After studying art and art education at the University of Georgia, Brian Woods thought he wanted to be an illustrator in the medical arena, a precise art form that must interpret medical procedures with exacting reality.
In short order, he realized his passion for conceptual drawing and painting would take precedence over the strict discipline of illustration. However, in his exhibition now hanging at the 567 Center for Renewal on First Street, there are a few illustrations of children that are funny and even interpretative, a flight of fancy for an artist who likes to represent the “complexity of human relations” in America.
Woods grew up in the Georgia Piedmont area with a mother who was an art teacher and painter in Walton County and who instilled in him an appreciation for fine art at a very young age. Woods said, “I’ve been working with analytical themes and symbolic representations for about 10 years,” creating images that will resonate with viewers, inspire conversations and be the subjects for introspective thought.
There are several paintings at the 567 gallery that are components of series, some based on historical events and people, and others on the human experience and literary devices.
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In “Return of the King,” he metaphorically addresses the growth and collapse of suppressive institutions throughout history, not just as that applies to the “black experience,” but to the cycle of success and failure of many social and economic movements.
Woods came to the 567 for the first time this month from his home in Savannah, where he has lived and worked for several years. He gives credit to Colin Pendorf, curator at the gallery, for the very successful show, which, as the artist had hoped, received a lot of positive attention when it opened at the first of the month.
A New Direction for a Macon Painter
At Travis Jean Gallery, Priscilla Esser opened her jazz themed exhibition on First Friday to the delight and surprise of patrons who have followed her success since she started painting — or felt like showing her work to the public. The show was a resounding affirmation that Esser captures her subjects in their environments with energy and empathy.
The sweat on the brow of Satchmo or the sexy stance of a jazz singer speak to viewers who have spent many evenings in smoky bars listening to the icons of an era.
During the opening, Esser discussed her muse in taking a new tack with subject matter, saying that Jean Bragg recommended the musical theme for this show. “Believe me, it was a real exercise,” she said about the suggested theme from Bragg, who is known for encouraging artists to stretch the boundaries of their comfort zones.
She added, “I really did not think I could pull this off in the months before the show, but May first arrived and here we are.”
Before the end of opening night, Esser had sold nine paintings and the gallery was full of admirers still mulling over possible purchases. So accustomed are Esser’s fans to her still life and animal paintings or shore scenes, the animation and emotion in the faces of the musicians are astounding. The show will be in the gallery for a while, so be sure to see some of your favorite musicians caught in the act of playing and singing.
Jazz at the Stetson House
The Jazz Association of Macon (JAM) held its annual event, Jazz in the Courtyard, on May 13 at the Stetson House in the Cherokee Heights neighborhood, featuring the music of Miss Keela and the KLS Percussion Band.
There were faces on the bandstand familiar to Macon’s jazz lovers, including saxophonist Ed Clark. In the audience, seated at tables on the grounds, were listeners and dancers, including Lisa Moore and Windy Blanks, who took advantage of the dance numbers and the driveway to show off some Latin and swing moves.
The Stetson house is home to Ned and Priscilla Esser, the latter of whom is the same artist whose paintings of jazz musicians have attracted so much attention at the Travis Jean Gallery — so she knows their music and their moods from years of supporting the genre in Macon. The Essers have been generous donors to JAM and have opened their courtyard yearly to bring new members to the fold.
On that miraculously clear Saturday night, the food, donated by members, was plentiful and Lynn Lavery and Kirsten West were enjoying a special night celebrating a momentous birthday with their friend, Anne Bragg, and other scats who support the event every year. For more information, visit maconjazz.org.