Fusing Work, Play, and Family: Metal Sculptor James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez, a metal sculptor, possesses a steady hand, a keen eye for detail, and a relentless drive to succeed. James has already created some amazing sculptures. He draws his inspiration from his life experiences, family, friends, and his military background. Deployed to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, he now finds sculpting to be his therapy and a way to express himself in ways he’s normally unable to. By trade, James is a certified welder, with three years experience running his own welding & metal fabrication business, Vulcan Metal Works. He has been mentored by sculpting professor, and local metal artist, Adam Walls of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. 

Still early in his sculpting career, James has dedicated himself full time to creating his next masterpiece, using symbolism you can truly understand, and relate to, in his work. 

Thing making your life richer & why: Working on metal sculptures has definitely made my life richer. I find a different type of inner peace when I’m creating. The response I get from people the first time they see my work is warming to the soul; just knowing I was able to create a lasting impression through my art is an unbelievable feeling. Most importantly, though, is being able to physically show people what is truly in my heart, having a way to express myself in ways I’ve never been able to before.

Local artist you admire: Adam Walls is a local metal sculptor that was a mentor for me when I first started thinking about making a transition into art. He told me if I put as much effort into my art as I did my welding/metal-fabrication business then I wouldn’t have a problem at all. I listened. He’s an amazing local artist, one that I look up to a lot.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I’m actually venturing into the world of clay sculpting and pottery. Working with clay is therapeutic in itself, and being able to sculpt in clay will definitely help me further down the road in my metal sculpting career. Being able to create a small scale reference of a larger statue is perfect for scaling and visual references.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? A LOT changed in my practice in 2020. I transitioned my business from general welding/metal-fabrication to creating works of art. It was terrifying at first. Being colorblind I never thought I would be the artistic type, until I started welding.

Protective Father & Child 
This piece was made for my daughter. It represents a rusted old father that is trying to protect his untouched child from the dangers of the outside world. Spikes on the back provide protection while still maintaining a soft frontside where the child is. His whole purpose now is to pass on knowledge and love the child unconditionally. With open access to a mended heart, the child is the only one that has unrestricted access, and it remains guarded from the rest of the world. He will protect his child until it is able to protect itself.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I practice my art right in the garage at my house. Some people call it messy, I call it organized chaos. I’m surrounded by family all the time, and friends stop by on a  regular basis just to see what I’m working on next! I wouldn’t have it any other way! After all, they’re where I draw my inspiration to create.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? Honestly, I’m constantly lost in thought thinking about my next piece. The ideas come at the most random times! It could be anything from a song on the radio, a relationship, a conversation, or random architecture. I’m always open minded and looking for inspiration on a daily basis. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. Chase your dream, no matter what! If you think you can create, you want to create, then you can! Stop thinking and do. If you wait for the perfect opportunity you will surely miss it! There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing something no one else can, then creating it so they can appreciate your vision with you.

Plants, Animals, and Public Affairs: Painter Paloma Perez Bradford

I am from Los Angeles, California. Growing up, I spent most of my days swimming and surfing at the beach. In elementary school, I was immersed in natural science, which became pivotal to my relationship with nature. I studied illustration and received my BFA in Communication Arts from Otis College of Art & Design in L.A. After graduation, I taught after-school art classes in Manhattan Beach, until I decided to enlist in the U.S. Army as a Multimedia Illustrator in 2019. I found this to be an amazing opportunity to serve my country and further my education. I graduated with honors from the Defense Information School on Fort George G Meade, Maryland in 2021 as a qualified Public Affairs Specialist with a certificate in Graphic Design. 

I met my husband in the Army while we were both attending school for public affairs. In 2021, we moved near Fort Bragg and create art together.

Perez Bradford working on an oil painting

3 things making my life richer & why:

My husband makes my life richer because he helps motivate me to put my art out into the world. There are times when I feel self doubt, however my husband is the one who encourages me to keep going and keep making art even when I feel like it’s not good enough. I think it is important to be able to lean on someone in your life when you need emotional support. 

Spirituality makes my life richer because it helps soften the blows that life throws at me and  reminds me that I am part of a bigger plan. 

Art enriches my life because it gives me purpose. It is therapeutic as well. I enjoy working everyday to better my skill as an artist and it is so rewarding when I see how my work has improved throughout the years. 

Local Artist I admire: I just moved to North Carolina in May, so I haven’t met many local artists yet, but one artist in Wilmington who I admire is Kelsey Howard. I came across her page on Instagram and fell in love with her artwork. I admire her loose style and color choices. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I wouldn’t call it too much of an experiment, but lately I have been painting a wash of fluorescent red or orange paint under some of my paintings. Not sure if it is making much of a difference, but I enjoy doing it. 

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? In 2020, I changed up the materials that I use. Up until then, I was using a lot of watercolor and gouache. I decided to try oil painting and get into drawing more with colored pencils. The change in mediums was beneficial for me and I will continue to use these new mediums in more of my future work.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space: Right now, my art practice takes place in the living room of our one-bedroom apartment. I have an easel and art cart set up near the sliding glass door so I can work near ample sunlight and ventilation. 

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? Subject matter is sometimes a struggle for me. What I find most pleasing to paint and draw is plants. However, recently, I went back home to Los Angeles to visit my parents and took lots of pictures of our family’s cat. I am currently using the cat as the muse for my current collection of works to come. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre: Hone your skills by practicing frequently, and do not get tied down to each piece of work you produce. As you keep producing work and getting better, it will be easier to accept that older work as learning milestones. 

Roxanne Rothenberger Embodies Determination in Painting, Work, and Home

photo credit Jenifer Fennell photography

Roxanne Rothenberger was born in 1980 and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a girl, she was heavily influenced by the Chicano-Art movement of the early 90’s. Finding constant inspiration in it’s alluring mix of aesthetic value and cultural representation. Her first exposure to traditional drawing and painting techniques came at the hands of the US Army, where she served 8 years in a lesser known MOS of 25M, or Multimedia Illustration. She continued her education with an AOS in Computer Animation but found that the digital art world did not satisfy her need to be a tangible artist. Seeking a more tactile expression, she soon found herself concentrating on painting. In 2016 Roxanne took over as studio manager at Wine & Design, Fayetteville and her painting blossomed into a productive commissioned art business. 

Roxanne builds her work through continuous study of the human form and her subject’s emotional environment. Seeking to place her figures in an state of their own creation, Roxanne relies heavily on interview and intuition. When working on commissioned portraits, she strives to capture her subject’s warmth as well as aesthetic qualities. Working in both oil and acrylic paint, she tries to harness each medium’s specific merits to evoke excitement from the viewer. An underlying current of movement can be found in most of her work and it is intended to both intrigue and unbalance the viewer.

Roxanne currently teaches oil painting and drawing at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Additionally, she is available for commission work.

Three things you cannot live without & why: 

  • God’s grace and a pocket sized Bible. I find I need to reference it daily…trying to be a better person. It is a journey, and I am not anywhere near done. 
  • At least one audiobook and a few library books. I listen to the audiobooks while I work and enjoy the physical books whenever I get moments to myself.
  • My broken yoga practice. I am relatively new to it (only practicing a year) and I know enough to know that I know NOTHING! The act of turning my focus into my body helps me to compartmentalize and focus. 

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Tiffany Ragin is a local artist who also does figurative painting. I find joy in her work, her use of color is explosive and invigorating. Additionally, her paintings explore femininity and faith, two things that are not easily discussed together. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently working on a body of work that combines byzantine religious iconography and realism with modern symbolism. 

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? In 2020 I was commissioned to paint quite a few memorial paintings. Portraits of loved ones that have passed on. I found so much peace and solace in working on those portraits. I’m hoping to do more of them, I am extremely honored when somebody asks me to memorialize love one.

photo credit Jenifer Fennell photography

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. My studio is a room right off the kitchen. I work in spurts, as I am a wife and mother of two young children. I only have 20 to 30 minutes at a time to get work done. My current piece is in my line of sight all day long, I walk by it and look at it and make decisions while I’m vacuuming, doing dishes, making food etc. And then when I finally have a moment to paint, I don’t waste any time. Because I’ve spent all day making plans on what I’m going to do. By doing this, I find that the 30 minutes that I get in front of the canvas, is extremely productive.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I get inspired by looking at other peoples work and art history. I enjoy learning the historical background of a particular piece. I am intrigued by the context of a painting, the political and cultural state that painting was created in. To me, a painting is a mirror of the time and place it was created in. I find so much inspiration from artists who have come before me. 

Advice to newer artists in your genre: My advice to newer artists is to trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to fail. There is so much learned when you make mistakes. You have to paint the bad paintings and draw the horrible drawings. It is that work that will make you a great artist. Keep pushing through, keep painting. Every time you make a mistake, you learn something! It’s not about creating one amazing painting; it’s about creating 30 mediocre pieces, to hone your abilities, then using all that you have learned through trial and error to finally create real beauty. The piece that you create after all that will be infinitely more powerful and insightful, because you will have earned it.

Also, to let go of your ego. Nothing will keep you stuck in a rut and unable to grow as an artist, more than your ego.

Painter Angela Stout Expresses All the Emotions

Painter-Sculptor Angela Stout

Angela M. Stout is a contemporary Painter, Printmaker, Photographer, and Sculptor living in Broadway, North Carolina. Angela is a disabled veteran originally from Warren, Ohio. She is a member of Cape Fear Studios and teaches art classes to the public. She is a graduate of Fayetteville State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Arts. Angela exhibits frequently in group exhibitions and competitions locally, nationally, and internationally.

3 Things you can’t live without & why: I cannot live without my family. They are my constant source of love and inspiration. I cannot live without my laptop because I use it to ideate and create my references using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I cannot live without my workspace as it is my place of quiet retreat and the hub of my creativity.

Local artist (any genre, Cumberland County preferred) you admire: Professor Soni Martin is an amazing generalist and my mentor. She is a major inspiration for my journey to be an art educator. She has an amazing work ethic and teaching style. I am enamored by her artwork.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently exploring overlaying my portrait images with abstract textures. I use a mixture of achromatic with chromatic colors to create an emotion. My purpose in my art is to evoke a feeling in every medium I do.

work in progress in studio

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? I focused more on the mental effects that were caused by Covid 19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and my own personal losses I experienced in 2020. My art went to a darker place when I felt compelled to create. I will continue to explore societal issues and the emotions connected to it going forward, but maybe not from such a dark place.

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. My workspace is a converted bedroom. I have four easels, a small printing press I made, a sculpting table, and storage for all of my canvases. I have my paint accessible on a rolling cart. I am a disabled vet, so I have difficulty standing to paint. I sit down on the floor and brace my arms on my knees so I can paint vertically without my muscles becoming fatigued and shaking.

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I am always taking pictures of people. I begin with an emotion or idea I want to express. I search through my archive of photo references until I see a person who speaks to me. I open Adobe Illustrator and begin sketching. I start overlaying the textures until something begins to emerge that guides the direction. I move with in the process until I see the potential in a piece.

Advice to newer artists in your genre: As artists we are always putting pressure on ourselves to be original, develop a style, and to make technically great work. We can be harder on ourselves than anyone else. My advice to younger artists is to not look at failure to achieve your vision as a negative. I have learned far
more from my failures then my successes. Another sage bit of advice is to be flexible and not hold on to the original concept with a death grip. Instead remain fluid while you are going through the process of creating and allow yourself to change direction if you see a new possibility.

“Minor Mood”, Major Chops: The All American Jazz Collective

Imagine eating lunch under the shade of an old oak tree, the mellow sounds of John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk wafting around you from a quintet sitting adjacent in the park. How melodious. How cosmopolitan. How All American.

Well, I have news for you: You can do just such a thing on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) every other Friday this coming fall when the All American Jazz Collective starts playing again. This loose quintet–sometimes a quartet, sometimes a sextet or more–plays on campus as well as various community gathering places around Fayetteville.

Jazz has a long history in the state. Coltrane hailed from High Point, Monk from Rocky Mount. Nina Simone is from Tryon, Billy Strayhorn spent formative years in Hillsborough. The NC Arts Council maintains a trail through eastern North Carolina dedicated to these luminaries and their stories. Perhaps we can get Fayetteville on the map: trumpeter Waymon Reed is from here. So the All American Jazz Collective is carrying on a proud North Carolinian tradition.

All American Jazz Collective
One lineup of the AAJC, Pappas far left, Carey in middle. Photo courtesy Anthony Russell.

AAJC started performing together in the fall of 2017. Co-founder Daniel Pappas mused, “Fayetteville had lots of R&B or Smooth jazz, even some fusion, but we wanted to do traditional jazz music.” Pappas moved here five years ago to teach and now runs the music department at FTCC. Jazz wasn’t his main musical focus before teaching at FTCC. “I felt I could speak about it better if I played it,” he chuckled. And with the wide spectrum of jazz styles, musicians, and songs to choose from, there is always something to play or to improvise around.

Jenne Carey, also a recent transplant to Fayetteville, and vocal instructor with FTCC, sings with AAJC. Jazz isn’t her background either–she’s a classically trained opera singer–but she jumped at the chance to grow her skills and range. “Ellington, Gershwin: these composers fused jazz with classical,” she enthused. The other members of the Collective vary from performance to performance. The March 2019 lineup at Holy Trinity included Jay Locklear on piano, Landon Oliver on organ, Anthony Russell on drums, and Willie Lockett (who is a former 82nd Airborne Bandmaster) on bass.

In addition to private functions, the AAJC has played at the opening of the Hope Mills Lake and with Sweet Tea Shakespeare. “I wish there was a jazz club here,” Pappas said. Hence the Friday Jazz Lunches and other community performances. Perhaps the new Jazzio’s restaurant on Bragg Blvd might be interested in the group to perform…

AAJC is an exciting contribution to the Fayetteville music scene. Pappas mentioned he was particularly enthusiastic about the Cape Fear New Music Festival, held at Methodist University in the Spring. Both Methodist and Fayetteville State University have strong music programs, including jazz studies. All these musical connections between educational establishments, bands, and individuals will make our city sound that much more rhythmic.

The Creative Frenzy: An Arts + Crafts Playground on Yadkin Rd

Addrienne VanOver, owner of The Creative Frenzy on Yadkin Road, glanced around the shop, smiling as she said, “There’s so much more I want to do, too.” It’s hard to believe there’s more, as VanOver currently runs the shop, does custom design work for private clients, leads private and group crafting workshops, and teaches both one-on-one in her store and at Fayetteville Technical Community College (and is a mama of three and married for almost twenty years!).

She opened The Creative Frenzy in August 2018 and moved into the current location at 4760 Yadkin Road (near the corner of Yadkin and Skibo) in March of 2019. It’s a bit like an arts & crafts playground. You can bring your own toys–er, arts and crafts supplies–and work on your project in the company of others. Or you can buy or borrow from the shop. “Anything you see on Pinterest, we can do here,” Addrienne quips. There’s supplies for paper-crafting, painting, embroidery, making wood signs, printing t-shirts, even a photo studio set up for product or people shoots. And at $25-35 per hour for most workshops or instruction, it’s affordable to try everything.

Group workshops are the current shop specialty. In addition to her general craft workshops, there are also events geared towards veterans and for homeschoolers. There’s even a quilting club who meets at the shop every Monday! “We also have a free kids story time–it’s always on Saturday but varies through the month–and book club on the last Sunday of every month,” Addrienne said. “They both have crafts involved and everyone is welcome to come.” She did say the kids’ storytime tends to fill up, so get there early!

Addrienne also does custom design work and sells her original embroidery designs through her website. “I want other crafters to use the shop as a place to start their own Etsy stores,” she expressed. And since she often brings her own kids to the shop, kids are more than welcomed: they are encouraged to come and craft, too! Oh, and did I mention you can rent the shop for birthday parties? Eight kid minimum and an amazing craft to take home after!

image via The Creative Frenzy Facebook page

Check out her website, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up for the email list to find out about ALL Addrienne has going on! She’s also looking for other crafty teachers, so if you have friends asking “how do you do that?,” maybe it’s time for you to teach it!