Play Parade: The Origins of Greatness

By on 20 October, 2014 in Art, Fun, Kate and Stephen with 1 Comment
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Artists LG Waldo, Kellie Newsome and Winfred Hawkins (from left)

Starting this weekend, there’s some art on display at Alabama State that will knock your socks off.

The Play Parade show, featuring the work of three of the most important young local artists (Kellie Newsome, Winfred Hawkins and LG Waldo), starts this weekend and runs through the first week of November. It’s a free showcase of emerging Montgomery talent and it is by turns inspiring and unsettling – before we go on, just go ahead and mark your calendars to stop by the Tullibody Gallery (915 Jackson St.) sometime before November 7. If at all possible, you’ll want to attend the reception on Saturday (October 25) from 5 p.m. until 8.

Cities need art. We require not just the familiar decorative arts that make us comfortable with their stable subjects and comforting tones, but art that pushes us to think further and more deeply about a whole range of things we’d might not have considered before. Like all cities, Montgomery requires a continuing infusion of fresh new voices and visions to keep us interested and engaged. Sometimes it feels like this happens in fits and starts. We had Denied and Underexposed in 2011 (Weren’t in town yet? You missed out.). After that, there were little bits and pieces, but not enough to make it feel like there’s a movement afoot.

Readers, we don’t want to oversell the importance of this campus show, but we can say with confidence that it feels like there is a movement afoot.

Play Parade brings together three young artists whose fearless and unapologetic approach to color and light leaves you feeling delighted and exhilarated. It’s like reading a manifesto with a sense of humor. Kellie Newsome’s gigantic canvases invite you to a conversation that you’re not quite prepared to have with someone who seems oddly familiar, all in a world of improbably rich tones. Winfred Hawkins constructs fiendishly elaborate cascades of characters that seem to pursue something just off the page, perhaps over your shoulder, reminding you of Takashi Murakami while radiating with originality. LG Waldo’s canvases seem like the quietest on first approach, but open up on reflection to a universe of light that is both challenging and friendly.

Taken together, it’s a two-room tour de force. You’ll see an assortment of tiny sculptures augmented to look like monsters, creatures, engineers and ninja turtles. If look carefully, you’ll see that there’s only one framed piece – a purposeful gesture by the artists, who told us they find frames confining sometimes and wanted their art to freely flit across the show without the constraints of stern wooden angles.

“Most of this art has been created in the time since the three of us have known each other,” Waldo said. “It’s a room full of moments.”

Go to Alabama State’s lovely gallery to see Hawkins’ tiny humanoids and his multi-toothed creatures screaming across vinyl banners amid tentacles and yellow rubber ducks. Go to Play Parade see the portraits Newsome painted, so large they are almost abstract, including one of Hawkins (accompanied by his frequent monkey companion). Go and see Waldo’s Southern oils, the perfect form of trees shading a dog in a woodland pool. Waldo’s 5×7 cats are tiny rewards amid Hawkins’ visual overloads and Newsome’s screaming colors. The gallery, open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 each day, has lit the entire show perfectly and offers a great space for the play between whimsy and profundity.

“A lot of people in Montgomery prefer traditional imagery,” Hawkins said. “So a lot of this show is about young artists doing something different, finding a way to show things and to have community. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose thing. You just do it. Otherwise, you are giving in to pessimism about what’s possible.”

Seeing the Play Parade show isn’t just about supporting these talented local visionaries – it’s also about supporting ASU’s bold and laudable decision to open its lovely gallery to exhibit emerging non-student artists. Gallery shows are sometimes expensive and hard to get. Artists frequently struggle to find places to hang their work and talk to the public. We’re so happy to learn of ASU’s lovely facility and look forward to seeing all eight of the shows they will hang this year.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, nine fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

 

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  1. Nathaniel Allen says:

    Fantastic article! And the show is absolutely amazing. Thanks for helping spread the word!

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