Motivation and Mess-Making with Maggie McLaughlin

I’m Maggie from the Midwest. I’ve been making art since I was seven years old. I am skilled in many areas, but I specialize in colorful acrylic portraits and animals. I have a bachelor’s in Studio Art with an emphasis in Painting and I am pursuing a masters in Museum Studies. I teach art locally at Wine & Design and I am interning at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. You can currently find my art on display at Wine & Design downtown and in the Public Works Show at the Arts Council of Fayetteville.

Green flower on orange background with text "we all miss each other"
“we all miss each other” painting

Favorite Local Third Place (not home, not work, a place you like to hang out, talk about the world): Blue Moon Café for cocktails with my best girlfriend!

3 Things you can’t live without: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I was recently in a show with Samod Wilson and I really loved the portrait work he did. His work is so skilled and colorful!

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I finally gave in to listening to podcasts and I like it so much, I hardly watch TV anymore.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Before quarantine, I was very interested in acrylic pour painting. Now I am revisiting more techniques like printmaking, stencil work, and non-canvas painting surfaces like wood.

Maggie working

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? My husband has been an amazing support system! He keeps me motivated even when I don’t want to be. He is incredibly driven, which I admire.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Ask questions, stay motivated, sign up for shows! Learn from your peers. Failure is a lesson, not a reason to quit. Being an artist can be hard, but stay with it and it will love you back. If you feel out of your element, get involved anyway and you will gain vital experience.

Catching All the Artistic Opportunities: Jessilee Hari

Jessilee Hari in her art studio, various paintings and collage on the wall behind her

Besides family and a career as a logistics specialist in the Air Force, Hari works across both visual and performing arts fields. You can also catch her catching Pokemon in downtown Fayetteville on Community Pokemon Go! Days.

I was born with a natural drive to create art. I began with doodles, which turned into painting murals on my bedroom walls. That drove me to create completed works of art. I am skilled in modeling clay, pottery, drawing, painting, vocal arts, and performance arts. I attended Mississippi School of the Arts, a high school for artistically gifted kids, where I found out I could compete vocally. I sang at Carnegie Hall in NY and performed John Rutter’s “Requiem” with our choir. I also fell in love with dance: I created my own choreography for a show. In the visual arts, I was awarded the highest accolades for my portfolio in MS. I put on my own show and fell in love with displaying my works. Years later I put on a second show held in Memphis, TN and am now currently in the works for my third show to be held here in Fayetteville.

Put your voice in your art and you will find gratification in your work.

Jessilee Hari

Favorite Local Third Place: I have to admit, I am stuck on Latitude 35’s shrimp tacos with sweet potato fries. I crave them. So, I like to take my out of town family and friends there to enjoy the patio seating. I have been to a few events there, one of which was with the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. I have had art discussion meet ups on the patio as well. I love it. It is a wonderful place to sit down for a discussion and a meal with a breeze on your face and a cold one to sip on. The staff is friendly, and the establishment has a family feel to it, as if they genuinely appreciate you coming to dine.

3 Things you can’t live without: Standup comedy. I LOVE to laugh, and many nights I fall asleep watching Dry Bar Comedy videos online. I feel like laughter is a medicine of its own. Just a few laughs every day keeps me feeling positive. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative parts of life right now. 

Cereal. It is its own food group in my home.

Outdoor experiences. Camping, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, tree climbing, inline skating, biking, sky watching, rainstorms, stone skipping on lakes, fishing, etc. All of it. Many of my most nostalgic memories are from the outdoor moments in my life. Being outside inspires me to really take in life in the moment. It inspires me to create.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I have fortunately had the opportunity to meet several local artists. One of my favorite local artists was a woman I met through the Cool Spring Downtown Street Busker program. I wish so badly I could remember her name. Fortunately, I can’t forget her performance. Her confidence in her art form was striking and mesmerizing. Belly dancing is so physically demanding. She had the moves and security in her own talent to perform in front of hundreds of people both on the street and at local events. She was a beautiful soul. 

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have begun illustrated journaling. Covid-19 has completely changed the way I live my life. With all the added stressors, I needed a cathartic outlet I could pick up and put down with no associated time limit. I found illustrated journaling to be an important part of stress relief in that the images do not need to be planned out or utilize any formal techniques like I would with a painting. The images also flow freely from my mind like words would for a writer. I began my artistic journey with graphite #2 pencils and pens in the classroom. Going back to that baseline feels like a blast from the past.  I forgot how much I love to draw. I usually utilize painting as an outlet, so I like to incorporate mixed media in the journal illustrations: graphite, tea, pen, or watercolors. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I love to experiment with new media. Right now, I am experimenting with adhesives and glass. I am only using the glass as the material to create the images on. I am using adhesives to create textures and translucent imagery. I am enjoying this form of experimentation quite a bit. It feels like a problem to solve since I am learning the capabilities of each adhesive. I love mixed media. 

To give an example, I used a glass pane as my canvas. I used color pigment in an adhesive to create solid color marks on the glass. Then I filled in areas with a clear adhesive and strategically implanted pigments into it to leave the translucent effect. My favorite objective for mixed media is creating art that makes onlookers want to touch it. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Out of all my mentors over the years, there has always been one constant supporter of my art: my Father. I have had art instructors when I was a teen, admirers in my friends, but no one who has ever believed in me more than my Dad. If he could, he would buy every piece of art I ever create or commission me to create works for his home. I have a completely biased supporter, but he has encouraged me to pursue my artistic interests over anything else due to the intrinsic rewards I get from them.  He would say “you can work any job to get money; why not be in a career that doesn’t feel like work?” He always seemed to have all the right words to say. My Father put many miles on his vehicle transporting me back and forth from his home to Mississippi School of the Arts. He encouraged me to attend their program there, for which I lived on campus for 2 years. I have not had formal training beyond those 2 years, but they impacted my entire view of what art means. If it were not for my Father, I would have never had that opportunity in my life. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t feel like art is a competition of skill, but rather a journey to self-discovery. No, seriously.  So many people criticize the definition of art, trying to fit it into one description or another. “That’s not Art; that’s a craft” or “That’s not Art; I could do that if I felt like it”. Lose the labels and ditch the unnecessary censorship. Your art is just that. I used to strive for perfection in my drawings. For a little while, I thought my art was poor quality because I was not creating hyper-realistic images. Then I remembered the reason I first picked up the brush in the first place. The process of creating was more important than the result. What ended up on the paper or canvas was my voice. Put your voice in your art and you will find gratification in your work.

It may be 2020, but we’re still doing a season of gratitude

It’s November so internet rules state I must post a gratitude list.

But this blog isn’t about me, it’s about all the amazing artists in and around Fayetteville.

So I asked them who they were grateful for.

The love train was phenomenal.

Arts Event Manager and writer Ashanti Bennett (and one of my personal gratitudes) called out painter Jen Hancock, who choose two other painters: “This year, I am grateful for all of the BLM inspired artists and artwork, but Carlos Tolentino’s George Floyd portrait particularly stands out for me. It was a beautifully and powerfully portrayed artwork reminding me that there is a whole nation of people within our nation who have felt unable to breathe for centuries and we all need to do better, and be better humans. I am also infinitely grateful for another of the local heroes of our artist world, Mary Ward, whom we tragically lost a week ago. Not only did she create art that burst at the seams with bright and loving joy, but she bestowed her passion and love of art on to my children who were blessed enough to call her their art teacher. She is already truly missed.”

Minda Rella tagged Val Humphrey, who said, “I’d like to shoutout Beth Davis. I pick her because, not only is her artwork visually stunning and complex, but she also happens to be remarkably kind and humble. I love her vivid use of color and intricate line work. Her art is very different from mine, and yet it inspires me so much.”

Doug Burton and Michael Daughtry caught their own loop. Michael said about Doug “Thank you for supporting original artists and creating excellent original music!” And then Doug responded about Michael: “Throughout the year he’s kept us all entertained via “Get The Drift” webcasts, even while we can’t make it out to traditional venues. Michael supports local music & musicians like very few others, and we are lucky to have him as part of our community.”

Dec 2019 Lisette and Justin perform at The Sweet Palette.

Singer TishMone and Author Shane Wilson both tagged singer-songwriter Lisette. She shared “Grateful for my cellist / partner in crime Justin Mackey, for helping me record and produce my acoustic EP. Grateful for The Arts Council for supporting the arts during a year where everything had to go virtual.”

Pre 2020 pic. LtoR: Devra Thomas, Ashanti Bennett, El’Ja Bowens. Photo credit: Monica Bowens

“Talent, passion for his craft, entrepreneurship, leadership, generosity in lifting others, and willingness to invest his time, talent, and energy into the community. Plus, a genuinely good guy.” Of course Sam Dubose is talking about El’Ja Bowens. He then spread the love around more: “For me, there are too damn many lol. But, let’s go with Neil Donnell Ray, Law Bullock, Yolanda A. Barnes, Ed Owens, and Ashanti Bennett. All dedicate themselves to their craft, community, and above all else they are willing to look past themselves to help the greater good.”

Shane also tagged painter Damien Mathis, who returned the love and then some: “Shane, he met me at a point in life where I didn’t understand a lot about how people view my art. As an author, he solidified a different viewpoint. Carter has gave me every opportunity without asking for anything in return…honest in his tomorrows. Metoya Scott has been very informative in what’s going on in the community and has a professional persona about the art world.”

Pre everything. Neil Ray and El’Ja Bowens at The Sweet Palette. Photo credit: Law Bullock

And almost everyone mentioned Neil Ray. As musician Shaun McNamee put it: “Can’t have this list without mentioning the great Dr Neil Donnell Ray. There wouldn’t be a local scene without him!” Neil replied, “It is so good to be honored by your peers! My respect and adoration of these artists and so many others is the true testimony of the talent we have in this area! I am grateful to all of them! They have helped me become better! Or at least get in the game!”

Keep the love going! Shoutout in the comments a local artist you’re grateful for this year!

Slow Fashion, Complex Art: Fiber Artist Kia Love

Kia Jones is a self-taught knitwear designer and fiber artist. She holds an AA degree in Graphic Design and Advertising as well as BFA in Interior Architecture and Design. In 2014, after practicing her craft for 14 years, she launched her brand Kia Love – a women’s knitwear and home decor brand. She specializes in fashionable accessories and home décor for the daring individual who loves bold color and texture. Her current custom collection emphasizes craftsmanship, feminine design and is dedicated to knitwear’s unbeatable comfort, to the way it follows the moves of the body and drapes around it. 

Kia is passionate about slow fashion, the healing powers of fiber arts and the importance of teaching hand crafts to the younger generation. Paypal Email: kialovecreative@gmail.com

Favorite Local Third Place: Myrover-Reese Thrift  Store

3 Things you can’t live without: My yarn, seltzer water and my liquid eyeliner.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Keith DeWayne, painter;  Samod Wilson, painter; Redyn, musician

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Meditation and bike riding.  Both are essential to my physical and mental well-being.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently experimenting with quilted clothing. I learned how to quilt a few years ago. Since, I have become obsessed with creating items that are aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? Me. I always try to outdo myself. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Experiment. Fail. Repeat. Knitwear design and textile art isn’t something that you’re good at overnight. It takes years to master your craft and to find your niche. Experiment with knitting, crochet, rug making and sewing. All these things are connected. Knowing a little about everything will ultimately make you a better artist.  

Editor’s Note Nov ’20: Important Questions

The dirty not-so-secret secret of the arts world is the forced ranking of artists and organizations: white artists and large, well-funded spaces/organizations are considered “world-class”; well-connected artists of color and organizations that have the resources (money, people) to play the game of grant writing and code-switch marketing are held in a second tier of regional recognition; and then the base of the pyramid, the iceberg under the ocean: the millions of individual artists of every color, orientation, gender, preference, and artistic genre who are creating meaningful art, either by themselves or with similar-minded people, hopefully for a small committed audience. Their numbers are legion; their accolades, few.

Going backwards through the last century, the NEA (as fabulous and necessary as state support of national art should be) fosters such rankings by their onerous grant approval process, made all the worse by political maneuverings in the 1990s over freedom of speech and artistic license. As fantastic as the non-profit idea is, it still is crafted under the oversight of toxic capitalism to mimic the roles, mechanisms, and output of for-profit companies. A brief moment during the Great Depression saw government willing to support a range of artistic voices across America, albeit predominantly anglo-saxon ones.

It boggles my mind that it is 2020, and with our copious resources of money, technology, connection, and education, artists are STILL being forced into rankings based on their level of these things.

Art is art. Human is human.

As our nation deals with a political system that is functioning the way it was intended to–to perpetuate the financial success and ruling power of a select few white people–the same questions of how to dismantle the system must be asked in the arts world. I include myself and the Color Of project in this. How am I contributing to the system? How can I contribute to its dismantling?

How can I contribute to something better? Something equal? Something that truly values all artistic expression?

“Richard Hamming was a mathematician at Bell Labs from the 1940’s through the 1970’s who liked to sit down with strangers in the company cafeteria and ask them about their fields of expertise.

At first, he would ask mainly about their day-to-day work, but eventually, he would turn the conversation toward the big, open questions—what were the most important unsolved problems in their profession? Why did those problems matter? What kinds of things would change when someone in the field finally broke through? What new potential would that unlock?After he’d gotten them excited and talking passionately, he would ask one final question: “So, why aren’t you working on that?””

http://rationalitydojo.com.au/resources/how-to-dojo/hamming-questions/

I think this trio–how am I contributing to the system as it is, how to dismantle, how to create something truly egalitarian–are the most important questions in the arts world currently. Everyone in this community needs to be working on them. If we believe in our own humanity and our shared world, we must find a way to stop restricting help and start living into the abundance that exists for all.

Art can change minds and hearts. If we make sure that all art is included.

Portraitist Melissa Greco on Music and Meditation

Melissa Greco is “a mom of 3 and wife of a soldier stationed here at Fort Bragg. I’m from California, but this is our second time here in North Carolina so it feels like home. I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t enthralled by art and have been drawing my surroundings for as long as I can remember. I remember asking my parents for a kiln for Christmas when I was 10. Over the years I have experimented with every medium I could get my hands on. These days I typically favor watercolor or chalk pastels. Portraits are my favorite, because I love the challenge of bringing a person to life. My decision to sell my art was fairly recent after family and friends begging me to do so for years.” Venmo @Melissa-Greco-11

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m a homebody so I don’t get out very often, especially since the spread of covid-19, but I do love visiting Rude Awakening for some coffee whenever I am downtown.

3 Things you can’t live without: I cannot live without coffee, my pastel pencils, and music. I often put my headphones on and get lost in a painting for hours. My playlist ranges from punk rock to classical music, depending on what I am working on.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Linda Draper of Apex is an amazing oil painter who specializes in pet portraits. As a dog lover myself, I enjoy seeing her capture the character of each pet.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I have started taking some time to myself every day to meditate since quarantine and I look forward to it so much that I plan to continue for as long as I see a benefit.

“Veronica” by Melissa Greco

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working on a multimedia commission that consists of a monochrome abstract portrait incorporated into a movie poster. I am having a ton of fun with it.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? My sister and my husband have always been supportive and encouraging when it comes to my art.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? My advice is to get out there and make art. Don’t wait until you’re “good enough to be a professional.” There is no such thing. Don’t compare your art to the art of others. We are all constantly learning on our own journey.

McCune International Art Gallery

From Legendary to Local, this gallery shows it all for Fayetteville

The David McCune International Art Gallery brings a continental ambience to Fayetteville, which fits nicely with all the visitors here from around the world doing a station at Fort Bragg. Access to the world-renowned visual art exhibits that travel to the McCune Gallery are helping modernize and glamourize the city.

The gallery “connects art and people while encouraging educational, creative experiences and human interactions,” writes Executive Director Silvana Foti. Exhibits since 2010 have included work by luminaries such as Chagall, Picasso, Rodin, and Warhol. Other exhibits feature artists with ties to Fayetteville or North Carolina, such as Lisa Stroud, Mison Kim, Victoria Pinney, Chris Hondros, and namesake artist David McCune.

Fayetteville artist “McCune is a nationally recognized metal wall art and sculpture artist with works displayed in homes, businesses, government facilities, colleges and universities across the country, and over twenty galleries. While he is well known for his metal sculpture, he also works in watercolors, acrylic, metal wall art, jewelry, and custom furniture.”

The gallery is housed within the William F. Bethune Center for Visual Arts and exists in the same vicinity as Huff Concert Hall, where the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra regularly performs. This corner of Methodist University is quite the highbrow art enclave within the great breadth of art available in the city.

Thanks to generous donors and the support of the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the exhibits are free for public viewing. Currently, free tickets for a timed entry must be acquired due to public health concerns.

It’s wonderful to have this art in our town, as well as easy access to other world-class museums like the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, Gregg Museum of Art & Design in Raleigh, the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, and the NC Museum of Art.

Fantastical Figures by Lauren Falls

Lauren Falls is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer specializing in realized portraits with fantastical motifs and elements. Lauren seeks to create abstract emotion as visualized experiences for viewers, using broad color schemes. If you would like to take a look at her work, visit her website laurenroseillustrations.com. You can buy prints of her work at etsy.com/shop/theartshingle. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @laurenroseillustrations.

Favorite Local Third Place: Lake Rim Park

3 Things you can’t live without: my sketchbook, a pencil, and my phone. I love to take photos for reference for  future illustrations while I am out and about.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: I am still really new to the area but I enjoy listening to Lisette.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Figure drawing. I have always enjoyed figure drawing and realized I have not been practicing as much as I used to.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Exploring more with my ink work. I have always enjoyed using ink alongside painting with watercolor in my illustrations.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My friends have always encouraged me to push myself outside of my own box.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Always keep practicing, set reasonable goals, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you to reach those goals.

Editor’s Note Oct 2020: On Celebrations

New beginnings in every season

Fall is the traditional start of celebration season with so many holidays happening in September, October, November, and December. Many of these celebrations serve to mark cycles: harvests, calendars, return of light, death and rebirth.

So it’s fair to take a moment at this change of seasons and mark what you’ve done artistically throughout the past season or so far this year. Celebratory parties may be smaller this year, but we can still celebrate our small and large accomplishments. Think back over the time since we started staying home. Write a list of what all you have done, that you’re proud of. Could be big things, could be small things.

My list (in addition to many things baby related) includes writing 12 articles for this blog, going for 3 mile-long walks each week, and reading 19 books, including 4 on race/social justice/history of fighting white supremacy.

Once you’ve written your list, feel that pride throughout your body! You did all that! Way to go you!

And remember, there’s still 3 more months left in this Gregorian calendar year! What have you learned from your accomplishments that you can apply to a goal for the remaining quarter that will help you end 2020 strong?

For me, my goals include writing 12 more articles for Color of Fayetteville (that’s 12 more artists or arts events or arts organizations to celebrate!), read another 8-12 books (including 3 more on fighting white supremacy), and finding small ways to reconnect with artists in person. And voting.

I’d love to hear one each of your accomplishments and Q4 goals! Share below so we can cheer you on.