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Art in the Hood 2006
Stories + Photographs by J R Compton
with images by Anna Palmer
LAST YEAR'S TOUR: Part One, Part Two & Part Three
THIS PAGE: Brad Abrams, Mark Epstein Roy Cirigliana Lady Bug
The Sunshine Man Robin Hawke & Valery Guignon Laura Abrams and Feedback
ast year we skipped Brad Abrams' glass works, because it was so far off the map. This year we went there first. Going out Hawn Freeway, it seemed forever. Coming back into the hood though, it was short to the next stop and fit right in.
Our plan was to hit only a few of the artists on the tour, but we managed to visit just under half — seven of fifteen, which we just had time for on this warm and friendly Saturday afternoon in February after our leisurely start.
We walked in behind a preoccupied policewoman who, having read the sign on the front gate, barked, "close the gate!" not realizing, I suppose, that we could read, too. We had parked legally on the right side of the road, but the road was clogged, and many visitors had chosen to park going the wrong way.
None were there when we left. Next year we expect warning signs.
We enjoyed our stay and lingered long at Abrams' eclectic acres, catching most of a glass blow demonstration, a bar, a dog to beware of, lots of things that either were art or close, and many open doors to see into and explore.
I did not figure out till much later that the several gift areas around the property were for people who did not live there, including Rita Barnard, Deanne Eskridge and Chris Lake (who is blowing glass below).
e visited Mark Epstein's home and studio on last year's tour. We liked his work, and we loved his big back yard. Not as extensive as Brad's, but similarly funky. We liked Mark's extended studio and the pools and fountains in his deep back and shallow, much-decorated front yards. But what we were most impressed by was this magnificent, apparently home-made or at least reconstructed kiln.
I shot photographs of the heat rising off the top, wiggling the trees behind, but the image would have to be huge to see the effect. We saw several glistening new kilns along the tour, but this is the one we remember.
infrared photography and metals
hough I'd never seen the inside of his house before, I've known Roy for a long time. He's been a stalwart of the tour and was sick last year, which was our first, and we were sad to not see his house then, so when he invited us in, we asked to go upstairs and wander all around.
I could hear him telling his stories in the living room downstairs while we were flashing flashes and jockeying for just the right angle for this or that, and when we passed the top of the stairway, I'd look down and see him looking up, wondering what we were up to.
"Most of the art is down here," he called to us as we first climbed the stairs. But we wanted to see where he lived, and we did. In the end though, we decided we'd rather keep his privacy private, although the one photo from upstairs that I really enjoyed shooting was of his clothes.
Roy has been wearing black since before anybody but Johnny Cash thought it was cool. In his black walled bedroom, gathered neatly around his low dark bureau were all of his clothes, and they were almost all black. I had to stop giggling to get a good shot in all that darkness. But these words explain the joke of it so much better than the photograph did. So they're here, and it isn't.
We trundled back down the stairs and captured his living room, kitchen and everything but his darkroom/studio. Upstairs, we were in his home and not his studio. But downstairs, in those few nooks where art wasn't in Roy's home, his home was art.
fter we visited Roy, we found a Ladybug flying around my car. Anna coaxed onto her fingers several times, which it seemed happy to do, and I tried to make a close-up portrait. This one, after many blurred and out-of-focus attempts and our little friend flying off between, finally worked.
Wish I could have captured its wings fluttering staccato, just before take off, looking brown and extended like one of Laura Abrams' Hip Poppies. Finally, with one, good, sharp photo, I opened my window and the Ladybug flew free into the hood.
Special thanks to Matt Brust for correctly identifying our Lady Bug.
Robin Hawke & Valery Guignon
sculpture and fabric
obin and Valery's places are in a beautiful, hilly neighborhood we celebrated with several photographs last year (links above). A horse sculpture that Anna admired last year was showing — with a big "sold" across its i.d — outside Robin's converted garage studio up a long driveway from the street. Once she and Robin got to talking, Anna learned she could pay out on a similar, new piece, which she will soon be the proud owner of.
While I was talking with Robin, a car backed precariously out of his parking space notched at the top of the drive, nearly rolling into a small, deep place, then a garage wall he probably could not have got out of easily. Robin stopped him quickly, telling me that last year, someone had likewise planted their car in the ditch along the drive much lower, nearly to the narrow, winding street below.
Ten people heaved together, she said, rescuing it from tow truck carnage.
aura Abrams' studio was one of our favorites on last year's tour, so we had to stop there again. Always a treat. Lots of differing shapes everywhere. Found objects, cast objects all swimming together in a busy studio flow. Fun to keep track of such an obviously talented artist.
The Sunshine Man
enamel glass and jewelry
dd that for a tour called Art in the Hood, The Sunshine Man and the kids around him were the only persons of color we saw in the whole tour. No Latinos, one Italian, we visited a European-accented sculptor last year — and a whole bunch of white people, despite that most of the people we saw between studios were not. I know a couple people who assumed, because of the name, only Black artists participated. Boy, were they wrong.
There's more racial diversity in the hood than is evident on this tour through it. Might take some effort, but I bet there are some serious non-white artists of quality in that hood.
ince it was in the whitest, least funky, least distinctive neighborhood we'd seen on our tour, we thought we probably did not want to go to Providence Pottery, but since we were so close, we went anyway, then turned right around. We didn't care much for the work inside, but we both liked their backyard pool's colorful edge.
esides the unrepresentative racial mix, my only complaints about the tour are that neither the map nor the website lists email addresses (I'd like to contact all involved to make sure I've identified their art correctly; not everything was marked), and that the map might have been more detailed and a little more careful about which streets went on and crossed each other, although most stops were easy to find.
Overall, great fun tour. Looking forward to doing it again.
Thanks for coming on the tour & glad you had a good time. Thank you for the nice review, too!
We tried desperately to find more artists, both Afro-American & Hispanic. I personally contacted every artist in our zip code areas that was registered with the City of Dallas, as well as posted notification in several prominent locations including the Latino Culture Center, South Dallas Cultural Center and emailed everyone on the Bath House list that was in our zip code area. Only Niyada Crossland (from Thailand), Carl Spoto (white), and Robin Wakefield (also white) responded to any of our recruiting efforts.
We will continue to look for more culturally diverse artists & as you said, I'm sure there are several good artists that are either A.A. or Hispanic for certain, in our area, and we ask that they come on down!
Thank you again for coming & reviewing the tour — I like your pictures a lot & your comments & if you have any ideas about any other artists of color for the tour, please let us know.
Cheers for now,
(on this page)
I also want to thank you for your positive review of our Art in the Hood Studio Tour. We work very hard on it.
Laura cleared up one thing — we tried and tried to find artists in outer racial groups to be on our tour to no avail.
Another note — you didn't mention (because you didn't know) that Robin Hawke is half Iroquois Indian. Her father is Sicilian and her Mother is from the Abenaki tribe in New Hampshire. So she is not "white" but passes for white as do many Native Americans until you get to know them.
(on this page)
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