Tag Archives: artist

Open Studios Artist: Elaine Fleck

Elaine Fleck has been involved with Open Studios Roanoke on and off for the last ten years. However, her use of oil on fabric goes back to when she was a teenager. Eventually, she moved on to fabric and embroidery to create her work.

“After some time, I experimented with painting in acrylics on fabric and then completely switched to oil and fabric,” she explains. “So one could say I have been cutting things to bits for over 40 years!”

Who are your inspirations?
I tend to like artists that use either a lot of texture or color. For painters, I like Gustav Klimt and Matisse. Lately, I am inspired by mosaic artists and this has led me to creating some new mosaic sculpture–specifically my mosaic shoe collection that will be featured on the Open Studios Tour this year along with my paintings. Locally, I like the mural artist Toobz. His piece in the Wasena Tap Room rocks! I love the creative license he gives himself.

Do you have a favorite painting? What makes it your favorite?
Right now, my favorite painting is “Jesus Saves.” I think the couple in this painting look so comfortable under that iconic Roanoke landmark. I like the fact that the painting is pretty simple in design, mainly consisting of the sign, the field, and the couple. 

How does your work reflect living in Roanoke?
“Jesus Saves” is most definitely a reflection of my living in Roanoke for the last 20 years. I had been looking at that sign for years and did not know what kind of a scene I wanted to set up. One day, after walking by that sign for probably the 50th time, it unfolded before me. My favorite model and her husband are the models for that painting. 

Elaine’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. This is a great opportunity to check out her paintings and mosaic sculpture work! Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Elaine and participating artists!

Extraordinary Women: Sonya Clark

Featured Photo: Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967), The Hair Craft Project: Hairstylists with Sonya, 2013, Eleven inkjet photographs, Eleven color photographs: Each 28”x 28”,The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

To say that the work of African American multi-media artist Sonya Clark is dynamic and powerful would be an understatement. Throughout her career, Clark’s work has often featured hair and combs in the place of more traditional fibers and art-making materials. Her exhibition, Follicular: The Hair Stories of Sonya Clark, is currently on display at the Taubman Museum of Art and will remain there until May 14, 2017. It addresses the roles of hair in African American society and features site specific installations. Last month, it included a performance entitled, “Translations.” This performance featured stylist Kamala Bhagat, who reinterpreted an African hairstyle on Clark’s hair as she read poetry by Rita Dove and Nikki Giovanni. Both the performance and the exhibition explore hair as an indicator of social status, a symbol of age and authority, a statement of contemporary style, an object of beauty, and adornment.

As we all know, hair is a medium with which we express our identity. It is a political statement as much as it is a personal one—the idea that we can be ourselves while being professional, active members of a society that tells us what is in fashion or appropriate in magazines or on television.

Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967), The Hair Craft Project: Hairstyles on Canvas, 2013, Silk threads, beads, shells, and yarn on eleven canvases, Nine at 29” x 29”, Two at 33” x 33”, The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Sonya Clark (American, Born 1967), The Hair Craft Project: Hairstyles on Canvas, 2013, Silk threads, beads, shells, and yarn on eleven canvases, Nine at 29” x 29”, Two at 33” x 33”, The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection, Frederick Brown Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Unfortunately, those differences are often made into something negative. A trait as innocuous as hair can be made into the thing by which we set ourselves apart—and even above—other people. Understanding the importance of a hair style to everyone’s freedom of self-expression is a key component to removing ourselves from the dehumanization that plagues media and entertainment. It is the same dehumanization, Clark reminds us, that has made it easier to subjugate groups of people throughout history.

“Angela Davis was wearing a huge Afro during the black power movement,” says Clark. “It became a symbol of embracing identity. The idea of celebrating the kink, the curl, and the twist is something that is celebrating a rich history and legacy.”

In addition to hair, Clark integrates plastic pocket combs into her work. She describes them as objects that are invested with a lot of cultural identity.

“The unbreakable comb is designed that way to win the battle against knotted hair. It is pocket-sized to be carried with you all the time,” explains Clark. “A tool like a comb has to do with certain groups of people that grow hair in a certain way. They tell us something about our economic structure. Being groomed means something.”

Follicular: The Hair Stories of Sonya Clark will be on display until May 14, 2017. It is an exhibition rich with history that you do not want to miss! For more of Sonya’s work, visit www.sonyaclark.com.

The Craftsmen’s Fall Classic!

What’s better than Feeding America? Feeding America while attending one of the country’s highest ranked craft festivals for free! The Craftsmen’s Fall Classic is a Roanoke favorite and is celebrating its 29th annual show. This event is a top 20 national qualifier for one of the best classic and contemporary craft shows. It has also been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. The Craftsmen’s Fall Classic chooses instead of charging admission to only ask for a food donation, because of these efforts this event has become the second-largest food drive that Feeding America South West Virginia put on. In 2015 the event pulled in 25,000 pounds of food! This year they are hoping to even surpass that. Monetary donations are also welcome.

ajanaku_obayana_31There’s hundreds of artists that participate in the event every year from 20 states. Of course, there’s the event favorites, but each year the event brings in many new artists. Items from baskets, to pottery, to fine art, and wood-work; from classic to contemporary styles there are thousands of pieces just waiting to be purchased. If the “big box” retail store items are not your taste this event is perfect for you! Each item being sold are made by the craftsmen participating. That makes these truly unique pieces for your collection. The styles vary widely so it is unlikely you walk away from the event without finding something just your taste. Many of the artists welcome custom work.

img_1205Not only can you find a special piece for your home or the perfect gift for that one aunt that is terribly difficult to shop for, you will be contributing to a great cause! This year the event falls on October 14, 15, and 16. Friday from 10 am to 8 pm., Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm., and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.

Admission is free with a food donation! Let’s all help Feed America this weekend at The Berglund Center!

Written by Nicole Brobston

“A Sense of Place” with local artist Clara Heaton

Photo credit : Kirsten McBride

At Bella, we are lucky to work in close proximity with some amazing artists in our community, like Clara Heaton. Clara is a prolific painter in her own right, but she also does a lot to support other artists in Roanoke and the surrounding counties. She recently completed her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in painting at Radford University. Through a strong mentorship with one of her professors, Dr. Halide Salam, and a passion for creativity, Clara is emerging with grace and tenacity into Roanoke’s flourishing arts community.

The passion in Clara’s paintings speaks volumes. It is a beautiful abstract culmination of her thoughts, how she interprets the beauty of her own personal experiences, and ultimately the world around her.

Dr. Salam and Clara. Photo credit : Kirsten McBride
Dr. Salam and Clara.
Photo credit : Kirsten McBride

After becoming Salam’s personal assistant, Clara saw her work for the first time. She immediately noticed connections in their work. Shortly thereafter, she also began a friendship with one of Salam’s graduate mentees, Kevin Kwon.

“Before I met Kevin, we were in a juried show together. One of my pieces was placed next to Kevin’s, and my dad pulled me aside and showed it to me,” Clara explains. “My work was very linear, and Kevin’s was incredibly organic.”

Both pieces were the start of something new for them as artists. Kevin and Clara were fascinated that, without having ever met one another, their two bodies of work had the exact same color scheme and such a cohesive presence in the room.

Months later, Kevin asked her if she would like to do a show together and Clara immediately said yes. She also suggested the include their mentor, Salam.

As serendipitous as this all may appear, the truth is, Clara’s dedication, courage, and love for art propels her forward as she pursues these opportunities.

DSC_0125
Photo credit: Kirsten McBride

“The cool thing about art and artists is that you cannot become a powerful artist by relying on your talent,” says Clara. “You have to start dedicating hard work to it. You have to say, ‘I’m going to set time aside for this.’ If you can’t get over your ego, then you won’t ever grow.”

Opening night for “A Sense of Place,” in which Clara, Kevin, and Salam will showcase their work, will take place in the Aurora Lightwell Gallery on September 2 at 5 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Together, the three artists from three different cultural backgrounds and levels of academic training, will respond to the feelings and perception of places unique to themselves through the discipline and practice of painting.

Visitors can also tour the gallery and view their work on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm until September 30. For more information, visit www.aurorastudiocenter.com.

Collaborative Coloring with Artist Linda Cato

Photo by Dan Wensley of Visual CMG

Stroll through any retail establishment selling art supplies or books, and you will see them—adult coloring books. Marketed towards older teenagers, grandparents, and everyone in between, they are taking the world by storm. In the beginning, it was easy to dismiss them as a fad that would disappear in a few years. However, as they increase in popularity, community events are starting all over the country where adults can meet, color, and explore their creativity. They have become a way to bridge the thriving arts community and those of us who are still searching for an artistic medium in which we can express ourselves.

Last summer, Tucson artist Linda Cato visited Roanoke and provided a hand drawn 16-foot mural for the public to color at 16 West Marketplace. Seventy people participated, and completed the gorgeous and unique piece in three hours. It was on display in 16 West Marketplace for about three months.

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Photo Credit: George Warner

It wasn’t Linda’s first experience with this type of event. In addition to being an artist, Linda is also an educator. She believes in the power of creativity to ignite positive change on personal, community, and global levels. Her passion for using the visual arts as a tool for change-making helps her students and people from around the world reflect upon and put forth solutions to issues that face us all.

Creating murals for her students and people in the community to color not only taps into that passion, it also helps strengthen the ties between those participating. In 2011, a few weeks after Gabby Giffords was shot in Tuscon, Linda was asked to do a healing art event for kids at the site.

“I asked the kids to draw with black and white sharpies on the theme of healing and nonviolence. We cut up all of the drawings and out of that we made a composition so every child’s work was represented in a mural,” she explains. “It was a wonderful example of how a community could come together after a tragic event and use this platform. It is just as relevant with adults. You just have to ask yourself what you want to say about your community, facilitate the work, and then you come away with a piece of work that is a testament of what you are holding in your heart.”

So often, as adults, we do not have the confidence to attempt to express ourselves through art. However, a desire to do that dates back to the days when humanity told their stories through pictures on the walls of caves. It exists, albeit more subtly, today in clothes we make or alter for ourselves, our gardens, and DIY gifts we give one another. Coloring takes that desire, makes it accessible to everyone, and allows for an expansion on that creative process.

Linda Cato portrait-2“Coloring is a way for people to connect and make something beautiful,” says Linda. “I think, on a group scale, it is really powerful. When we can connect with people in quiet ways and look towards the goal of making something beautiful together, we can begin to work towards healing and strength as a community.”

Come learn more about community coloring events and Linda Cato at Bella’s Lunch & Learn on July 19. Email us at editorial@beckmediagroup.com to RSVP and receive more information.

For more information on Linda’s collaborative coloring work please visit silverseaspr.com/content/coloring and to keep up with Linda’s projects please “like” her Facebook page, facebook.com/lindacatocoloring.

Meet Dr. Almeder

(Photo Credit: Megan Cole)

“I have a love/hate relationship with poetry, but I keep writing it.” 

Dr. Melanie Almeder is a professor at Roanoke College who participated in a program called, “Art by Bus”, which is sponsored by the City of Roanoke Arts Commission, Ride Solutions, and the Greater Roanoke Transit Authority. Dr. Almeder rode public transportation regularly over the course of a month in order to create a unique work of literature. She published a collection of poems that she created during her participation in this program entitled In Transit.

What do you want people to take away from these pieces?
I guess the most important thing is that we live in this very diverse and dynamic landscape and that riding [the bus] can help us all participate more. It can also help us celebrate what’s beautiful about it and name what we would like to see grow. Poetry can do that and everyone can participate in that act. Poetry is not just an academically-owned process, but an opening to allow others to write.”

Do you think you have to understand poetry to appreciate it?
I think that there are different modes of understanding and I think it’s important to stretch our minds to understand it so that we can praise the world. Many run from poetry because its difficult, but the difficulty pays off. It’s important to give poetry a chance and understanding comes in different forms. We can understand things emotionally, structurally, or musically. Any of those modes are valuable and I think it’s worth trying to understand.”

What do you see in the future for you? Any other works we should expect to see soon?
I’m working on finishing a second book of poems and I’m also working on a website with one of my research students. The website is a tool kit for anyone that wants to run a writing group in a women’s halfway-house prison and rehab. Anyone in the nation who is working in a women’s prison will be able to download this tool kit, which contains exercises, ways to run the group, and how to print work. Lastly, I’m running a writing circle at the Trust House downtown to reach out to the homeless. I’m looking forward to publishing some of their writings soon.”

Any advice for other artists?
I would say read, read, read, don’t quit writing, and never stop learning. Let the world and people teach you. Stay open and pay attention.”

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Art Underground

Join us as we support The Aurora Artisans (Susan Egbert, Meridith Entingh, Miki Overcast-Kallan, Susanne Sellars and Nancy Stellhorn) and their 1st Annual Art Show, “Underground Art” at Aurora Studio Center this weekend. The show will take place on Saturday, March 19, from 10am to 4pm and Sunday, March 20, from noon-4pm.
This two-day show and expo will feature over 20 artists across disciplines including painting, print-making, sculpture, pottery, mixed-media, photography, mosaics, fabric, and glass. Works will be on display AND available for purchase. This is a great opportunity to meet the artists and directly support our local economy.
IMG_3959The Aurora Studio Center is located on the lower level of the newly renovated AURORA building at 110 Campbell Avenue SW in downtown Roanoke. It features 10 commercial studios, a visual arts classroom, a movement studio, and galleries. When visiting, please enter at the Campbell Avenue entrance and head down the stairs to the Lower Level Studios and Event Space.
Best of all– Art Underground is FREE, family friendly and welcome to everyone! Check out their Facebook page for event updates and additional information. We look forward to seeing you there!

DIY Gifts for the Holidays

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is TEN DAYS AWAY!!!!

Some of the best gifts are handmade and heartfelt. If you are looking for an easy and unique DIY idea, you should pick up our December issue! We have two fun DIY projects that won’t take long to complete (trust us, we know time is precious right now). Or, you can head on over to our Pinterest page! There you will find tutorials for everything from leather totes and magazine racks to paper flowers and frames.

And if making something yourself is too time consuming, please remember to support your local artists!