Drawing Marathon generates new Upstairs exhibit

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, September 21, 2014

The quiet was surprising and, apart from the results, the most notable element of the “A Place at the Table” drawing marathon held in the lower level of the Upstairs Artspace this past Saturday.

Thirteen invited artists, each lost in his or her own vision, created pieces during the five-hour marathon that could or should have demonstrated new insights or techniques just by virtue of the venue in which they were created. The results will be shown in a three-week exhibit beginning Tuesday, Sept. 16 and running until Friday, Oct. 3.

Barbara Rehg, a mixed-media artist whose “Woven Earth” exhibit at the Upstairs closed this past Friday, was the organizing force behind the marathon, which she also helped organize in Atlanta.

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“This is an opportunity to work in an unfamiliar environment, to open new wells of creativity through the experience,” she told the assembled artists. “When we did this in Atlanta, we were thrilled with the results, individually and collectively.” The result of the Atlanta marathon, part of the past month’s “Drawing Marathon” exhibit, still hung on the gallery walls around her as inspiration.

This brief introduction from Rehg, which had the effect of “on your mark, get set, go!” order, sent the artists off to their chosen spots amid the paint-speckled canvases covering the floor—some at tables, some working on the wall—and the fun began. Each had brought supplies—paper, pens, charcoal pencils, lunch and their individual talent. It was a scene to make even those with mere stick-figure capability want to pick up a crayon and play. But, as evidenced by the Atlanta examples, this was not an exercise for the feint of talent.

“I was surprised at how quiet it was,” said artist Sofia Dow. “I thought there might be more back and forth, sharing techniques and just chatting.” Despite the expectation of interaction, Dow said the quiet solitude while working in a group of other artists was energizing and made for a productive as well as fun experience.

Artists participating in the first weekend marathon included: Jessica Barnes; Margaret Curtis; Sofia Dow; Pat Ferullo; Paul Flint; Ursula Gullow; Werner Haker; Linda Hudgins; Carol Beth Icard; Dale McEntire; Barbara Rehg; Doris Turner; and Paul Yanko.

A second marathon will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, with those works added to the second week of the “A Place at the Table” exhibit. Participating in the second weekend’s marathon are: Sofia Dow; Pat Ferullo; Diana Gurr; Werner Haker; Linda Hudgins; Carol Beth Icard; Dale McEntire; Lindsey Moore; Janet Orselli; Bob Neely; and Amy Goldstein-Rice.

“A Place at the Table” will open, Tuesday, Sept. 16 and run through Friday, Oct. 3. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The closing reception, a chance to meet the participating artists, will be held on Friday, Oct. 3 from 5 – 7:30 p.m.

The Upstairs Artspace is a non-profit art gallery whose mission is to develop an understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and craft forms through exhibits, programs and educational activities that enrich the cultural life of the region. Its free programs are made possible through the support of the Polk County Community Foundation, the North Carolina Council of the Arts and the generous support of its members. The gallery is located at 49 South Trade St. For additional information, call 828-859-2828.


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by Clare O’Sheel