Gifts from the studios: resident artists, yarn bombs, Doctuh Buzzard, and BJ's Juke Joint @ ARTworks

For the next few months, two studios at ARTworks are becoming art that you can walk into— short term installations of color and fun built by two teams of artists. On a daily basis, the studios @ ARTworks are filled with tables and artwork-under-construction and good lighting, while four resident artists create with the doors wide open so all can see and learn. They are primarily painters: USCB student Omar O’Malley, Lil Simpson, Jean Norton-Torjussen, and Dennis Wilkins, who has also appeared in recent productions in ARTworks’ black box theater.

“I find it very comforting to have a studio here,” Dennis said. “We make up a very eclectic mix of art here, to fill any orphan wall. I learn from my neighbor-artists. My style is all over the place, mixed media and all media. Jean paints in watercolors and inks, and I feed on her process. Collectors and gift-givers should use ARTworks as a source, including all the classes and events.”

The two special installations are the projects of Bernice & Andy Tate, and Deanna Bowdish with Wendy & Terry Brennan.

“Doctuh Buzzard’s Rootworks” is the creation of Bernice and Andy Tate, an emporium of homespun Gullah goods.

“It is first and foremost a material culture, historic, fine craft installation,” explained Bernice, “it is a personal acknowledgment of authentic African-American Gullah-GeeChee Heritage.” That means gnarled blue roots and jugs of White Buzzard Goofer Dust and jars of Doctuh Buzzard’s Hoodoo Water, and Bernice’s collage series of quilt and Lowcountry themes.

Bernice Mitchell Tate, a Beaufort County native daughter, is noted for her sculptural collages that transform material culture into art. Bernice’s art style is Womanistic, traditional in a communal sense, and concerned very much with heritage. Her artwork is inspired by and based on design elements of nearly fifty years of hand sewn quilts created by her mother, the late Veronica Robinson-Mitchell. The process Bernice calls “fused continuity” involves the digitizing of selected design elements or entire quilts, and using these old images to make new collages.

Andy’s “Doctor Buzzard’s Hoodoo Series” of charm-objects conveys iconic metaphors associated with the legendary ‘Dr. Buzzard’ (1885–1947, also known as Stephney Robinson) of St. Helena Island, arguably the greatest conjurer root worker and healer of all time. He designed all the evocative labels for the bottles— St. Helena Hex Oil, Gullah Jack Jinx Oil. His imagery and vocabulary create modern images that mirror the past. He creates authentic reproduction 17th, 18th and 19th Century American historical slavery broadside posters and other historical documents to portray a sense of missing African-American spiritual and political identity. His interest in Hoodoo, also known as rootwork and conjure, is through the African-American traditions of folk spiritualism, especially in the Lowcountry.

“String Theory, a slight twist on the holidays” is the installation of Deanna Bowdish, who owns The Gallery on Bay Street, and Wendy and Terry Brennan. Terry just sold a flock of his big game animal-assemblages to Ripley’s. Their installation will twistily-transform over the next two months– the artists are unfurling countless yards of yarn, changing the boxy space into a crazy dream-catcher that you walk through.

“Installation + creation = fascination,” said Deanna. “Inside, we have original, one-of-a-kind holiday creations perfect for finding a little something for everyone on your list. Give the gift of original art that won’t hurt the budget.”

One visitor suggested: “Take a load off and lay down, stare up into the installation, it’s important to look at the world from a different point of view and this experience will take you to another realm of fun and play”. Keep stopping back to see this live-and-happening installation that will continue to grow and expand throughout the holiday season, Tuesdays-Saturdays and during special holiday events— such as BJ’s Juke Joint, which is Cassandra Gillens’ 8th Annual Holiday Sale. It’s party with the artist for collectors of all levels, 4 to 8pm on Saturday, November 24, 2012~ one day only! This reception is free and open to the public.

ARTworks is accepting applications from artists who are interested in a dedicated, affordable studio in order to thrive, grow, take risks and make daring choices.

ARTworks is the community arts center of Beaufort, the coolest arts council in the Carolinas, and applies the many creative tools of The Arts to strengthen artists, and enrich audiences, collectors, and visitors through high quality arts experiences and arts education programs 365 days a year., 843-379-2787, @artseensc, 2127 Boundary Street 29902 in Beaufort Town Center.