Community of Artists Inspires New Works
By Justin Lacy, StarNews Correspondent
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Artists Stano Buban (l) and Sergej Andreevski (r), both from Macedonia, high five in excitement.
Photo by Brianna Elliott
What: No Boundaries International Art Colony's 2012 exhibition. Featuring work by Sergej Andreevski, Shawn Best, Shannon Rayle Bourne, Stanislav Buban, Michelle Connolly, Bonnie England, Stephanie Hagens, Chad Harrell, Evalyn Boyd Hines, Fritzi Huber, Courtney Johnson, Eva Mayer, G.Scott Queen, Colleen Ringrose, Pam Toll, Gayle Tustin and Glenn Ziemke
Where: Acme Art Studios, 711 N. Fifth Ave., Wilmington
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17
Tickets: Free; some work will be for sale
Details: 352-4314, 443-8253 or www.NBIAC.org
Chad Harrell was in a bit of a slump. Ever since the young artist graduated from the art program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in May, he hadn't found much time to make art.
"I just haven't done anything since my senior show," Harrell said in his relaxed, monotone way of talking. (When a photographer tried to get him to pose for a picture, he claimed to be physically incapable of smiling.)
"I've probably just done two paintings and drawings every once in a while," he said, "nothing too serious."
But on Nov. 2, Harrell had the opportunity to take off work and stay at the No Boundaries International Art Colony on Bald Head Island. Every other year, No Boundaries brings international, national, regional and local artists to Bald Head for two weeks of sharing communal meals, soaking up nature and creating art, uninterrupted. (Every other year, it's a local/regional colony.) The fruits of the artists' labors from this year's colony will be displayed at Acme Art Studios on Saturday.
For Harrell, being around the artists in the colony changed everything.
"In the last five days I've done two paintings and lots and lots of drawings," Harrell said. "It's just a good experience."
I visited the arts colony on a cold and rainy Election Day Tuesday, so the artists weren't working outside but inside, easels up, warming up. In Charlie's Cabin No. 2, plastic covered the floor of every room, and loud funk music was playing. The funk was Harrell's doing; he stayed in the cabin with this year's international artists, Sergej Andreevski from Macedonia, and Stanislav "Stano" Buban and Eva Mayer from Slovakia.
This is Mayer's first trip to the United States. She has become fascinated with the legendary Captain Charlie of Bald Head Island, spending most of her time researching the famed lighthouse keeper for an installation that will be on display at Acme.
This is also Buban's first trip to No Boundaries, but the Slovakian painter and arts educator has visited many other art colonies in Europe.
As for Andreevski, he feels like No Boundaries is his art colony. He's been here five times and is close friends with many of the Wilmington artists. In 2011, No Boundaries co-founder and UNCW art instructor Pam Toll took a group of students, including Harrell, to Macedonia to visit Andreevski. Andreevski and Harrell are now the best of friends.
On the oceanfront back porch of cabin two, Andreevski and Buban showed off the paintings they finished that day. Buban completed a large-scale figurative painting titled "Intimacy," featuring a man holding up a female before a dark, maroon background. Andreevski also finished a figurative work, his character drawn in minimalist patches of vivid color. The bright greens, yellows and blues of Andreevski's work clashed with the dark gray sky as it poured rain into the choppy Atlantic, but for Andreevski, this view is what makes No Boundaries stand out among other international art colonies, even on stormy occasions.
"The view is very powerful," Andreevski said. "For us artists, it really is something very special."
It seems to be the environment that makes the art colony special for the artists. The island offers rare opportunities to view nature in action – one day the artists were swimming with dolphins, two days later they found two dead sharks on the beach. But the colony also offers a creative environment to help artists grow.
"Last year was my first full week," Wilmington artist Catherine Lea said. "It really pulled me out of the funk I had been in. I just got so inspired by all these people. I went back and just worked, worked, worked, worked. I sort of depend on these people to keep me working. And once again they brought me out of my depression and back into the creative. We get into little funks every once in a while, and so now I'm re-energized. I had my battery re-charged on Bald Head Island."
Lea normally goes outside to paint landscapes, but due to the rain, she was inside cabin three, painting from a photograph in a room shared with local installation artist Leslie Pearson.
"It's just great being around other artists," Lea said. "It just gets you stimulated."
"Making art is such an isolated endeavor," she said. "When you work alone in a studio you sort of get myopic, and you have a tendency to get into your own mind. When you come out here you can kind of visualize art through someone else's mind, and they look at things differently, and that makes you start to see things differently too. I think it's interesting that you can come here with a preconceived notion of what you will be working on, but then your work becomes more and more defined by your environment."