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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Walking Again: 3rd Annual Hammond Art Walk

This 3rd Annual Hammond Art Walk caught me off guard. It feels like it was snowing just yesterday, and I wasn't ready for the fun and games spring events have to offer. Lucky for me, I just so happened to be perusing Paul Henry's Facebook page and saw that it was being held that very next weekend! Unfortunately I had plans for that weekend, but I was able to squeeze some time in to visit 8 of the 12 sites. It was a must visit event, and there was no way I'd miss it after the wonderful discoveries from last year. Visiting these galleries is transformative. It makes you think outside yourself. It gives you a connection with another human being through the art they've crafted. 

The 3rd Annual Hammond Art Walk had a varied set of art that was well organized throughout the twelve exhibit spaces and shops. It was easy to get to each spot, with most of them being within walking distance of each other. It was the few that I'd have to drive to that dropped off of my list in the Saturday time crunch. I'll have to go back to those later this month. 

This year in addition to the paintings, photos, and sculpture, the written word was included. This exhibit by the Indiana Writers Consortium at the Hammond INnovation Center was a nice addition to the walk. I noticed more art projects than last year too, which was a nice way to get into the spirit of the event. It was an all-day event.

Overall it was a great day out to enjoy the weather, see something new, and learn how the local art community is evolving.


Paul Henry's Art Gallery
facebook.com/pages/Paul-Henrys-Art-Gallery/184404196644
I started the day at Paul Henry's. I grabbed a map for the art walk and walked through the gallery. It has been a while since I've visited Paul Henry's, and it really is my loss. While some art was familiar, I was able to find pieces that were new and different, like sculptures from Dominic Ruffalo.

I looked through the Bad Business exhibit wishing I'd gone to the opening reception. Prints of posters entered in the contest hung on the back wall, each one worthy of a prize. The winner was an image of a businessman wearing a gas mask, finger dripping in oil, and surrounded by cash. Behind him was the pure chaos and destruction to our environment: smoke plumes, oily water, oil rig, and pelican writhing in agony at the hands of the businessman. It was a very thought-provoking piece by Greg Johannes. It was hard to tear myself away from the alter to greed on display on the adjoining wall. The frame was hung with gold chains and other symbols of capitalism. There was a list of items you could leave at the alter if you wanted to rid yourself of corporate greed like petroleum jelly. Each wall had paintings and prints from different artists making up this "show of Anti-Corporate Art." There were fat cats and big steaks. Photos showed scenes of Americana with the backdrop of industrial life. The exhibit is open until July 15, so you still have time to get out and see it.

For more info about Paul Henry's Art Gallery, check out my March 2013 post.


Towle Theater
towletheater.org
After Paul Henry's we stepped right next door to the Towle Theater. Last year they had works from 10 artists to celebrate their 10th season. This year they had paintings from Patti Tobin Davis. They were wild patterns with calming colors. The greens and blues were soothing in the chaos of the shapes and lines. For most of the patterns, every inch of the canvas had a different twist and turn.

We chatted a bit with Managing Director Jeff Casey about the art and current season. Ms. Davis' work was on display for the full run of The Nightmare Room, but frankly my mind was reeling when I got out of that show. I couldn't process the art around me. Stepping into the Towle last weekend, that play had been fully decompiled by my brain, and I could enjoy the paintings fully. Jeff pointed out one painting (Ground Cover Chickweed on the top left on the picture below). Apparently it was so colorful and vibrant, it looked to be fabric. Ms. Davis took a textile class and made fabric to match this piece. She wore a matching dress to the opening reception. A true creative artist.


Hammond INnovation Center
hammondinnovates.com indianawritersconsortium.org
We walked into the offices at the Hammond INnovation Center not knowing what to expect. Last year they had a room filled with cartoonists and graphic artist. In the posts about the art walk I saw that they may have haiku. We saw a class going on and nearly walked out. Luckily, someone stopped us. She led us to the offices of the Indiana Writers Consortium. They had just moved into this business incubator and were ready to get started. One of the writers consortium organizers led us to a room where they were having activities.

They had a spot set up to write your own haiku on a bookmark. Another spot had a 7x7x7x7 exercise where you grab the seventh book from the stack, open to the seventh page, find the seventh sentence, and write a seven-line poem beginning with that sentence. The last spot had a dictionary exercise where you open the dictionary to a random page, find a word you don't know the meaning of, and make up a definition for it.

I picked the 7x7x7x7. I grabbed In the Valley of the Kings by Terrence Holt. The sentence was so long! It was 34 words! I made due:

But being in no mood to take up the investigation himself
even in his irritation
he was no match for Solomon's persistence
and in the end he agreed to provide
the samples she requested.
She greedily grasped the samples.
She ran away into the night.

I tried another from Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith and ended up with the shortest line ever. Just one single word.

Go.
Get out of here.
Be on your way.
Send me a postcard.
Adios.
Before it starts to rain.
Good bye.

Mr. K went with the dictionary exercise and made up fun new definitions to two words.
  • Pluera: Collection of feathers from a flock of birds.
  • Impasto: Fake noodles.
Then we walked over to the stairwell in the lobby for a poetry reading by Yusuf Ali El. He read poems written by his younger self from One Room Shack and mused at his depth at such a young age. This 66-year-old poet wrote many of those works between the ages of 19 and 23. He talked to us about what made him tick. His love of country music, poetry, women, and life. He loves the little things in life. As he spoke, he read. He sang. He joked. He motivated. He talked of legacy.

Yusuf Ali El grew up without electricity. No television. No video games. He read. He sat outdoors. He read some more.

He read poetry from other phases of his life. He sent shivers up my spine, telling that story of an obsessed lover, Crazy Joe Blues. He sang a children's poem that mimicked a jump rope rhyme. It was worth spending the 45 minutes taking that journey with him, even when our time was limited.

Below are some memorable quotes from his talk:
  • If it fills you up, then go with it.
  • The art exceeds the artist.
  • I have the right to write anything in the world.
  • The Universe, she talks in her sleep, and I write it all down.
  • I'm shy...but I'm comfortable with what I know. So I try to know a lot. 


Substation #9
southshoreartsonline.org
This year this South Shore Arts branch had art activities and 5830: Memory Paintings of Home by Robert Johnson on exhibit. It was the final day of the exhibit. We were glad to have made it in time to see this collection. Robert Johnson graduated from both the Art Institute of Chicago (1955) and the Illinois Institute of Technology ('60s). He worked as an art teacher and retired from the Chicago Public School System as a Director of the Bureau of Art (source). All of the paintings in this collection were done by memory. His house had long burned down, but in these images, he has recounted every detail. The burning cigarette in the ashtray of his uncle's room, the newspapers covering the floor, the view from the attic stairs. His attention to detail kept me looking at the paintings.


Blue Room Café
thebrcafe.com
This year the Blue Room Café had a collection from various artists including Leslie Green and others commonly featured at Paul Henry's Art Gallery. It was a bit crowded in there, so I wasn't able to pick up the names of each of the artists. You can see them all at Paul Henry's Art Gallery. It was really nice to see Ms. Green's work with the light behind it. It gave me an even better appreciation of it to see it in that light.


Mark Anderson Studios
markandersonillustration.com
We walked up to Mark Anderson Studios to see what new drawings he had on display. A stack of his O is for Obama illustrated book sat on a desk. Posters lined the walls for community events, including the art walk. He had some watercolors and other books he's illustrated (C is for Cubs, For the Love of Dogs, and others). It was nice to run through and see what his creative mind had come up with over the year.


Flex Studio
We were walking back to the car at the lot by Paul Henry's coming around the north side of the building when we saw a sign for Flex Studio. We were't sure how far down the alleyway it would take us, but we jogged across the street and decided to check it out. We had a little time left.

We came upon the building to see an artist spraying the brick wall. He was coloring in lush red lips on a large graffiti-style mural. He stopped to say hello. He was spraying and the lips became more defined. I could see the outline of her hair and eyes. His painting was so controlled. We walked up to the door to read a sign. Flex Studio's art was on display at the HAC. We had time to stop on our way out of town.

I wanted so badly to take a picture of this practical art demonstration. I wanted to capture the art coming alive. I didn't want to disturb the artist, but I was kicking myself all of the way to the HAC. Mr. K offered to turn around, but the moment had passed.

Hammond Arts Center
faithchurchonline.org/community-arts-centers
I walked into the HAC and my day was made. Giant spray-painted portraits were on display. Portraits by none other than Felix (Flex) Maldenado, Jr.! I could take pictures and study the intricacy of his work without disturbing him. There were so many details. The cannon seemed an extension of his arm. I can barely hit my large target of a table or board with the stream of paint, but Flex can spray on eyelashes, pupils, and thin lines on a shirt. The paint drips made for lip creases, the colors made for shading on flesh. Seeing it all up close made me appreciate it that much more. After picking up one of the Chicago Street Art magazines laying around the studio, I learned that these were portraits of graffiti artists, artists Flex admires and respects.

Top Row: Regieknow, Brooks Golden, Denz
Bottom Row: Oms One, Risk, Orko
My time was limited, and I didn't get to visit all of the galleries and businesses participating. This is a list of those I missed. I'll start at the Side Car next year and work my way south!
So keep an eye out next spring for the 4th Annual Hammond Art Walk. It'll be on Paul Henry's Facebook page, and posters will be up at local Hammond businesses.

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