Sunday, February 12, 2017

Traveling to see ART

 North Georgia- Not far from Helen, GA, I found this gallery housed in an old school. Added onto the school was the museum of pottery from the southern Appalachians. A person was nice enough to share the packet that new artists receive when they apply for this gallery. of all the places I traveled, this was probably the most like our own little gallery in Kimberling City. Since it was an old school, there are two separate rooms across the hall from each other housing the gallery. then there's a classroom and then a couple rooms dedicated to the history of that area.
 I found that the subject matter varied greatly in this gallery. It wasn't consistent in terms of quality or delivering a sense of place.
 I would one of the few things of significant historical relevance is an indian mound that someone built a gazebo on top of. It's there and you can see it driving by. It's in a field that you cannot access. The Smithsonian devoted time to a dig and then collected all that was found there. Once they got the museum up and running, they requested one piece back and this was it.
 North Georgia pottery( or southern Appalachian pottery) was also studied by the Smithsonian. The people involved were collected as examples of living history. For the most part, they were very utilitarian pieces, like jugs and crocks, churns, etc.. Mostly salt glazed and, therefore, not very colorful. The exception seems to be these face jugs that show some humor, or horror.
 Brad Walker, a potter in Dehlonega, Ga, creates interesting pieces and adds a note to the person who buys it in each one- supposedly. He was closed when I was there.  The trials of traveling in weekday, winters. there was a coop gallery opened and I spent quite some time talking with the artists there. I asked quite a few questions about how they are set up, how they deal with different issues, costs associated, etc... One interesting thing to note about Dehlonega has to do with gold and one building has a gold steeple. It's an iconic image they use to their advantage. One artist did a copy of Van Gogh's Starry night but added that gold steeple nestled in the town. I believe it was a mural somewhere, but she had cards of it as well.
 Charleston, SC-  This was my first time visiting this town and it's something really special. One thing struck me was that most scenery in the shops are very impressionistic in style. Charleston does a really great job of capturing a sense of place in most of the work I saw. In addition, there's a good tourist market for selling items based on the ornate grill work or the sign names of restaurants there. It is a foody kinda town. This town has so much history to draw from and everything is in fabulous shape. You would never imagine that house you walked by was built in the 1700's, or 1800's, etc..  It's southern, it's coastal, it's Gulah. The coop galleries seemed to understand the tourist market that drives the area. They seem to run similarly to ours.
 Coastal Gulf- I did not get to go into many galleries. just one in Destin and it was owned by a woman who does watercolor paintings. She has brought in other sorts of artists to round out the look, but all the paintings were hers and they were rather uneven watercolors. I liked a few of them, but mostly, they seemed unfinished. The subjects were strongly coastal and sea life related. I did go into my favorite commercial gallery, The Zoo Gallery, and it's a mix of interesting pricey pieces and commercial funky.
Pensacola train bridge
 New Orleans- Last year, I really got to explore New Orleans for the first time. I had just a 1/2  a day here this time and I knew to zero in or Royal street. What struck me this time after seeing Charleston, was just how shabby it all looks. It has a lot of similarities in terms of history and architecture, by Charleston takes better care of their stuff and New Orleans enjoys the not so perfect parts of life. New Orleans' art is bold and quirky and odd at times. It varies widely in styles, but also rather trendy. I mean, last time these colorful wonky depictions of houses were in Jackson square, now they are everywhere!
 I like the big VooDoo doll in the mid ground. There were a few people making cute voodoo dolls (not creepy) in wood, metal and paintings.
 I really like these that are somewhere between a doll and sculpture.

Jackson Square and an example of colorful art. I can't tell you how many galleries had dog paintings in them. Of course, the most famous is the Blue Dog, but he's high scale now and so this is what we have. There's someone doing pastel looking cats too. So, most of the galleries are either single artist galleries or a mix that fits together somehow. (subdued, funky, bright, etc..) I listened to a man and his wife argue over a painting. He loved it ($800) and she kept saying it didn't go with anything in their home. It was one of those wonky bright house paintings. I imagined her home to be all magnolia pastels.
  The lesson I always take home from New Orleans is that you can make art from anything. I saw a young man drawing houses on wood with ball point pens and having them for sale for $20. My favorite is Fleetwood Covington (fab name right?) who draws on rusted tin roof pieces with charcoal and conte pencil- black and white. Amazing!
 In all my travels, I only saw one person who is working in fabric as art. Chris Roberts-Antieau has her own gallery on Royal street. That's it.
 So, a whirlwind tour from the obscure to the famous. I enjoyed the heck out of it all.


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