Beaufort News

The Local Life: Words of affirmation are important for artistic process

'Awesome!" is a vestige of the 1980s that I still like to use. "Cool" is an affirming reaction, too, firm enough that no exclamation point is needed. "Bravo!" is the classic, the granddaddy of art appreciation. But I still haven't heard anyone but a Briton proclaim "Brilliant!" which has a nice way of acknowledging intellect.

I use "awesome," "cool" and "wow" in equal parts, and recently did so during a brainstorming session for a big public art project next year. (If you have an "expansion arts" idea, too -- make it a doozie -- be sure to attend the Coastal Community Foundation grant workshop at ARTworks on May 16. ) The poster for this month's Habitat for Humanity Birdhouse Plus auction is a piece of eloquent fine art combined with vintage Coca-Cola style messaging. The most exclamacious event around ihere is certainly the StreetMusic series supported by the Town of Port Royal. Those concertgoers go way past hurrahs and clapping, all the way to boogeying on the asphalt.

One of the insights I have learned as a teaching artist is responding with wonder and awe must be immediate and on the spot. Initial reaction is important to someone who's generating art -- "Wow. I like this blue dog character you're developing. Did you write this whole page just now?" That seems easy enough, but the trick is in the timing, because the opportunity can sneak by in a whole classroom of busy story writers or when you're hanging out at a festival full of friends and cold beverages.

The new Celadon Fine Arts Festival later this month is all about recognizing and celebrating the hard work of ("spectacular!") artists, not to mention the smart people who are putting it together ("huzzah!").

Twenty-seven artists from five states were juried in by ("wowsers!") Jonathan Green, Jon Goebel, Deanna Bowdish and Dennis Green; Pam Kessler is the judge; and $3,000 in awards is at stake.

The artists include Kathy Crowther, whose new series works past her Art Nouveau-inspired birds toward jewel-toned sea creatures ("magnificent!"), and Nancy Adams, who ("boy oh boy!") uses multiple gourds to create pieces in diorama form.

"People are surprised," Adams said, "to see what I have created as they think it is pottery and have only seen gourds as birdhouses."

Artist Teresa Overcash is traveling to Celadon from Charlotte, and I am already imagining one of her stained-glass pieces hanging in my picture window.

"I like glass on glass," she explained, "because it allows natural light to become part of my work. People are usually drawn to my work because it is so different, most people have never seen this process before. I create mosaics because it is my passion." A nice purr of "mmmm" seems to be the appropriate feedback to an artistic beam of sunlight.

Going from the light-filtering glass to something more opaque, we have table-maker Rex Hunter.

"I buy decadent wood," explained table-maker Rex Hunter, who is surely going for gasps with his ultra contemporary stylings. "I find pieces that are so attractive that I don't want to do too much. Specific figuring is desirable, when you look at it, the wood has movement. I find these pieces and they're so beautiful I can sit in the shop and look, and say, 'Tell me what to do.'"

"Fascinating," as Spock would say.