October 14, 2013

TINY art makes a big splash


 The Indian Town Gallery was crowded with people this past Saturday evening as guests mingled amidst the vast and diverse catalog of artwork displayed throughout store. 

At first glance, the event appeared to be a typical art exhibit, but it was far more unique in that 71 small works of art captured the attention of those present.  To be precise, each piece was a mere 5-by-5 inches.

TINY, the aptly named exhibit, was held Oct. 10-13 and benefited the Wayne Fulcher Visual Art Education Fund, which will help local high school students continue and further their art education either privately or through classes at the College of the Albemarle. 

April Trueblood, gallery employee and event creator and organizer, drew inspiration for the event from her days as an art student at East Carolina University.

“Years ago when I was enrolled at East Carolina University, someone had hung up a bunch of really tiny pieces at the Percolator Coffee House in the hope of making some extra money,” said Trueblood.  “And recently when I was just following memories, I went back to that time when I saw them in the coffee shop and thought of how much I loved them.”

Trueblood believed that folks in the community would enjoy the idea of miniature art, as well, and hoped that the event would inspire both artists and non-artists throughout the area to be involved.

“I thought that this was something that anyone in the community could do and that it was a way to bring people together,” said Trueblood.

Together, Trueblood and gallery owner Anne Bowers cultivated the vision of a community-involved art exhibit and asked folks to donate their time and creativity towards creating a tiny original piece of art for the collection.

After buying 60 canvases, Bowers and Trueblood reached out to local established artists, high school art students, and the general public, via Facebook, to invite them to get involved and support their cause.

The community response was overwhelmingly positive and within three days of announcing the upcoming exhibit, all of the canvases had been requested. 

By the time the exhibit opened, a total of 64 different artists, using a range of mediums, participated in the exhibit, including 14 high school students, a couple from outside of North Carolina, and, on a brief reprieve from retirement, Fulcher.  Paint, fabric, photos, seashells, and a variety of other materials were used while creating the many beautiful pieces that decked the walls of the gallery. 

Amy Howard of Ocracoke works at the Preservation Society Museum and does not identify as an artist, but Howard craftily used old copper flashing from the roof of the museum to create the jumping fish featured on her acrylic painting.

“You don’t have to be a picture artist or painter to create a piece for the exhibit,” noted Howard.  “It’s fun and it’s all for a good cause.”

Other artists, such as Jen Ray, the owner of The Space Between coffee shop, used a similar approach by repurposing and reusing materials from past artworks and creative endeavors, whereas Mariah Temple, a 7-year old from Ocracoke, created her piece with colored foam sheets, glue, and a collage made specifically for the event.

Regardless of what materials or methods were used to create the TINY collection, the event successfully brought the people together in support of a worthy cause.

Each work of art was sold for $20, and since 67 of the pieces were scooped up, the education fund is well on its way to supporting and promoting the youth of the community along their artistic path.

And the event was only the first of many intended to support the Wayne Fulcher Visual Art Education Fund.  Trueblood and Bowers plan to continue raising funds for the scholarship program with raffles, a silent auction, and, of course, future TINY exhibits.

“We’re still new to this, but the cause is near and dear to us,” said Bowers.  “This (the scholarship) will be a continual thing. It won’t be just one award.”

The scholarship fund was started by Bowers this past spring and will begin awarding scholarships in 2014. 

“There are so many talented students here on the island and the College of the Albemarle has such a tremendous amount of classes available on so many different mediums,” said Bowers.  “A lot of the students really enjoy living here and, often, a more local experience is beneficial.” 

The scholarship will be available to students in secondary school, regardless of grade level, and may be used to purchase art materials or to enroll in art courses.  Bowers hopes that the fund will encourage the local youth to pursue art as well as honor local artist and the fund’s namesake, Wayne Fulcher.

Fulcher retired several years ago, but is a world-renowned artist who resides in Frisco and remains a highly respected and important figure in the local art community. 

“Fulcher is a Hatteras boy, and he painted here in the gallery for 11 years,” said Bowers in regard to his role with the fund.  “We wanted to keep his memory going and keep his name alive.  And on top of that, he loves children and wants them to continue to come in to do art and to support the arts.”


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