Artist Cassandra Gillens to host annual B.J.'s Juke Joint sale at ARTworks

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comNovember 23, 2012 

One of Cassandra Gillens' "B.J.'s Juke Joint" paintings.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Cassandra Gillens' eighth annual Holiday Sale, inspired by her "B.J.'s Juke Joint" series, is from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 24 at ARTworks.

    Details: 843-379-2787, www.artworksInbeaufort.org

B.J.'s Juke Joint is tucked away off a country road. It's just an unassuming shack, what some might call a hole-in-the-wall.

But inside, once the band gets started, it's laughter and dancing, good food and drink.

At least, that's what it is in artist Cassandra Gillens' mind.

Although B.J.'s itself is fictional (named after her husband, Benjamin), the Beaufort artist's annual holiday sale Nov. 24 at ARTworks is inspired by her series of paintings about the juke joints that populate the Southeast.

Gillens, a self-taught artist, is originally from the Boston area. But since moving to Beaufort about 20 years ago, she's made a name for her paintings that show Southern black or Gullah culture.

Her work was featured in the 2008 movie "Nights in Rodanthe." And a painting of hers also will be in this year's HGTV "Dream Home," a multi-million dollar house on Kiawah Island the network will give away in a sweepstakes.

Gillens explains how her juke joint came to life.

Question. For those who don't know, what is a juke joint?

Answer. It's like a hole in the wall. It's a place you'd find out in the woods, maybe more back in the day than these days. They'd call it a juke joint and have a little house party. ... I've been working on this series for a few months.

Q. You're from Boston originally. How did you come across Beaufort?

A. I came back and forth as a little kid. I came back for good 20 years ago. I came out of Key West, on my way back to Boston.

My father's from Beaufort. He said "You know how expensive it is (in Boston)? Just go to Beaufort."

Q. How did you get into painting?

A. I always had a gift. In kindergarten they wanted to put me in an art school. But I grew up, had children and started painting again just for myself. When I met Benjamin, he started seeing how we could market this.

Q. How did your style come about?

A. It comes largely from not knowing exactly how to paint. I feel like if I went to school I wouldn't have developed this style. It's gotten much better. When I first started, I'd forget the feet and hands on people. Then I had issues with fingers. I'd have to count the fingers. Benjamin would say, "Hey, you've got six fingers on this guy (laughs)." I still count the fingers.

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