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Urban Artware offers it up

by Jesse Kiser

I am a local boy born and raised in Winston-Salem. I have lived on the same street for the 21 years I have been on this earth. My parents did not exactly express themselves artistically. If I had to express myself I did it with a crumpled piece of paper in my room. I went to auto races with my family, and when some of my friends were viewing art or reading fine pieces of literature I was passing my dad the crescent wrench while he was underneath a 442 Oldsmobile. Art is somewhat of a new realm for me. As I venture throughout the Triad’s art scene I realize that I have underestimated the potential this area has. I have always viewed Winston-Salem as a somewhat uninteresting town with limited possibilities but as I begin to unpeel the onion that is the Triad, I see there are a lot of layers I have yet to explore.

Late Friday afternoon I’m searching for a topic for my next article. I start in Winston-Salem. I consider a couple galleries in Reynolda Village but there seem to be no new exhibits, so I grab a bite to eat on Trade Street and then head out to find a gallery. I pass a few that have closed early and reach 6th Street. To the right is a downward staircase buried in the sidewalk. There are a few older windows that reach waist high and a brightly colored wooden frame entrance colored with what looks like leftover paint cans from the Partridge Family bus. It looks too interesting to pass up. I enter carefully, trying not to hit my head, something I do far too often. The owner and operator, Millicent Greason, greets me with a smile and a word as I walk down into the gallery.

The walls are bare and covered in what seems like their tenth layer of white paint. First I come across pieces of artwork made from recycled car and tractor parts. This initially grabs my eye due to my fascination with mechanics. I have seen this type of artwork done before, using old tractor and tiller blades, screws or used brake parts and turning them into rustic yard ornaments. But these pieces had a bit of freshness to them. I make my way down the wall and saw more recycled pieces – my favorite is a large vase about six inches wide and two feet tall made up of broken shards of turquoise tinted and melted glass. The sculpture twists upward as the individual pieces of glass wind their way together – not a perfectly uniform piece, which is what interests me the most about it.

I wander around the store as the owner visits with friends and customers. I enter into the featured artist gallery at the end of the building, a separate room that’s divided by only two half-walls on either side. You can hear creaks and footsteps from above. The walls are covered with drywall, painted white, and there is blue carpet at my feet.

The feature artist this month is, Kendall E. Doub, with the exhibit Textures. The exhibit includes seven pieces, each one with a more interesting and complex theme than the last. It is here where I begin to realize what I had been missing about artwork and the culture of artists all along: It is not what the artist wants you to see, but what I want to see, especially in the Textures exhibit.

The pieces, with their perspective titles, are given little explanation. They have seemingly endless possibilities to be explored by the viewing. I turn and look back towards the gallery. The light from the half windows on the sidewalk seems to shine down in solid rays into the room.

I have an epiphany – a feeling for what it all means – and I get my first true glimpse into the realm of artists.

To comment on this story, e-mail Jesse Kiser at jesse@yesweekly.com.

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