“Juke Joint” by Vertis Hayes in “Stony the Road We Trod”
Stony the Road We Trod: Reimagining Southern identity through the perspectives of African-American artists, “Stony the Road We Trod” reflects collective hardships and changes within a rapidly shifting culture. Curated by Shawnya L. Harris at the Georgia Museum of Art, the exhibition pulls from a range of time periods to portray the diversity of experiences. Borrowing its title from the lyrics of James Weldon Johnson’s anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the show shares works reflecting themes of migration and cultural heritage, and pivotal moments in history like the Harlem Renaissance and civil rights movement.
A variety of interesting materials appear in several of the works selected for the exhibition. Amalia Amaki’s dazzling “Twosome” is an assemblage of buttons, pearls, vintage botanical illustrations, photographs and other found objects. Inspired by the improvisational properties of jazz, Carl Christian often applied other materials onto the surface of his paintings, such as “Here Comes the Sun,” his portrait of Nina Simone wearing real lace. Self-taught artist Archie Byron created a paste from gunstock sawdust, glue and water to shape into textured artworks, a medium that physically echoes the grittiness of “Urban Living,” a dynamic scene ranging from children at play to a person being shot by a gun.
“Stony the Road We Trod” also highlights the work of South Carolina artist Leo Twiggs, who was selected as the 2019 Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award winner. After becoming the first African-American student to receive a doctoral degree in art education from the University of Georgia, he went on to create the fine-art degree program at South Carolina State University. Using the traditional African dyeing process of batik, he produces artwork that addresses the troubled history of the South, like the use of the Confederate flag.
Emily Hogrefe-Ribeiro, assistant curator of education, will lead a tour of “Stony the Road We Trod” on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, Apr. 28.
Hot Corner Mural: The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission has officially selected Dominican-born, Miami-based artist Elio Mercado to complete the upcoming Hot Corner Legacy Mural on an exterior wall of the historic Morton Theatre. Mercado was chosen through a blind selection process by a panel of local community members who have past or present ties to the Hot Corner after they reviewed over 40 design proposals submitted to the national call for artists. The mural, which has a $24,000 budget funded by the ACAC and the National Endowment for the Arts, will be unveiled during the annual Hot Corner Festival in June.
A self-taught figurative painter who also works under the pseudonym Evoca1, Mercado has over five years of experience in public art and mural projects. A play on the Spanish work “evocar,” meaning to evoke, his moniker speaks to his overall dedication towards igniting the public’s emotional consciousness and raising awareness about societal oppression and inequality. His photorealistic murals, which appear in Guam, Abu Dhabi and across South Florida, are expressive and powerful.
Calls for Public Art: Artists feeling inspired by the Hot Corner mural may take interest in two other upcoming opportunities. The ACAC is currently seeking professional proposals and images for two separate public art projects at new facilities being constructed at the corner of Cleveland Road and Callaway Drive: one at the Cooperative Extension Service Building, and one at the Fire Station 2. The deadline to apply is Friday, Mar. 15, and descriptions of the specific sites and general criteria for the artwork can be found at athensculturalaffairs.org/callsforartists.
Art Walk: In addition to the aforementioned calls for public art, the ACAC is seeking feedback from the community on its SPLOST 2020 project proposal to create a Jackson Street Art Walk. Developed between Hoyt and Dougherty Streets downtown, the proposed project is envisioned to be a pedestrian-oriented promenade showcasing permanent and temporary public artworks. Comments can be submitted online through Friday Mar. 3, and more information can be read at accgov.com/8593/70-jackson-street-art-walk.
AthFest Theme Artist: Flagpole’s own Anna LeBer has been selected as the 2019 theme artist by AthFest Educates, the local nonprofit dedicated to funding music and arts education programs for youth, for its annual AthFest Music and Arts Festival and AthHalf Half Marathon and 5K. In an effort to showcase the town’s creative talent, a committee chooses a different artist each year whose designs decorate T-shirts, advertisements, websites, banners, billboards and and merchandise.
An Atlanta native, LeBer earned a BFA in painting at the Lamar Dodd School of Art and later branched into graphic design. In addition to working as an ad designer at Flagpole, where she also created the unicorn theme for this year’s Flagpole Athens Favorites contest, LeBer sells artwork at Atomic Athens. Her designs for AthFest, which will be held June 21–23, will be previewed through social media in the next month.