Among the big things to enjoy on this First Friday of August night downtown is the first-ever art exhibit opening at 830 High.
There, three artists, Rudy Mendes, Anna Richards and Erin Hawkins are featured in the space at 830 High St. which is not so much a gallery as a business center with offices and co-op workspaces run by Macon’s longtime landscape architect, Wimberly Treadwell.
Seeing the work of any of the three artists is a treat, the three together being three times the treat, but taken as a whole the show is a parable of threads of community happily weaving together to help grow the creative renaissance of Builder.
First, about 830 High. The location was once the home of Bibb Printing Co. and instead of the legendary facility falling into disrepair, Treadwell turned it into an office for his success, and you could say a shrewd landscape architecture firm that beautified central Georgia for 30 years. Needing only so much space herself, she has turned nooks and crannies of the site into offices for others and part of it into co-op space for those who don’t need or can’t afford it. their own brick-and-mortar location.
Friendly serendipity plays a key role among Macon’s creatives and the community built between them and their patrons. The opening at 830 High is an example. In addition to their art, each is involved in the wider community in various ways professionally and as volunteers. Mendes and Richards’ “day jobs” with Bike Walk Macon and the Knight Foundation respectively mean they are in offices at 830 High. Hawkins uses the co-op area to meet clients and do the business deals his graphic design and artwork requires.
Perhaps around the communal coffee pot or otherwise rubbing elbows, the idea came to use the many empty walls of the facilities to show off art. It’s something Treadwell envisioned from the start.
But 830 High is not a gallery per se because, although new exhibitions are planned on a quarterly basis, unlike full-time galleries, 830 High’s first customers are those who rent work, conference or others. Doors must be secured as a general rule and cannot be left open every day. But there is a workaround.
“It is mainly during openings that people are free to come and see the art, but even though our doors are regularly locked during the day, people can ask an artist to show them or contact me and we can find them a way in,” says Treadwell. “My office is in the building but my front door is next to the co-op spaces.”
Treadwell is thrilled with what’s happening and how it enriches the artistic experience at Macon, strengthens the community and, of course, enhances the site’s classic interior brick walls.
Now let’s move on to the artists.
Like his two performing cohorts, Mendes is well known in the city and beyond him for his painting, his work with fabrics, ceramics and multimedia creations. Have you been to Mercer’s Hawkins Arena and liked the bear? A fan tells me it’s his. Mendes has an arts degree from Howard University and studied welding at Central Georgia Technical College. He has taught workshops and exhibited throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, showing locally at the Macon Arts Alliance, the Tubman Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Sciences. He is a winner of the Macon Arts Cultural Award and coordinator of the educational program of Bike Walk Macon.
“The 830 High show is the kind of thing we need,” he said of the show and 830 High’s approach. “There needs to be more places where artists can show and sell their work, whether it’s a traditional gallery or a non-traditional space like this. It will really help.
Mendes is also dedicated to helping other artists, as indicated by comments from local folk artist Rhonda “Sunshine” Miller who said, “He taught me to find myself in the art and not someone else”.
When it comes to his own art, he draws inspiration from graffiti/street art and hip hop music and is driven by the people and things he sees around him. He said motivation often comes from street scenes and people, such as those suffering from homelessness and realizing their worth and the difficulties they face.
“If you can compose and organize lines, colors and shapes through abstraction and create a feeling or an emotion that people can see and experience, that’s where the magic happens,” he said. . “I want my work to express that.”
Anna Richards has created a series of paintings every summer since 2017; his latest is in the show 830 High.
“This current series of abstract works is called ‘Sound and Vision’ and is a collection of paintings inspired by my travels over the past year and the connections that are made when I discover new places,” he said. she declared. “I capture light, sound and landscape – both natural and man-made. All these elements come together and trigger memories, feelings and my imagination. I like to capture these visceral reactions and experiences with photos, video or audio and then translate them into another medium. This translation can often seem chaotic, but I like to process through the paint and make something beautiful out of all the noise.
Originally from Nashville, she has been in Macon and has been involved in supporting others in the arts scene since 2015. She was a gallery assistant at the Macon Arts Alliance before taking up the position of program assistant at the Knight Foundation. She hosted artist conversations through On The Table Macon and created the Macon Artists Group, co-founded Creative Conversations, and served on the Macon Cultural Master Plan Steering Committee. She will graduate in 2023 as a non-traditional student from Wesleyan College with a degree in studio art.
No doubt you’ve seen Hawkins’ work even if you’ve never set foot in a gallery. You’ve probably even driven on it. Hawkins, or Mama Hawk Draws, her professional designation, conceived and directed the execution of the mural of the river literally flowing down Cherry Street with the musical notation of “Southern Child” by Little Richard. She’s a designer-artist-muralist who works on everything from stickers to t-shirts to walls and yes, streets. She serves individuals, families, businesses, organizations, and just about anyone who wants to add her considerable design skills to their — whatever.
After years as a corporate art director, she left to pursue her own business and her passion for graphic design and hand lettering. She said she believes in the importance of community and supports other women small business owners. She is a co-founder of Creative Conversations and fulfills other community-wide roles, such as serving on the board of Macon Periods Easier. She loves exposing children to art and showing them how to use it to impact their lives and society. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from James Madison University.
“My paintings (for show) include images of nature – such as leaves, flowers and rainbows – using many layers of paint and other mediums to explore the complexity of self-doubt and of impostor syndrome. But these paintings bring optimism and whimsy to a room, evoking good vibes through the use of bright colors so that the subjects pierce the painting, representing how we must persevere and grow from difficult experiences.
Hawkins said the aspects of self-doubt and impostor syndrome are as much a part of the process as the finished work. “I see it in the mess that goes to the canvas first and how it’s slowly covered, redone, and eventually finds its way into a finished piece.”
The 830 High show is free and runs today from 5-8 p.m. Snacks and drinks will be on hand. As with any show or vernissage – and perhaps especially this one – while there is value in seeing the art, there is added value in meeting and talking with the artists and other members of the artistic community. Plus, there’s the opportunity to support their work and bring home art, as well as learn more about 830 High itself.
More information can be found at www.830high.com, www.wimberlytreadwell.com, www.annarichardsart.com and www.mamahawkdraws.com. Mendes can be found by searching Diane Rudy Mendes on Facebook.
There’s a lot going on on First Friday and a great way to keep up with it is to check out NewTown Macon’s www.facebook.com/NTMacon page by going to their Events section.
Also, be sure to visit The Weaver Center for Dance, 117 Orange St., from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. See www.facebook.com/NutcrackerofMiddleGeorgia for details.
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at [email protected]