Both the Jacksonville State University art exhibit “Sample” and the new display by East Alabama Artists claim a unique distinction this month. Although Hammond Hall Gallery is the location for JSU’s art exhibit as usual, the gallery’s been transformed dramatically into a new type of venue. Being there is like discovering an entirely new place.
East Alabama Artists, the group that was formerly located at ArtWorks, has moved to a new place to exhibit: Nunnally’s Custom Framing and Noble Gallery at 1014 Noble St. The two floors of this space — the main floor and the loft — give the show a different and exciting setting for the showing of art. Evidently, the creative spirit moved with the artists.
It took an art department to raise this show, according to visiting artist Cayewah Easley. And all of the precise measuring, hammering, building and sorting paid off in producing an interesting and uncommon show of art, crafts and design. This one is an installation as well as an exhibit.
Easley, chair of the Fibers Department at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, opens her world of textiles and fibers to viewers by demonstrating how a space can be changed and more fully appreciated by using different textures and color patterns. The gallery’s gray-carpeted walls remain the same, but now the floor resembles a patchwork quilt of carpeted squares, laid out by the students, and set on a diagonal. At the show’s opening, patrons were surprised to learn that there are windows on the gallery’s outside wall. On the same inside wall, they have been covered up by the carpet. Line tracings in this exhibit show the outlines of the windows.
Brick is a structural and decorative product used by artisan builders in many ways. Easley has brought “the outside of the building in” to the viewer’s eye by attaching her semblances of bricks, made of hand-blocked printed felt, to the inside wall. The light casts shadows on this unit of the show, deepening the bricks’ length; they seem like standard bricks.
“This is what I like about art,” said the artist. “It makes you look at things more deeply.”
On another wall, work by the artist and several of her former students (who are now professional weavers and illustrators) are displayed. This collection includes embroidery, drawings and paintings.
The origin of Easley’s first name drew questions at the opening. “Cayewah” is the phonetic spelling of the Kiowa Indian tribe, a tribe that lived on the plains of Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The artist’s father, who was interested in the Native American culture, found the spelling of her name in a Bureau of American Ethnology annual he was given while enrolled at Kansas City Art Institute.
“Sample” will be up through Feb. 27.
East Alabama Artists
The new location drew new viewers to the exhibit’s opening last week, according to Terry Harris, spokesperson for East Alabama Artists. Also, seeing paintings placed in the loft gave people an idea of how the pieces can look in a home setting, she said. Jew-elry, gourds and pottery are also on view.
Landon Shirey, who works at the framing shop, helped set up the exhibit.
“I would say some of the art is traditional in subject matter, but done with contemporary products,” Shirey said. Tora Johnson’s watercolor, for example, pictures a waterfall painted on yupo paper, a plastic-like paper. “The result is amazing to me,” Shirey added. “Actually, I think every piece here is unique.”
One of the first paintings seen on the left wall upon entering from the shop’s street entrance is by one of ArtWork’s original members, Rita Springer. Her oil on canvas is “Vase with Poppies,” a somewhat expressionistic piece. The artist loved to draw as a child, and art remains an ongoing passion with her. She has attended workshops in Europe, Mexico, the British Isles and the United States and finds time to paint with artist friends at Heritage Hall Museum in Talladega and in a master class in Birmingham. Her work is in private collections throughout the Southeast and in Washington, D.C.
Tommy Moorehead’s oil on canvas is seen above Springer’s painting in the display. His painting’s title, “Storm’s A Coming,” is a composition from his “Disappearing South” series. Moorehead is exhibits coordinator at Heritage Hall Museum.
The exhibit continues through April.