[Spotlight] ‘One tribe’
Newcomer John Peaspanen moved to Winston-Salem in August 2019 from Cincinnati and is becoming more and more recognizable in the City of Arts and Innovation. Peaspanen has worn a lot of hats such as bartender, tattoo artist, greenhouse worker, radio host, AT&T customer care manager and floral designer to pay the bills. But primarily, he wrote in an email that he is a journalist who has always been an artist at heart.
“I sold artwork all over the place, but had few gallery opportunities, as I moved 23 times over the last 26 years,” Peaspanen wrote. “Since I have settled here, my art career has really taken off. It is now real and not just a side hustle to make fun money.”
Now, Peaspanen has his own art exhibition at Liberty Arts Coffee House, located at 526 N. Liberty St. in Winston-Salem. The exhibition is called “One Tribe,” and it is a collection of paintings that “celebrate tribal cultures worldwide.”
“By highlighting people from indigenous cultures, I wanted to show the diverse beauty and strength that really are uniting factors for our species,” he wrote. “If you go back far enough, we are all tribal. We are all the same. Down deep, we are one tribe.”
Peaspanen wrote that this collection started with just one painting he did of a Huli Wigman from New Guinea in September 2019, and soon it turned into several tribal-inspired paintings.
“Until recently, I never accumulated any works to show,” he wrote. “It had been a good problem to have, selling everything you make. But this time, I focused on gallery showings. I hoarded the paintings from the last five months, made them a cohesive series, and found venues to show.”
Peaspanen wrote that he is also taking the “One Tribe” series to Willow’s Bistro in March and April, and he is looking to take the series to another North Carolina art hub outside of the Triad. Eventually, he wrote that he plans to later compile the series into a book so that he can show the paintings in more detail and “give a much broader description of each culture.”
Peaspanen’s inspiration for “One Tribe” comes from a deep admiration and appreciation of indigenous cultures.
“I have always been a student of the so-called primitive cultures,” he wrote. “They fascinate me. I appreciate their spiritual practices and the ingenuity of their innovations. Indigenous cultures get far too little credit for their brilliance and beauty.”
Peaspanen wrote that “One Tribe” is extremely timely and hopes to use this collection to unite people.
“We live in an increasingly divisive, isolationist, nationalistic society,” he observed. ”We are splitting into homogenized, racist groups, rather than coming together as one united tribe. I want to illustrate how we share common threads. The best way to show this, in my mind, is by highlighting how we all are individuals who, though vastly different in appearance, share very basic human traits, emotions and attitudes. I am no different from a woman in the Kalahari Desert or a fisherman in the South China Sea or a child in Syria. We are all humans, first and foremost. If more people would recognize that, this world would be a much brighter place.”
Peaspanen’s art exhibition “One Tribe” runs Jan. 20-Feb. 23 and will be at Liberty Arts Coffee House, 526 N. Liberty St. in Winston-Salem.