2011: A retrospective

by Keith Barber

Members of the Authoring Action Assegai Outreach Ensemble included (l-r) Cecil Moore, Jordan Anderson, Maurice Shivers and James Terry. (photo by Keith T. Barber)

The mission of the Visions section of YES! Weekly has always been to showcase the terrific work being done by local artists, artisans and craftsmen in the Piedmont Triad. Ultimately, our goal is to tell the story of the people behind the art.

During 2011, scores of talented local artists graced the pages of YES! Weekly. Here’s a quick look back at a few of those stories:

Alix Hitchcock, a Wake Forest art professor and member of the Artworks artist co-op in Winston-Salem, talked about her painting, Trapped, which was inspired by the disturbing images of millions of barrels of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s Deepwater Horizon. Trapped, which was featured at the First Friday Gallery Hop on Jan. 7, depicts a human figure silhouetted against flames in the background.

Hitchcock said her process began with letting black ink spill on the canvas and flow wherever it wanted to, like an oil spill.

“I work layer by layer,” she said. “I do two layers before I decide what the third and fourth layer will be. I know the elements I want to work with but I sometimes change course midstream depending on how it’s looking.”

YES! Weekly profiled pebble mosaic artist Ian Byers in April. Byers created the public art installation “Celeste” outside the Silver Moon Saloon in downtown Winston-Salem. The’  mosaic depicts a red headed goddess holding a moon in the palm of her hands. Flames rise from the moon as two half moons accentuate the breasts of the goddess. Byers and his colleague, John Long, cre- ated the goddess mosaic in a 10-hour flurry of artistic expression that incorporated the ideas of friends, family and even bar patrons. “While I was building it, my sister [Marissa] came by and she saw the cleavage for example and thought I should add a couple stones here to make it more round in that sense, so I went with it, and she put a beauty mark on her face,” Byers said. “The experience itself and the mosaic itself incorporated the ideas and hands of others. In the overall creation, it was a collective work.” In June, YES! Weekly chronicled the unveil ing of the Word Wall, a public art installation created by Authoring Action upon the edifice of the Breakfast Of Course restaurant off Trade Street in downtown Winston- Salem in a com- munity celebration of music and spoken word. After a scintillating performance in both word and song by Authoring Action Assegai Outreach Ensemble, a drum corps led the young leaders and the scores of guests in at- tendance to the unveiling. The students pulled back a tarp and the mosaic of colorful tiles containing the words of a community mani- festo that took the students a full year to create.

Authoring Action artistic director Nathan Ross Freeman conducted the collaborative sessions in which the community manifesto was created. Freeman credited the students with finding their individual voices and then blending them together to express the hopes, dreams and aspirations of an entire city. “They added their own thesis and they became their own school of thought,” Freeman said. “They went from discussion to writing to making the ‘Word Wall’ literally a school of thought and individually each of them had their own iconic signature.” In 2011, we re-introduced you to outstand- ing local artists like the husband-and-wife team of Charlotte and Erik Ström; UNCG film- maker Michael Frierson and screenwriter and playwright Angus MacLachlan. We introduced you to the work of photographer Jacqui Cau- sey, painter Leigh Rodenbough; filmmakers Mariah Dunn, Adrienne Ostberg and Debra Sea; mixed-media artists Jan Detter, Kimberly Varnadoe and Mona Wu; and many others.

With such a wealth of local artistic talent and the vibrant arts communities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point supporting these artists, 2012 promises to be a fantastic year for the arts and we look forward to documenting more stories of local artists and their works in the pages of YES! Weekly.