We are facing a pandemic; and it's the first emergency of its kind to impact the United States in the way we're currently witnessing and experiencing. Many people are under stay-at-home mandates; and we all are practicing social distancing and extreme hygiene in order to curve the spread of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
I miss being able to freely go out and about. During this time, however, I am grateful for good health and provision. I am grateful for my family and their safety, and the opportunity to slow down and continue to stay productive from home. I am also prayerful for the healing of the earth and anybody who is ill. As an introvert, my regular routines haven't been interrupted a whole lot. However, shopping at the grocery store has become somewhat of a sport and making a quick run to the arts and crafts is not at all possible. One thing I miss very much is going to see art exhibits. Viewing others' artwork is something I really enjoy and appreciate about the community I am blessed to be surrounded by and a part of. Getting lost in creation seems to lift my spirit and helps me empathize and better engage with important topics and issues.
As this pandemic gets more serious, I feel the need to get lost for a moment and reflect on things that lift my spirit (and also purge my camera roll in the process). Thankfully stepping outside for a few minutes of fresh air and sounds of nature's activity has been a good source of relief lately. This post will highlight 14 spaces showcasing art that I've visited over the last year and a half or so, through a collection of photos and descriptions. Some of these places are still around and some are not, unfortunately. Also, some are more accessible than others, but read on for more and enjoy!
1. Dix Park Flower Cottage, Private Showcase
This space is not open to the public, but it is used for Dix Park Conservancy-related events and meetings; and because I am a new member of their team, I recently got an exclusive tour of the space and will be visiting it more often in the upcoming year. It is extremely beautiful. I attended an event on the field behind the cottage in March 2019; and I admired the building and landscaping from outside, not having a clue that I'd be inside of it within the next year. The walls of the conference and common room are decorated with artwork by Artists Thomas H. Sayre and Damian Stamer, which can be viewed in the images below.
2. City of Raleigh Museum
Immediately following my second interview, which happened to fall on a snow day and took place in the aforementioned Flower Cottage... I decided I would spend my "day off" learning more about the history of Dix Hill. I had read so much online already and heard there was a permanent exhibit on display in downtown Raleigh. It made perfect sense to go check it out! The photos below are from the trip I took that February afternoon to see this exhibit.
3. NC Museum of History
I went to see an exhibit that featured the art of Ernie Barnes in March 2019. His style is renown due to his "Sugar Shack" piece that was often seen in the popular, classic television show Good Times and also served as a Marvin Gaye album cover.
4. Durham Art Guild's SunTrust Gallery
At the beginning of each Spring, DAG hosts its annual "Swing Into Spring" fundraiser auction. The photos below are from March 2019. This year's event was planned to take place on Friday, March 27th again at the SunTrust Gallery, but it was moved online with all that is going on right now. Moving to the virtual world allowed a one-night event to stretch to over a week long. The auction is LIVE here until Monday, April 6th. Please check it out and consider supporting through a bid or donation!
5. The Scrap Exchange's Cameron Gallery
When I reached out to Brenda Miller Holmes years ago to inquire about getting involved in her project as a volunteer, I never imagined what would come with it or after. I shared a couple of posts in the past that touched on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural Project, one in July 2014 and the other in September 2014. This year, Myra Weise received an Arts About grant from Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) to fund a performance event inspired by the mural. Originally, she wanted to have Brenda create the temporary ground work, but being the equity-conscious person she is, Brenda suggested getting another artist involved and recommended me. At first, I wasn't sure if I could deliver what Myra envisioned, but I got more and more excited after meeting with her, getting an overview of the event, and sketching some ideas out on paper. We even met one weekend for a photo shoot to get images for promotional material (pictured below and also taken by Zoe Litaker Photography).
On the day of the event, Myra was busy going through a super long list of logistical tasks that included things like picking up road barricades and chairs and dropping those off along with supplies and setting up, etc. I arrived on site a little after 10 a.m. and began to mark up the parking lot. The goal was for me to lay out the design in the mock up shown that would both serve as a place the community could color in for a couple of hours before the performance as well as the stage space for the dancers to perform within.
Time flew as I started installing the stage's border. I quickly went through a number of the chalk spray paint cans and began to improvise when I was running out. In the home stretch, one of the men featured in the mural stopped by... Walter Riley, who was in town visiting due to a National Lawyer Guild's convention on civil rights (he's an Attorney who's done incredible work; look him up!). We talked for a while and I learned that he, too, is an artist and paints often with oils.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wrapped up and went to work, and when I finished my shift, I came back to see bits of the performance and to check out Derrick Beasley's exhibition inside of the Durham Arts Council building. Some photos from behind the scenes are in the slideshow below as well as two brochures that were handed out during the event that share more information about the mural itself. Thanks for much for reading, and as always... feel free to leave a comment or two!
The last few months has jam-packed my days with new and old activities involving Durham Art Guild duties, paint party facilitation, and even a Third Friday pop-up art exhibition opportunity at Golden Belt Arts. There's even more that I'll post about at another time. Typically, I have to completely settle and reflect on my calendar or look through my phone's photo album to realize all of the recent, small victories. That's exactly what happened before I decided to write this post. Since my last one, I've participated in my first Swing Into Spring DAG fundraiser, celebrated the completion of one whole fiscal year with the organization, and attended and/or helped to plan and lead several meetings and programs.
One of those programs, one that I am very happy about, was "Painting Our Privilege." Some photos from the event follow. Participants came and engaged in an exercise and post-discussion led by Alexa Sykes of The Equity Paradigm that explored ways we all personally and collectively enjoy privileges based on our membership in social groups in the United States. There was a good response to and turn out for the event, so I'm really looking forward to repeating and/or expanding this opportunity.
Only days later, I had the chance to transform the same space used to host that event into a pop-up art exhibition I teamed up with Artist Nate Key to show called "Letters, Locks, and Lyrics." Held during Durham's Third Friday festivities, there was a fantastic crowd and very great energy. I am thankful to have been able to experience the process of putting the show together from conception and curation, all the way to community interaction during the show and even uninstalling everything afterwards. I am also thankful for my family, friends and everyone that stopped in to see the show (and special shout out to my Dad who was not there, but is blessed to see another birthday TODAY)! Special thanks to the art community's support and gracious allies at Golden Belt for testing the idea of pop-ups out. Some photos from the exhibit follow.
Last but certainly, not least... there have been a number of painting classes I've had the pleasure of instructing. One of the first places to feature me as an artist was J. Cardinal Events for their 1K Words programming. They reconnected and allowed me to facilitate another one of their painting sessions- this time in connection to an Adolescent Parenting Program graduation celebration. It was an honor to be involved with such an important event and I was so grateful to be able to connect with everyone through art. What a treat it is to have this gift and put it to use!
There were countless classes done at Wine and Design Durham per usual. I taught my first Picasso-styled date night at the studio as well as a "Durham Starry Night" themed On Wheels event at a local brewery; both were awesome! The company is doing so much in all of their studios, and was even a featured business on ABC's show, Shark Tank. You can read more about this and other mentioned topics in the list of related articles at the end of this blog post. On the flip side, it seems I have to be careful with whom I work with from now on due to the Wine and Design franchises having strict expectations of their contracted artists and not wanting their model repeated (even though there are several existing and similar paint and sip businesses). Unfortunately, I'm not sure how that will impact and look for me moving forward with facilitating more classes, i.e. Exotique's Easel Expressions. Exotique did, however, have their first private group in May and they really had a good time. Some photos from their class are below, as well as the many from Wine and Design. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
For the past few years, it's been hard for me to self-identify as an artist. Whenever people tried to call me one, I'd typically dodge the title because it felt so uncomfortable. Because I wasn't making much of an income through art, I felt it was sort of disrespectful to the real, surviving professional artists out there. Of course I was putting in some hours in Cary, NC at Time For Art with kids' classes, special events, and facepainting; but it didn't matter much to me because other than those small gigs, art was still somewhat only a hobby for me... until the last several months.
IT STARTED WITH WINE AND DESIGN.
"I wish I knew you were coming all the way from Durham," Wine and Design Fayetteville studio owner, Jessalyn Abril, told me more than six months ago, explaining that she was also coming from the Triangle to interview me. Our encounter was ironic, but it made it all the more clear to me that I should look into working with the studio in Durham and focus on building from there. That was April 2016, and I've done exactly that since then. I have instructed over 25 studio classes and private events, not counting any of the groups I also worked with as an assistant artist at Wine and Design Durham (studio photos are shown below). I am really seeing this more as a process now and remembering to enjoy it along the way. I find myself more productive and finally feel comfortable calling myself an artist. This new-found confidence is helping me create more artwork on my own, when I'm not busy with work, personal or Durham Art Guild duties. For example, envisioning my art in gallery spaces and submitting to exhibitions is a lot less scary now. I've even gotten my first chance to feel what it's like to have paintings sold while they are on display recently. Aside from Wine and Design groups, I additionally hosted two events in collaboration with TYPE USA called Canvas Creations. The third one will occur next month; photos from the first two (1, 2) Canvas Creations as well as more information about other upcoming events are also below. The year seems like it will close off well; I can only keep expectations higher for 2017.
Today is a Tuesday, and I feel a shift happening-- a transformation. Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I received a welcome to the Durham Arts Guild (DAG) Board of Directors, a two-year term that I will be serving as a board member. I am excited for the opportunity and cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Much time has passed since my last post, but I'll be sure to share what's been going on over the next few weeks for "Throwback Thursdays" and "Flashback Fridays". For now, I'd like to share some photos highlighting what the first two weeks of being a DAG Board Member has been like!
If you would like to become a member of the Durham Art Guild, please join! There is a membership drive underway, and anyone who signs up before June 23rd will receive a $10 discount.
On another note, international recording artist Iyanya from Nigeria is in the U.S. for his 2016 tour! He made his way to Farotage Nation Lounge on Saturday, June 11th and put on an excellent performance for his Carolina fans. This is what I heard... because I wasn't there. I was totally bummed knowing I'd miss the afrobeat star's energetic show because I wasn't in town. Little did I know, I was in for a pleasant surprise the following day.
This weekend, I was ecstatic to open my first art exhibition, which is now on display at Arts Manifold (7406-K Chapel Hill Road, Raleigh, NC 27607).
::Flashback to February::
I posted in February of 2013 about an Arts Entrepreneurs' Conference at UNCG that I was considering going to. However, I did not make it to the conference then, but this past February I registered and drove out to Greensboro, NC to attend this year. You can check out the social media feed using #SEAC2014. Anyway, the conference was very helpful and a great place for all kinds of artists to network. This is how my current art show got its wings.
I met Nicole Canty, Abstract and Experimental Artist and Owner of Arts Manifold at SEAC 2014. We exchanged information and as she was looking for artists to exhibit in her space, I found it to be a great opportunity and followed up with her about it.
Friday, March 28th was our opening Reception date for my show, but we have another reception being planned due to a lower turn out than expected. Below, please find two pieces that are on display, "The Drum That Spoke" and "Instant Message" along with my Artist Statement for the show and a short picture slideshow. During the reception, I got a chance to explain the inspiration and meanings behind each of the seven acrylic paintings being displayed. Stay tuned for more information about the show or visit www.artsmanifold.com for more information.
Yesterday afternoon, I made it out of the house and trudged through the heavy rains to Raleigh. Members of the Triangle Sketch Crawl gathered for the afternoon at the NC Museum of Natural Science to practice drawing from the variety of objects found at this new location. I remember coming to the museum previously during a conference I attended, but this was my first time actually exploring the many levels and exhibits. It's a very beautiful space with a lot to see. I spent half of my time snapping pictures (gallery below) and walking around before I found a couple of spots (by the turtles) that I enjoyed sketching in.
I had the opportunity to check out the artwork of self-taught Artist Francis "F.A." Sonnie this weekend. He is based in Sierra Leone, but that does not stop the international travels of his collection of village paintings. More than 25 of his lively acrylic on canvass paintings are here in North Carolina for an exhibit being held at The Palace International (1104 Broad Street Durham, NC 27705) November 4, 2013 through January 6, 2014. There are a variety of sizes to choose from and donations will benefit Africa Yes!, a nonprofit funding women and community projects in Gbeworbu, Sierra Leone. The slideshow below shows a peek of some of the art. Visit it in person during The Palace International's regular business hours (closed on Mondays) or feel free to join the Opening Reception in a few weeks: Monday, Dec. 2nd, 5:30-7:30p.m.
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