Minda Rella on This Comic Life (& Death)

The Multiplicity Bio: You might think Minda is actually more than one person, based on all she does each week. By day, you might find her tending cadavers in the morgue at Fay Tech. Or using her vocal talents as an on-air personality for Beasley Media Group. By night, you’ll find her producing and hosting comedy shows for #910Comedy, the stand-up comedy organization she runs with Dashawn Byron, or tapping into the local pin-up/burlesque subculture for fundraisers at Dirtbag Ales. Oh, and there’s podcasts, too: Dead Girls Talking and That’s Just My Face. Add to that parenting her kids and hitting the road for serious social distancing in her Scamp tiny trailer, when Minda says “don’t get stuck on one path,” she speaks from deep life experience.

Don’t get stuck on one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. 

Minda Rella

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m very fond of being on the Hope Mills Lake in my kayak 

3 Things you can’t live without: my kids, my kayak, and my phone 

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Val Humphrey. Her art is amazing. 

Minda and DB prep for a #910Comedy show

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Working (slightly) less

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Putting together a talk show 

On air with former co-host Elic

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? I’m very blessed that I have many people pushing me along. Amber Stevens and Tim Dippel are the loudest cheerleaders. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t get stuck in one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. We have many outlets and a podcast network. 

You Have to Get Creative to Be Creative as an Artist-Parent

This one took to visual art early. And she sometimes still draws on herself, now a teen.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to be a practicing artist and mother of young kids in the most expansive of times. But throw a global pandemic on us that keeps our little ones at home or away from regular childcare and tosses our creative processes and rituals out the window… well, life could get messy fast. Or leave artists without practicing their skills for months on end, feeling adrift without production.

I speak first hand! Having a baby at home and wanting to reboot this website with regular weekly content has been harder than I anticipated! I figured I wasn’t the only one who was both struggling with their creative work AND could use a little inspiration. Here are five different get-art-done tactics and some wisdom from other local Fayetteville artist-mamas.

1. Constantly Be Planning
Jason Feifer, dad and editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, recently posted a great series about how he likes to spend a lot of time pulling topics together, considering questions and options, letting ideas simmer as he takes care of his kids or home tasks, and then planning his work before sitting down to write. After all this mental cogitation, the actual writing is fast and focused. I love this process for creating original work. I often find myself ruminating while rocking the baby to sleep or picking up ideas while we’re out riding around.

Muralist and mama of four (9, 7, 3, and a new baby!), Lacey Crime has become masterful at planning: “Since the pandemic I have become more motivated and driven. I have actually landed more commissions during this time than any other. I am realizing the importance of being consistent with my work and trying to set goals that take me out of my comfort zone. Mainly by getting word out there that people could use a custom mural they just don’t realize it yet.”

2. Play Over Perfect
Incorporate playtime with the kids into your creative process. Kids want to do what you’re doing! Why fight it. Instead, use their natural curiosity to increase your own playtime and output.

Mixed media Artist & Mama of three (13, 9, 8), Jen Hancock found inspiration this way. “My creation process became a little tricky to manage during the onset of the pandemic. Routine and my normal means of gathering inspiration were thrown out the window, and my focus shifted to managing online crisis-schooling and keeping everyone from losing their mind. Honestly, it was so overwhelming at first I fell into a complete creative funk. There was so much going on, I had a tough time focusing, and my creation space had turned into a classroom. So I did what I love to do and got creative! I stopped thinking about developing my business and dug back in to why I love to create. My youngest is my art buddy, so I snatched her up and we started working on small projects together, and drew inspiration from everything going on in the world. We created art together as a family to stand up against racism, and to ease our minds and escape from the reality of being stuck at home. Slowly, but surely we’re finding our way back into a routine, and I’ve become truly inspired by stepping back and refocusing.”

3. Change Your Goals
We all had different goals, both personal and professional, for 2020 at the start of the year. But with the novel coronavirus acting like an 8 month old tossing all her toys around the room with our lives, resetting goals is probably something we’ve all done at least once this year.

That reset could be shifting into smaller chunks. In Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam writes about doing the smallest possible step that will allow your brain to recognize forward momentum. Maybe that’s writing one hundred words or doing a single sketch or putting together a single staff of notes or dance moves.

Or you could go the other direction, and work towards one large outcome or project rather than several you may have identified back in January (aka another lifetime).

Graphic Designer and mama of two (6, 8), Betsy McElwee has learned a lot about the work goals she wants for the future. “I’m focusing on bigger picture projects that require more thought process and less fast paced turnaround on small jobs. I’m fortunate in that I haven’t seen a huge decrease in work, as I have steady client base and agency work at a local company. But these strange times have definitely provided insight to the type of work that I want to be doing, and find fulfilling and worthwhile.

4. Nurture Rituals
Find your best work time (if you can). In the book The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide for Fitting Creativity into Your Life, Shona Cole writes: “Are you a morning or evening person? If morning, consider getting up a little earlier to complete a specific item on your art to-do list. If evening, get your evening chores out of the way and stay up an extra thirty minutes.”

Also, have a dedicated space (no matter how small). Again from The Artistic Mother: “It is important to have an art table, desk, or craft room. It does not need to be huge or fabulous at the start, but it needs to be functional.”

Visual Artist & Mama of two adorable girls (5, 7) Katlin McFadden is grateful for this time and space: “I have a studio in my apartment where I work on my art daily. Sometimes I get up at 5 am to paint until my kids get up for school and I also paint in the evening hours when they’re watching a movie or in bed. My output has improved because I spend a lot more time at home in my studio producing work. I wasn’t really sure how I would be impacted but this time of focus has been a wonderful growing period for me and artist and I’ve produced some of my best work.

5. Find Accountability
Partner up! Have weekly creative sessions with another artist parent. Use deadlines to your advantage (preferably imposed by someone else, real or fake) to get moving on making. And don’t be ashamed to ask for help! From your parenting partner or other quaren-team adult, if you need help with the kids in order to have creative time, or help from your fellow creatives in getting motivated or finishing your work.

Graphic Designer & Mama of three littles (1, 5, 7), Chanai “Genie” Winborn has a great accountability team at the creative co-working space she runs with her husband! “I connect with creative supporters both new and old everyday on social media, mainly Facebook and those that are members at Creative Space Station and people that may come by the station looking for creative help.”

If you’re an artist-parent, how has your own creative process changed in 2020? Drop a comment and let me know!

Honorable Poetry: Law Bullock II

A native of Fayetteville, Lawrence “Law” Bullock II is a motivational speaker, spoken word artist, the founder of M.U.G. Photography, a published author, member of Bronco Toastmasters, and a member of Let’s Make It Happen Together, a nonprofit providing positive alternatives for at-risk / high risk youth and families in our communities. His poetry projects have been in a print anthology, online magazine, and his own book. Law acknowledges that art can connect people from different walks of life. No matter your belief system, art knows how to build bridges.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Sweet Palette and Coffee Scene tie

3 Things you can’t live without: God, family and poetry

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Neil Ray

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I picked back up drawing and sketching since it all began

What is one of your current artistic experiments?  Structuring poems into a storyline that continues over several pieces

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My Aunt

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Stay true to yourself. Never sacrifice who you are just to fit in with the crowd. There will only be one you that brings what you bring to the art form.


 

Editor’s Note Sept ’20: On Being More Radical

Green sprouts coming up from soil with visible roots

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the word “radical.” We are six months into safer-at-home mandates and miniscule groups of people (can you really call 3 people “a group”?). The performing arts world is shu/attered; other kinds of arts are reeling, too, because of lack of money/time/resources/audiences.

The term “radical”, it turns out, has many definitions, but two distinct connotations. The first is Root or Foundation. The second is Extreme or Revolutionary.

In this time and space of Not Like It Was, how can we as artists or arts supporters be more radical?

Perhaps you want to approach radical from the first meaning. That could be deepening the basic skills of your art practice: starting a morning pages routine, sketching faces over and over, or reading a lot of plays by playwrights you don’t normally experience.

You could also learn some of the fundamentals of the business side of arts. Reading a marketing book, getting a separate bookkeeping organization set up for your art, or networking online with other artists in your field would all yield positive returns After.

Or there’s the simple-not-easy idea of just making A LOT of your art. We all know the story of pottery students who made a ton of pots wound up making better art than the students who instead tries to make One Best Pot. Maybe you commit to making a new “thing” (poem, song, jewelry, papercraft, monologue) every day.* What might you discover about your art with that kind of bulk? You might become more efficient. Or wind up with a new style, or incorporating new materials.

The more common connotation of radical these days is Revolutionary. Maybe that resonates more for you. How could you reform your own practice?

You could use this time to learn a new art. Or find a new audience for your work. Maybe you think about what radical transparency looks like: in how you work, in how you price your work for sale, in how you ask for donations/patronage. Maybe it’s working with people practicing a different art, or in a different field altogether, to produce something completely new.

While I like all of the questions in our Q&A series, my favorite is current experiments. I love learning about how these artists are expanding their own knowledge and practice.

How are you being radical these days? Share your ideas below and inspire someone else!

*Let me know if you need an accountability partner for this! If there are enough of us, we’ll start a small group!

Adrienne Trego Transfers Skills and Mediums

Adrienne sporting her own resin earrings.

Artistic bio: Adrienne Trego is a visual artist and non-profit professional from Pennsylvania who has called Fayetteville her home since 2013. She currently works with the Autism Society of Cumberland County as the Director of Programs and Outreach. Prior, most of her nearly 15 years of non-profit experience was with arts organizations.

Art has always been at the center of Adrienne’s life. She is incredibly fortunate to come from an arts-loving family and grew up with access to both professional and community theater, dance and music lessons, and art classes. Having access has made much of her arts administration focus on outreach and accessibility for those who have not had the privilege. Holding a degree in Arts Integration, she sees the arts as a powerful tool for emancipatory and experiential education. As a visual artist, Adrienne works in a variety of mediums, but primarily creates wire sculptures, resin jewelry and has more recently discovered her love for fiber arts, specifically embroidery.

I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration.

Adrienne

Favorite Local Third Place: I haven’t utilized too many of my “Third Places” during the pandemic, but Rude Awakening downtown is one of my very favorite places and has been since we made Fayetteville our home.

3 Things you can’t live without: Flavored seltzer water (I used to be loyal only to La Croix but have since branched out), my good pair of pliers, and while they aren’t “things”, I would be remiss if I answered any set of questions without including my love for not just my pets (mutt extraordinaire Ruby and our cat, the Trash Prince Barley) but most everyone else’s pets too. I am known to get lost in a group tracking down a cute dog or a stray cat.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Oh, there are so many! I have been so lucky to work with so many incredible artists, picking one is so hard. But due in part to my recent obsession with embroidery, I have been really inspired by Nanette Zeller, a mindblowingly talented textile artist (based in Moore County I believe) who I first met in 2014 or 2015. In addition to her amazing talent, she is so humble and incredibly kind and a joy to work with. Her kind words about my beginner embroidery work have been so encouraging.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Artistically, I have learned to be more diligent about time spent on creative work. Early on in the pandemic, I knew that as an extrovert in isolation I needed to check in on my mental health often, and a consistent artistic practice is always essential to my well being. So I learned to work on at least one of my many ongoing art projects every single day, even if I don’t really feel like it. Unless I was under a deadline for someone, I used to only create when I felt inspired – and there is value to that – but there is also something fascinating about creating work without “inspiration”. It may sound like some artsy self-help nonsense, but I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration. Some of my best work has been produced when I really had to push myself to produce it.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently shrinking down some of my embroidery designs to make them into jewelry. It’s exciting but also feels pretty typical for me, since creating jewelry has always been consistent across any mediums I’ve discovered. But it’s been so interesting to take embroidery – a medium that conjures up very traditional images of samplers and Grandmothers – and do things that turn that idea on its head. In February, I was delighted to participate in “The Vagina Monologues” with the best group of women I could ever imagine, including my sister Devin. As part of this, I also had the opportunity to include some of my visual art, and I chose embroidery as the medium. I ended up primarily embroidering women’s naked bodies (mostly fat ones, too!), as I was inspired by ideas around bodily autonomy and women’s agency. It’s not exactly what one would think of when they think of embroidery, but it’s really a medium that has had a recent rise in popularity, and most of it has been taking a lot of these traditional techniques and using them to create more modern designs.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Oh, that’s tough. I am one of those really lucky individuals who is just surrounded by supportive and loving people. I truly can’t pick just one person, my parents, sister, husband, extended family, friends – they have all encouraged my work and most have bought my work, too.

But an early strong influence is my Studio Art teacher in high school, who I am still lucky to be connected with via Facebook. I always was making art, from my earliest memories. But I struggled with a lot of basic drawing, and therefore believed that I was not a good artist. While I have since studied drawing and gotten better, I still gravitate towards other mediums, which I would have never thought of doing if it wasn’t for her encouragement and her introducing me to many materials and techniques that I still lean on today. She had a profound impact on my life and I am so grateful for her early encouragement and to be able to still be connected with her today, some 20 years later.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Go to school for art. I’m serious. So many people seem to have this idea that being an artist isn’t a real profession, or that you have to get a degree in something “practical” or else it’s a waste. This is simply untrue: an art degree is surprisingly practical and flexible. There are so many things that you can do with an art degree – my career is a good example of that. And I use the creative skills I learned in school everyday in my day job and in my personal artistic practice.

Listening and Learning: Singer-Songwriter Lisette

The artistic bio: Blending elements of dark alternative pop with orchestral instrumentation and electronic production, Lisette creates colorful, cinematic soundscapes that are enhanced by her powerful vocals. She is a singer-songwriter born from early influences of rock, alternative, indie pop, and her love for classical music and film scores. Her music is comparable to the likes of Evanescence and BANKS. She began writing songs at 15 and performed at music venues and open mics around her home state of North Carolina. While studying music business and popular music in college, she stumbled upon her love for producing and she released her debut single “Run This Far” in 2018. Lisette won ‘Best Rock Female’ at the 2019 Carolina Music Awards.

Lisette captivates audiences with her haunting voice and lyrical poetry that flows within her songs. Her debut EP Beneath the Surface released November 1, 2019.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Coffee Scene or Rude Awakening! Dirtbag Ales is also one of my favorite nighttime spots.

3 Things you can’t live without: My cat, piano, and acoustic guitar

EP release at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Nov 2019.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Lauren Light. She’s actually from Greensboro, NC but I’d still say she’s considered local. She’s a pop singer-songwriter, co-founder of twoOhsix Music, and also runs a podcast called “The Enlightened Musician,” which focuses on the music business and turning your art into a successful business. 

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Lately I’ve been making my morning cup of coffee and sitting on my deck to read and/or journal (if it’s not too hot!). I’ve really been enjoying that morning ritual to clear my mind and feed my imagination before work.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I actually just finished recording an acoustic version of my debut EP Beneath the Surface with my good friend cellist Justin Mackey. The production of the original EP was electronic pop with cinematic elements and I really wanted to strip everything back and focus on the raw emotions and lyrics of each song. We took each of the five songs and reimagined them using organic instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, and cello.

Lisette and Justin Mackey.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My parents have always encouraged me to reach for the stars when it comes to my music. Neil Donnell Ray, who is a pillar of the Fayetteville music scene and hosts The Coffee Scene’s Open Mic Night, has always been a big supporter of mine since I began performing there when I was 16. He’s been around through the years to see my growth as an artist and has always encouraged me. Also, my college music professor Dr. David Lee Fish, cellist Justin Mackey, and, of course, my friends.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? If you want to make a full time living from being an artist, learn as much as you can. Not only about music in general or your instrument of choice but also about the music business itself. In this day and age, it’s crucial to be well rounded and knowledgeable about branding, marketing, social media, booking practices, etc. Gone are the days where record labels develop artists and help them build their fan base. They want to sign artists who have their own following and brand, which they can then help them to achieve even higher heights. With that said, these days you don’t even need a record label to be successful. Social media and the internet has completely changed the game and any artists in any location or any genre can be successful if they have the right tools. Remember, if you don’t know how to do it yourself you will have to pay someone else to do it for you. This is why I’ve taught myself music production, graphic design, video editing, website design, photography, etc on top of getting my Bachelors degree in Music Business and Popular Music.


Summer Afternoon Color

Sunlight streams through clouds over mural on Old St in downtown Fayetteville, NC.
photo by devra thomas

Do you know of a cool art thing anywhere within Fayetteville city limits? Let us know where it is so we can grab a picture of it!

Or maybe you already have a cool photo of Fayetteville art [people/object/place]? Let us know so we can feature it for our Final Friday Photo!

Merry Musician Michael Daughtry

The professional bio: Michael Daughtry is a singer/songwriter from North Carolina. He graduated from Berklee College of Music (magna cum laude) where he received several performer/songwriter awards for his infectious song crafting. He gigged at the Charles Playhouse periodically for Blue Man Group performances in Boston. His current songs reflect the trials and joys of life. He has recently received recognition from artists such as John Ford Coley, Derek Trucks, Edwin McCain, Luenell, Guy Torry, Jocko Sims, Bleu, Dale Baker (Sixpence None the Richer), and Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish. He has performed for fifty and fifty thousand in his career. He teaches acoustic guitar and piano. 

Favorite Local Third Place: My mom and dad’s house.

3 Things you can’t live without: Peanut Butter, my Calendar, Coffee

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Wow it’s hard to pick just one, but El’Ja Bowens

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Online private music instruction

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Get the Drift. It’s a half hour weekly life streaming event with music, recurring segments, games, and ridiculousness. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork?: The living legend that is Neil Ray!

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre?
Write out a few one year, five year, and ten year goals. Keep them to yourself (or share with a trusted love one). Make friends with at least a few folks who share your goals. Find mentors!

Celebrating my Birthday by Celebrating Local Culture

Dateline: 7/17, aka MY BIRTHDAY!

Since it’s my birthday, I thought I’d write about some of the things art-related I adore about my home here in Fayetteville, NC. When we moved here in Jan 2019, I figured there would be a thriving arts scene, since the Arts Council here is so active. But as I’ve gotten to know the artists who call the “City of Misfits” home, the depth and breadth of art here takes my breath away. For a small Southern city filled with a young, fairly transient population, Fayetteville is an incredibly creative place to be. Supporting these artists and this community is truly a gift to myself.

Downtown Public Art: downtown Fay continues to steadily “glow-up,” as the kids say. Part of the transformation is the public art that is on display throughout the area. A few pieces are permanent installations (“Winged Glory” by Jack Howard-Potter at CFVH Medical Arts building, Venus Flytrap at edge of Person St), but many are temporary, which adds to the delight of visiting downtown on a regular basis to discover something new. And I can’t forget the incredible mural on the rear of the Capitol Encore building (which is actually the school’s entrance)! It’s easily one of the best places for sweet selfie action.

“Windowstone” at HQ library. It reminds me of pi.

Cumberland County Library Art Collection: Did you know the library houses an incredible art collection and regularly puts pieces on display? I want to do an entire post/series on this amazing asset. I mean, the library system here is an incredible asset all on its own, and to have the art on top of that? ::mimes mind-blowing::

Singer/Songwriter Lisette at the Open Mic, Oct 2019

Open Mic night at The Coffee Scene: this was my first inkling of how varied and talented the artists are here in Fayetteville. If you’re not checking out this Sunday/Monday night event, usually hosted by the Godfather of Poetry Neil Ray, you’re missing out. Check the Fb page for when they livestream if you can’t be there in person (once we’re post-Covid restrictions).

STS Season 19-20 kickoff party. A raucous gathering. Good times.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare: I have a feeling if the Bard were suddenly transported to modern-day Fayetteville (I cannot WAIT for the next Bill&Ted’s movie!), he would adore this inventive theater company and the all-encompassing productions they are known for. STS shows are on the edge of being immersive theater (their drunk Shakespeare show arguably are immersive theater) and you want to show up early and pay attention through intermission so you don’t miss any of the character interaction/musical numbers/actor banter going on. They’re trying very hard to offer additional expansive content right now during Pandemic 2020 and I can’t wait to see what brilliant artistic exploits will happen once theater goes live in-person again. Do yourself (and them) a favor: become a Patreon supporter and get access and insider perks!

Hanging out at LeClair’s, May 2019

LeClair’s General Store: I love soaking in the laid-back creative vibe of this coffeehouse/vintage goods/handmade art shop. Perfect for solopreneur working, small group meetings, or pre-theater drinks (it is right across from Cape Fear Regional Theater). Pat and his team do an exquisite job curating and displaying beautiful merch.

Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra: I have loved classical music since I got my first cd: Beethoven’s 5th Symphony with my first boombox, Christmas of 1990 (such an arts nerd from a very early age). So of course I am thrilled to have the FSO here in town. Their season typically has 6-8 concerts performed at venues around town, including Methodist and Fayetteville State Universities. Maestro Stefan Sanders does an incredible job illuminating audiences about the BTS of classical music.

Sculpture show at Botanical Gardens, summer 2019

Cape Fear Botanical Gardens: Visiting the BoGardens is always visually inspiring, any time of year. The holiday lights tour was so much fun; the touring sculpture show was like a scavenger hunt for adults. It’s easy to spend a morning here, meandering the paths and enjoying the different gardens. There’s even a mini-amphitheater, which I’d love to see used for some theater performances (I know it’s happened in the past, but I haven’t personally taken one in yet)!

These are just off the top of my head, in no particular order, and reflect the tiniest portion of the breadth of art available here in Fayetteville. After the pandemic is over, I’ll celebrate my birthday in high style by visiting all of these, and more!