Thursday, May 11, 2017

two hundred eighty-one

Artist Michael Messer is interviewed by Brinson & Salwa.
A UNC-Greensboro student, Salwa Majeed sent me an email a while back.  She asked to use the Four Saints Brewing Company's Art Wall Project for a college journalism assignment.  Well hell yeah.  That's what this art wall is about.  Sure -- the art wall is about managing a 12 foot wall in a taproom that rotates an art installation of five visual artists every three months.  The project that FSBC owners Joel & Andy hired me to manage is also about community.  You know -- subjecting others to inviting the local community to engage in thoughtful visual art discourse over a pour of locally brewed beer.   So, again, hell yeah.

Salwa and her project partner, Brinson needed to create a 'segment'.  I think that's what that's called.  A two minute video that portrays a compelling community project.  And right there -- that's where the smile starts.  It's one thing to host a public art project in the community.  It's another thing to inspire others on their quest for knowledge to be inspired by said art project to, in turn, create another work of art about it.  Dig? -- propelling the art, folks.  When it's done in this manner, everyone wins: the community, the business with foresight to pay for the creation of art, the artists, the students -- okay, backing off the soapbox.  You get it.

Salwa, Brinson, Les III, Joel, & Michael
Salwa and Brinson visited the taproom to interview FSBC owner Joel, me, and of course the fourth Art Wall artist, Michael Messer.  The students also followed Michael in his studio while he was producing his wood relief art piece.  All the while they asked great questions and collected fantastic footage.  The good vibes were flowing during Michael's public work session at the taproom and it shows in the footage.  We had fun.

And maybe you'll get the good vibes in the video Salwa and Brinson put together.  Check out the video below.  The students earned an A in my book.

The FSBC Art Wall Project's fourth artist, Michael Messer will have his work on exhibit through the end of June 2017 in the taproom located at 218 South Fayettville Street in downtown Asheboro.  Limited edition commemorative stickers and t-shirts featuring his art are available for purchase while supplies last.  Check out his nifty art projects in progress via instagram .

Monday, March 20, 2017

two hundred eighty

That name kept hitting me, "Ronald E. McNair."  That dude was a brilliant person: accomplished saxophonist; black belt in karate; BS in Engineering Physics from Greensboro's A&T; Ph.D in Physics from MIT; and the second African-American in space (he's got a moon crater named after him).  I'm going to McNair Elementary in Greensboro to talk about visual art.  Talk about feeling eclipsed.  

But I get ahead of myself.  The train tracks just before the school ceased the morning rush for a minute.  Several minutes.  Lots of minutes.  Lots of cars.  Each box had graffiti on it.  Big, colorful images.  I think to myself, "this is what I'll tell the students -- you too can grow up to find a creative safe haven on the side of a box car.  Sure, many want to stop you from doing it; sure it's expensive to buy supplies with little chance to get paid; sure many in the public eye do not understand it and dismiss it; sure others paint over your success to claim their spot.  All this is not much different than pursuing a career in the fine art world."  Ah, but that thought flashes by as the train passes. I snap back to witness two trains traveling in opposite directions meet & greet for an air horn moment.  The new perspective is a colorful locomotive high five.  Today will be a good day.

storming a head
The sky was all was stormy that morning.  I roll into the campus to see they have an artist-in-residence on the 14th on the marque.  Oh.  That's me.  I laugh.  Nice touch, McNair Elementary.  Further up the drive students in yellow ponchos serve as valets for students arriving by auto.  It was beautiful.  Young people helping each other.  In the rain.  With smiles.  It never ceases to get me right there.  So much positivity we possess in youth.  Then life can knock it right out of us.  Because, you know, since rain is wet, it is sad.  No -- with these students they were having a ball.  Those lingering smiles do not lie -- they had a job to do.  They had a poncho to wear.  They got to open the doors for their peers.  Hi fives and all.  Smack that down, haters. Rain rocks.

(from left) Harpy, student work, Mr. Mac, and Les III
I meet McNair's art teacher, Ryan McInturff, in the school office.  He's dressed in all black; is perceptive; and has an energetic ease to him.  I bet his students make awesome projects (They do.  See for yourself:   twitter: McNairArt).  He promptly grabs me a cuppa coffee and says the students call him "Mr. Mac."  You got it.  And thank you for the invite to come hang with the art students.  I collect my visitor sticker and enter the frenzy that is an artful school visit.  For forty minutes for four times I will talk to the fourth graders about being a professional visual artist; show them examples of my artwork; and lead an art project.  All in forty minutes.  Yeah.  The questions fielded from the classroom alone can easily hit 20 minutes.  But this is also my fifth year with the almost 40 year old "Artist-In-Schools" project sponsored by the Guilford County School System and GreenHill Museum.  So I got a bit of a routine -- it includes playing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes", and well appointed high fives.   

creating exquisite corpses
What happens next is a blur.  Great questions.  Greater smiles.  These kids are woke.  And they want to know more.  One student in particular is trying to wrap his head around how my finished, framed, and varnished painting starts out as a piece of wood paneling and primer.  And then we talk about the painting.  She's a mythological monster named "Harpy."  She loves her job even though it is evil.  And then we talk about the use of color and line to create visual communication: depicted Greek nose, fangs, bat wing, pretty hair, graceful disposition and all.

I heart this.
We transition from Greek mythical monsters to Exquisite Corpse.  We talk about the history of the drawing game and play it ourselves.  The students get a refresher on how to collaborate since the drawings are traded among them four times during the game.  It is super chaotic and we do not use erasers or pencils for that matter.  Fourth graders generally prefer to draw out their art prior to using the markers -- not with Les III.  We go with first color impressions.  We laugh.  We learn.  We are reminded about the joy lingering in the creative process once again -- and how art is all around us -- math, history, clothing, trains -- you name it.  That second cup of coffee helps too.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

two hundred seventy-nine

Image by Katherine Hagen
The last part of 2016 brought the invitation to participate in the Cherry Bounce Show over at the William King Museum of Art in Abindgon, Virginia.  A comprehensive blog entry on the exhibit and the art is here.  In short it's an exhibition of 55 artists who explored the art of the campaign poster for each U.S. presidential contest.  The exhibition is dense, overwhelming, and delicious.  Many of  the Appalachian region-based artists invited aren't even politically motivated (like myself).  The guest curator, politcal science professor Eric Drummond Smith did one hell of a job compiling info and making it available for the artists (see the above Cherry Bounce website).  The exhibition is on display through the end of January 2017.

Back in the fall of 2016 Callie Hietala, Director of Exhibitions at William King telephoned me to pick my brain a bit about how my Cherry Bounce artwork came to be.  We talked about how I came up with a work of art celebrating the 1808 presidential election that ultimately ended up with James Madison's first term as the POTUS.  And then she put our conversation on the radio.  How cool is that?

Here's the interview via WEHC 90.7's Art Speaks with Callie.