A Cast of Blues

lo-PostcardBlues music was born in Mississippi, came of age in Chicago, and went on to inspire generations of rock and rollers, ranging from the British invasion of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to contemporary groups, such as The Black Keys. As one of America’s contributions to the world of music, the blues took root in the fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta, a flood plain covering 7,000 square miles between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. Early blues greats in the Delta pioneered the strong rhythmic style of music, accenting the raw emotions of the lyrics by squeezing chords out of a guitar with a bottleneck or metal slide. 

A celebration of Mississippi’s rich musical heritage, The exhibition A Cast of Blues features 15 resin-cast masks of blues legends created by artist Sharon McConnell-Dickerson, as well as 15 color photographs of performers and of juke joints by acclaimed photographer Ken Murphy. Now visitors to Kennedy- Douglass Center for the Arts can experience the exhibition, A Cast of Blues, opening June 26 and running through August 1. 

IMG_1238A Cast of Blues artist Sharon McConnell-Dickerson has said, “a life cast is like a 3-D photograph to someone who is blind.” McConnell-Dickerson, who is visually impaired, continues, “It captures the flesh, muscle, bone, hair, and subtle expressions of emotion. I wanted to discover the faces behind the music I love, so I went to Mississippi to map out the visages of the real Delta blues men and women.” 

Ken Murphy’s photographs are selected from the groundbreaking book Mississippi: State of Blues (published 2010 by Proteus/Ken Murphy Publishing). A longtime Mississippi resident, Murphy captures the essence of the blues through highly detailed, panoramic color pictures. The exhibition’s compilation of casts and photos create a compelling portrait of the men and women who defined—and continue to shape—the tradition of Mississippi blues. 

During the 1920s and 1930s, Charlie Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, and scores of other bluesmen and women barnstormed across the Delta, playing plantations, juke joints, and levee camps scattered throughout the area. It was the next generation of Mississippi music artists led by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf, who brought the Delta blues north to Chicago. The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and other rock and rollers picked up on the Delta sound and introduced it to the world. The musicians who stayed behind in Mississippi kept the tradition alive, passing it from one generation to another. Since the 1990s, Delta blues music has undergone a revival, with the rediscovery of overlooked artists—R.L. Burnside, T Model Ford, and Bobby Rush—and the rise of contemporary blues acts like the North Mississippi Allstars and the Homemade Jamz Blues Band.  

The exhibition is fully accessible to all visitors, featuring braille labels and educational materials, as well as a music playlist for gallery use and a closed-captioned film about the Cast of Blues project. In addition, visitors are encouraged to touch the resin-cast masks. Says McConnell-Dickerson, “As a sculptural and visual art experience, feeling the life-made casts of these individuals and their facial expressions transfers their experiences directly to our fingertips.” The exhibition is also accompanied by the 2008 documentary film, M for Mississippi: A Roadtrip through the Birthplace of the Blues

(94 minutes) that will feature at the Florence Indian Mound Museum July 11 at 6PM. 

Organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national part of Mid-America Arts Alliance, the exhibition was curated by Chuck Haddix, music historian, author, radio personality, and director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at www.maaa.org and www.eusa.org.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Florence of Arts and Museums Membership and the City of Florence Department of Arts and Museums. 

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Arts Alive 2019

ARTS ALIVE!Arts Alive’s 2019 Exhibition runs through June 21,2019 at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. The Arts Alive Exhibit displays artworks in various mediums and disciplines from artists and craftspeople from all over the country. This year’s exhibition judge Kay Jacoby, community arts coordinator for the Alabama State Council on the Arts selected the winners of nearly $5,000 in artistic awards. 

The Arts Alive exhibition is one of two fund raisers for the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts Volunteers. Arts Alive supports Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts Volunteers Endowments to school art programs in Lauderdale and Colbert counties. Last year’s Arts Alive Festival endowed nearly $10,000 to local schools for art programs and projects.

Arts Alive Award Winners 2019

Gallery

First Place – Tim Stevenson, “Just Looking”

Second Place – Dale Lewis, “Miro Does Egypt”

Third Place – Sue Leatherman, “Wash Day”

Merit Award – Kelly Morton, “A Night in Paris”

Merit Award – Amita Bhakta “Whispering at the Base of Almighty”

Merit Award – Spears McCalister, “Sossusvlei: Dunes and Grass”

Merit Award – Robin Matthews, “Mathew’s Treehouse”

Merit Award – Dennis Leatherman, “Reaching Out” 

Special Gallery Awards

Jack Opler Award – Spears McAllister, “Gray Galley”

Betty Hairston Award – Martha Beadle, “Shoals Theatre”

Donald G. Waterman Award – Vanessa Bowser “Sunrise over the Fields”

Mhairi Frank Award – Helen Fielder, “Tea Pot”

Park

1st Place – Guadalupe Lanning Robinson, ceramics

2nd Place – Jim Goshorn, Metal Sculpture

3rd Place – Amy Lansburg, driftwood art

Best Display – Anne Moore, jewelry 

Merit Award – Eve Styles, fabric design

Merit Award – Cracker Harris, folk art

Merit Award – George Jones, brooms

Merit Award – Martha Beadle, fiber art

Merit Award – Leslie Bennett, painting

Bernard Wright: Painting with Mud and Natural Elements

Painting with Mud and Natural ElementsKennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts presents the works of Fayette, Alabama folk artist Bernard Wright from April 10 through May 3. A gallery talk is scheduled for Friday night, May 3 at 6PM. Wright is a student of acclaimed Alabama artist, Jimmy Lee Sudduth and will be teaching a workshop using Sudduth’s methods in painting with mud Saturday, May 4 at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. The workshop lasts from 9AM – 4PM and includes lunch.

Painting with mud and natural elements is Wright’s specialty. His work has been featured recently at the Arts Council Gallery in Tuscaloosa. Wright was also a featured artist at Arts Alive 2018. “When I paint, I use the technique that Jimmy Lee taught me. I teach that same method to keep the tradition of painting with Alabama mud alive,” Wright says.  

Wright is listed in Contemporary American Folk Art: A Collectors Guide as the only apprentice of Jimmy Lee Sudduth the founding father of “Alabama Mud Painting.” He is a member of the Sipsey Arts Alliance and his work can be seen in museums in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and his hometown of Fayette. 

Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts is located at 217 E. Tuscaloosa St. Florence, AL and is open, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and select hours on the weekends. Call 256-760-6379 or go to kdartcenter.org for more information or to sign up for the workshop. 

Artistic Renderings of Youth 2019

IMG_9354THIS EVENT’S RECEPTION HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO MARCH 21 at 5:30-8:00 due to severe weather!!

Artistic Renderings of Youth, a juried exhibit of work by 7th through 12th grade artists from Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties, will be on display at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in Florence from March 6 through April 5. Celebrating its 28th year in existence, this exhibit has developed into an outstanding showcase of youth art. A reception will take place on Thursday, March 14, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.  The public is invited to attend and meet these young artists and their teachers. 

March is nationally recognized as Youth Art Month.  This exhibit provides an opportunity for the community to discover the young artistic talent in our area. The competition is coordinated by a group of junior high and high school art teachers to give students a chance to exhibit their art work and receive recognition for their talent.  There are 358 pieces in the show. Ribbons are awarded in three grade divisions.

To Seal My Mouth with Dirt: Nathan Harper

Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts presents To Seal My Mouth with Dirt, an exhibition by Nathan Harper February 27 – April 03, 2019. The installation explores primitive and modern relationships with iconography and technology. These paintings meditate on pattern with foraged materials, some with overt text. Harper will give a gallery talk Sunday, March 3 at 1PM at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. 

In my work, I explore post-internet imagery in relationship to prehistoric processes and materials.  Hand-foraged materials often command a kind of value reserved for images of the sacred such as European red ocher being for paintings of martyrs blood or Japanese indigo being for fabrics of spiritual importance.  I hower use dirt as the pigment for my paintings that explore the images of the internet age through the techniques of cave drawings.  The result is a certain kind of absurdity that I seek out and labor over like religious iconography.”

Nathan Harper is an artist and educator originally from Florence Alabama.  He received his BFA in Drawing and New Media from the University of Montevallo in 2017.  After graduation he began teaching visual art in Huntsville Alabama at New Century Technology high school. His work has been exhibited in galleries in Alabama and Ohio. He currently teaches on the topic of foraging artist materials from nature.

HarperWebImage

 

Light and Land: 3 Artists

Light and Land: 3 Artists Exhibition by Craig Goode, Tom Moye, and Nicholas Strong

Local artists Craige Goode, Tom Moye, and Nicholas Strong present Light and Land: 3 Artists at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts this January 11 – February 15, 2019. A reception to meet the artists will be held Thursday, January 24 at 6PM in the WrightDouglass Annex Galleries. This concentration of light, color, and landscape in painting and photography is the result of years of work by these three artists. 

Three artists.pngCraig Goode works with watercolor and gauche in large scale. His natural color pallet lends itself to both representational and abstract forms. Goode studied at San Francisco Academy of Art and worked as dental technician for many years. A native of Florence, Goode moved back two years ago and began teaching watercolor to young students. “Paint, paint, paint. That’s what it about; practice and color. I consider myself a colorist,” Goode says.

Tom Moye, presently retired in Florence, Alabama, has lived in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Malaysia, and has traveled to at least 35 countries all over the world.  He met his Korean wife, MyungHee, in Malaysia where they both led schools in the University of the Nations based in Kona, Hawaii.  He has recorded 103 original songs, some of which were played on the national TV station in Russia, and he is hoping to complete his 4th book in the near future.

“I’ve always wanted to paint like no one else ever has, to develop a new style of painting where colors jump off the canvas and even vibrate against one another,” Moye says.

Nicholas Strong currently lives and resides on his family farm since the year 2000.  Presently, Nicholas works at Publix Supermarket in Florence, Alabama.  Since purchasing his first camera in 2010, Nicholas has learned to capture many moments throughout the Shoals Area.  Nicholas has displayed his work in Arts Alive and was recipient of the Waterman Photograph Award in 2018. 

“I plan to pursue my love of photography by capturing the beauty of the Shoals Area and many other places throughout the coming years,” Strong says. 

Amy R. Peterson: Plein Air Paintings

Plein Air painter and Birmingham artist Amy R. Peterson will display her new collection of work at Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts January 8 through February 15. The gallery talk will be Sunday, January 13 at 1PM. Amy R. Peterson’s paintings combine strong draftsmanship with loose, impressionistic brushwork. She aims to capture the immediacy of a moment in time, portrayed in a classic, timeless way. The result is a work of art that will endure.

Amy paints extensively from life, including still life subjects, city scenes, and landscapes primarily in the Southeastern United States. She received strong academic training in the visual arts at the University of Notre Dame where she graduated in 2005, and has since pursued a professional career in the arts.

Amy is a member of the Oil Painters of America; the American Impressionist Society; the Alabama Plein Air Artists; and the Mountain Brook Art Association. She serves on the Art and Sculpture Committee of Aldridge Gardens and volunteers with the art program at First Light, Birmingham’s only 24-hour shelter for women and children. She is represented by the Beverly McNeil Gallery in Birmingham. 

“As an outdoor enthusiast and conservationist, I value plein air as an opportunity to document a place in time, on canvas, immersed in the weather, the season, and the uniqueness of each location. I rely greatly on my plein air experience to infuse my studio paintings with light, life, and confident brush work. The lessons from plein air painting are innumerable and, while my current work is largely based on photographic references (as a parent of three young children, working from home), painting from life remains my greatest teacher.”

 

Works by Jean Schulman

A collection of artworks by Jean Schulman is on display and for sale in the Wright-Douglass Annex of the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts. The collection is available for sale through December 28. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the art center. Schulman is known for her clay batiks and unique natural color palette. Schulman was a pioneer for art education  in the Shoals at a time when art was not considered a priority in public schools. Schulman, now ninety-one years old, considers her work as an educator as one of her most important contributions to the art world. 

“My word does not fit into a single category, however through my research, I feel that I fit into the broader perspective of historical information and contemporary art. Now I am seeking to gather new knowledge, to break new ground and make information available to others,” Schulmann shares. 

Schulman’s eye for design is communicated across mediums of clay, watercolor, and collage. Her batiks are typically abstract renderings in southern clay. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum of History and Technology in Washington D.C. and over one hundred private collections around the globe. She has won extensive awards for her innovative approach to both education and design including the Alabama Governor’s Award in 1985.

Piecemakers Quilt Guild Challenge

The Shoals Piecemakers Guild Quilt Challenge ’18 ushers in the winter with quilts themed for this festive time of year.  This year makes the 30th year for this Challenge. The quilts are open to the public on November 13 and display through December 28. Please stop by Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts to vote for your favorite! 
This year’s winners are as follows:
Sara Foster: Best Piecing, Best Machine Quilting, Best Use of Color, and Favorite Quilt
Deborah Douglass-Brown: Best Machine Applique
Mary Margaret Specker: Best Hand Quilting, Best Embellishment
Marion Williams: Best Use of Theme
Karen Risner: Most Innovative
The Shoals Piecemakers Quilt Guild meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Florence. New members are welcome. Quilters of every level of expertise including those interested in promoting the collection and preservation of quilts are part of the Guild.