I was excited (and nervous!) to be interviewed for the Mississippi Arts Hour. Larry Morrisey was incredibly patient and kind, and I enjoyed getting to speak about upcoming projects, and the innerworkings and support system of our local art community.
My husband and I both have an odd sense of humor. We play pranks on each other. We also have many "inside" jokes. One of us will suddenly shout out a random cheesy 90s rock lyric from one room, and the other will yell the rest of the lyric back, in response. We'll have an hour long debate in the car over the custody arrangement on Mrs. Doubtfire, or exactly how many days it would take to travel to Montgomery, AL on horseback. We're married, but we're the best of friends. I know my best friend. I know that sometimes he needs a little encouragement to start the day off in a pleasant mood, and get him in a good frame of mind for a stressful day at work. Sometimes, I leave him little notes in the morning...on a dry erase board by the coffee pot, on the bathroom mirror in dry erase marker, on a scrap of paper beneath his keys. One time I made 30 origami foxes and lined them up like a tiny little army, just sitting on his desk when he got home. It's just...our thing.
I started leaving him a series of fast watercolor notes in the morning. I hesitate to even call them watercolors, really. In truth, they're fast, sloppy sketches that I work up the night before, write a funny note on it, and set it where he can find it in the morning. Many are sketches of pop culture icons- Miley cyrus, Dolly Parton, Drake, James Brown. I thought they were kind of funny, and one day, I decided to post some on facebook. I was geuinely surprised to find that other people thought they were funny, as well. People were asking to buy them, or for me to post the next one, or if I would make reproductions of the notes.
At first I really balked at the idea. The notes were supposed to just be a personal joke between the two of us. It felt strange to share them with a larger audience. Also, they're not any great piece of art. They're just funny sketches. They happen quickly, and without much forethought. It was strange to share something that I didn't consider "my work" with the world. But, the sketches took on a mind of their own, as it were. They became their own thing. Seperate from my usual work, but still from my hand.
Finally, Ann Madden (the Lens of Smith and Lens Gallery, in Bay St. Louis) decided to give it a shot. We decided to release a few in a small set of notecards. Ann worked on the logo and formatting, and I gave her the sketches. Of course, she needed to photograph them properly- we couldn't use my low quality, spur of the moment cell phone photos. But, until the actual photos are released and ready to print, here's a quick teaser of some of the sketches to come. We think they're humorous, and we hope you do, too.
The artists of ACCE were really excited to create an outdoor gallery in downtown Biloxi. It was a pop up gallery that was up for two weeks- it was very well received, and we had many visitors, and got a lot of coverage in the local media. The video attached has some highlights from the installation process. We had a lot of fun working as a team to bring some life to the area.
Below is the press release I wrote to announce the gallery, and some photos after installation.
Biloxi, MS Oct 3 — Rethink. Revamp. Rekindle. The artists of Art Can Change Everything, a local art collective on the Gulf Coast, want to change the way you see your city. Beginning Saturday, October 4, twenty ambitious artists will bring an outdoor gallery to downtown Biloxi. Howard Avenue will be transformed- empty buildings filled with color, windows covered with contemporary works of art, all sharing the theme “Re.”
The project is the brain-child of local artist and designer Angie Molyneaux, who first entertained the idea in 2011. With the help of Biloxi Mainstreet and local business and property owners, the dream has finally come to fruition. Molyneaux says, “The goal here is get people actively involved in their community, and promote the arts. We hope to have both locals and tourists visit downtown Biloxi, as well as citizens who may not be aware of the renaissance that is taking place in the unique Vieux Marche area of Biloxi.”
The large scale outdoor art installation will remain up through the Cruising the Coast festivities, and will come to a close in conjunction with the Dio de Los Muertos themed party and second-line parade of Walter Anderson Museum’s annual WAMA JAMA fundrasier. Selected works will be either available for sale, or silent auction at the event.
The other artists had some really fun dresses- full skirts made out of old grocery bags, one outfit made entirely of old movie theater posters, and a dress from a burlap sack.
We finished out the night with some great entertainment, including a belly dance performance by Chloe Harville.
So I've mentioned that our art collective is always getting to participate in fun events. The Surrealistic Spectacle was no exception. Members of ACCE teamed up to make decorations, art installations, and don costumes for this event at the civic center. I decided to make a costume out of old drop cloths .
We live painted, had vendors set up in the courtyards, costume facepainters, belly dancers, hula hoopers, and Beats Antique put on a great show. Photo Gallery and Video of the event below (video courtesy of John Reyes)
I've been really busy since my last update. My good friend (and now business partner!) Catie Daniel and I have opened up a new studio in downtown Biloxi. Strange Bird Studio functions as a working studio and gallery. We have a lot of fun creating, hanging out, and meeting tourists and visitors who stop by. We stay busy with commissions and teaching our respective classes at the Mary C O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education, and the Kroc center. It's a nice little location with decent foot traffic, right near the beach and casinos. We love our new home!
The Art Can Change Everything Pop up show, lovingly dubbed "The Stoop Party" was a lot of fun. We were given access to a vacant bungalow, and held a pop up art show. The show was supposed to be up for one week, but given its success, and the charm it added to the burgeoning arts district, we were allowed to continue the show for a month. We had a lot of fun with this show. It was very informal, and had a very welcoming atmosphere. Along with the bands scheduled for the opening weekend, we also had informal jam sessions, and people brought instruments for everyone to play. I'd love to do a show like this again! Along with various other artworks we submitted, Catie and I made this large bird nest installation for the show:
Video and photo gallery of the Pop up show
Julia Reyes came up with the idea for The (Almost) Circle. A bunch of us will meet weekly for a drawing circle, and draw a 360 degree view of the artists next to us. I don't have pictures of most of the drawings yet, but I will post them (with the artists permission) when they make their way online. Until then, here are some pics from the first (Almost) Circle!
This week we had the opportunity to collaborate with the Magnolia Chamber Orchestra. Five artists were invited to the Ohr O'Keefe Museum of Art to paint to the orchestra's rehearsal of their Sturm und Drang performance. We painted to Hadyn No. 39 Symphony in G Minor. It was great to hear the music, and see the orchestra rehearse first hand! The paintings were displayed the next evening at the Mary C O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education, before the performance of Sturm und Drang.
I painted a mixed media piece called The Tempest
For more information on the Magnolia Chamber Orchestra, visit https://www.facebook.com/MagnoliaChamberOrchestra
I think we were all running off of little to no sleep, but the expo was a hit. I think the phrases I heard most were "Wait, are y'all from here? Like, from Biloxi?" and "I've never seen art like this down here!" It was also fun to see people I haven't seen in years, hear some great live music, and watch the public participate in the art exhibits. We got some great ACCE Crew shirts, sold a lot of work, and talked to fellow art lovers. I was dead tired by 9pm, but it was so worth it. Can't wait for the next project!
We were all stirring. The sounds of power saws, hammers, music, and laughter filled Vieux Marche in the middle of the night. We were so excited about the expo, and ready to put the finishing touches on things. Thursday and Friday night we still were busy building last minute projects. We poured concrete to weigh down the "clothesline" exhibit, Julia built her house for her "safe place" exhibit, and Angie and Toni started Toni's sculpture.
Art Can Change Everything Crew is hosting a Block party on Dec 1 with live music, street painting, interactive art exhibits, artist booths, and food. I'm really excited about this block party. It will drive people to the area businesses that are starting to slowly reopen, and inviting people to enjoy this space with us, and participate in the interactive exhibits will show them what we can do as a community if we all just start SHOWING UP and take ownership of the space. I just know it will flourish! Can't wait!
Below are a flyer, and a video I took that Chase edited to show what we have been up to at the Kress. So much fun!
The Kress Building and the ACCE crew made the local news! Click the photos to read the articles. Can't wait to start some new projects with this collective, and I love that Vieux Marche is being transformed into a place people want to frequent! We had another article in the local newspaper, The Sun Herald, and as soon as I can get a .gif of the article, I will post it, too.
In the heart of downtown Biloxi sits View Marche, an historic park and walk district that is PERFECT for retail shops, bars, live music, live art, and nightlife- except that it sits practically abandoned. For no obvious reason.
I've never understood why the area wasn't flooded with shops, bars, music, cafes, and galleries. The location is great- about a block from the beach and casinos, so it's in walking distance for tourists. It's close to the Ohr O'Keefe museum of art (designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry.) A tour train runs through at least twice a day, while guides describe the rich history of the area. It's right across the street from the brand new Coast Transit Authority bus station. It's right across the bridge from hip/artsy Ocean Springs.
I'm not sure if the shops moved out first, or if people just stopped frequenting the area, but at one time, it was apparently a bustling area. Before Hurricane Katrina swept through, there was a vintage book store, a few bars, a coffee shop/deli or two, but it still never seemed to hit its full potential.
One of the buildings in Vieux Marche is the old Kress Building. It was originally an old department store, erected in 1925. It was used off and on (with some renovation occurring the 1990, I believe) but nothing seemed to stick. After Hurricane Katrina it sat abandoned, until real estate developer Charles (Chase) Taylor snatched it up, and together with Angie Molyneaux (Gallery 782) they hatched a plan to transform the building into an outdoor gallery.
For over a year, Angie had been dreaming of livening up the area with outdoor art. She pitched the idea to Chase, and he graciously agreed to let artists use the old Kress building as an outdoor gallery while renovations were taking place on the inside. Chase and Angie tracked down over 20 young artists to paint murals on the ugly particle board that was currently covering the huge windows. With this group they formed a collective called Art Can Change Everything (which we lovingly refer to as ACCE.) I was lucky enough to be included in this group of artists, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life.
We had meetings. LOTS of meetings. We didn't tell anyone our plan- just the few of us involved. We planned for weeks- they arranged to get lifts, scaffolding, lights, music. We divvied up boards, and all planned out what we would paint. We trudged out to the building as night fell on Friday, October 19th, brushes, paint, spray paint, duct tape, and wheatpaste in hand. We stayed up for hours painting in the middle of the night- equipment beeping, music blaring, people laughing, sharing paint. Unexpected visitors dropping by to see what the hell we were all up to in the middle of the night.
We worked this way for three days. At any given time SOMEONE was at the building. Artists were still arriving at 2am, 5am, 12pm. We just worked and hung out as a community, and the space was filled with life. It was SO amazing.
I think I only got about 6 hours of sleep in three whole days, but it was worth it, and I would do it all over again- and I suspect we will.