Lyndon Street reopening highlights First Friday festivities

by Keith Barber

“Tree of Life” by Mariana Rodriguez-Pardy.  (courtesy photo)

The roots of the Greensboro arts community run deep and the Lyndon Street Artworks artist collaborative is an integral part of that community. In the confines of this 18,000-square foot industrial space, more than 40 resident artists can be found working in more than 15 mediums. Artists envision, design, create and inspire one another. During this week’s First Friday event, Lyndon Street will host a grand reopening to celebrate a renewal of the spirit of community and a shared love of art that built this special place.

Mariana Rodriguez-Pardy, an artist and potter from Mexico City, said she came to Lyndon Street four years ago with a passion to reconnect with her artistic roots.

“Lyndon Street is a place of inspiration,” she said. “When you see other artists working, it’s collective art. We want to remind people we are there and we’re struggling as artists but, at the same time, really creative and supporting each other.”

Rodriguez-Pardy will be exhibiting her Tree of Life sculptures during First Friday. The sculptures reflect the artist’s fascination with Mexico’s rich folk art tradition.

“I grew up seeing trees of life everywhere in museums, galleries and folk art stores,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated because they tell a story, whether it’s a religious story or just the life story of the artist. I wanted a piece that would con nect me with my roots.”

Rodriguez-Pardy said she fell in love with Lyndon Street because she drew strength from the presence of so many talented artists.

“I felt a connection to the piece because it has a strong structure and I felt really strong at that time,” she said. “[Lyndon Street] is such an inspiring place because there is so much to see, so many artists with different backgrounds working in different mediums but all with one common denominator, which is our passion for art.”

To help ensure Lyndon Street’s vital presence in the Greensboro art scene, there will be an “Affordable Art” section at the collaborative during the First Friday festivities. Artists are donating work to be sold at rock-bottom prices with all proceeds going to a rescue fund to keep the collaborative going strong.

Lida Witherspoon will be another featured artist at Lyndon Street’s grand reopening. For the past seven years, Witherspoon has created her painted wall banners at the artists collaborative.

“My art is of the moment, like gypsy art,” Witherspoon said.

“Most of my work has been commissioned so I really need a space to work out of so I can be active, and I needed a lot of room, and Lyndon Street has a great space.”

“I like the openness of Lyndon Street where you can walk around and see everyone’s art out in the open is just more inspiring than having a remote studio where it’s not open to the public,” she added.

During First Friday, Witherspoon will be exhibiting a work in progress — a triptych of hand-scrolled banners of Chinese dragons. After putting the project aside for several years,

Witherspoon’s creative process will be on full display with her “Year of the Water Dragon” banners, which will be completed by Chinese New Year in late January.

Artist Scott Harris, a sculptor who works with aluminum, will exhibit his series, New Saints, during First Friday. Harris has enjoyed a space at Lyndon Street for the past six years. He said the elemental properties of aluminum create a three-dimensional effect in his work. As the viewer walks around his impressionistic paintings, they will see renderings of everyday people in the foreground with angel wings and a halo in the background.

“That’s what makes it fun, experimenting with the idea of saints and experimenting with the medium as well,” Harris said.

The grand reopening represents a chance to reorganize the artists collective and create a vision of Lyndon Street’s future, Harris said.

“We all let the ball drop as far as being that organized collective, so it’s nice to get that back,” he said. “Lyndon Street is one of the few places where you can go in Greensboro and see where the artists work. By having a reopening, it creates an incentive for the public to come out.”

wanna go?

First Friday Art Hops happen the first Friday of each month in Greensboro along Elm Street and in Winston- Salem emanating from the corner of 6 th and Trade streets.