Sloshing through the flooded streets of downtown Macon did not deter August’s First Friday crowd from visiting the galleries – colorful umbrellas dotted the sidewalks from First Street to Cherry Street as people jumped the puddles and made their way, in spite of the nasty weather.
In the gallery of the Macon Arts Alliance, some students from Amy McCullough’s studio, Macon Clay, were the stars of the show. McCullough teaches pottery to anyone interested from age 6 to adult, with emphasis on hand built pieces. On Aug. 4, the exhibit included ceramic creations using slab, coil and press molding techniques, according to Anna Richards, gallery assistant.
The youthful, unfettered creativity of several of McCullough’s students produced some bold pieces which were inspired by imaginary ogres, sea creatures, underwater flora or the human form. The marketing information for the August exhibit featured the sculpture of a monster, in serious need of a dentist, which was conjured by the fertile mind of Alice Hood, one of the youngest potters in the studio.
Sydney Walker, a high school junior, has been a student at Macon Clay since she was too short to reach the work bench; her segmented jewelry trays include the use of glass in the small recesses and were popular enough to sell at the First Friday opening. Telling the story of her ancestors’ journey, Elizabeth Bentzel built her family’s totem, which includes the unlikely combination of a seahorse, an otter, a crab and an elephant.
Sisters Julia and Grace Byron, students of McCullough’s for several years, like the look and texture of organic material – their termite mounds were the centerpiece of the display at the gallery on Friday. An eerie castle and an elegant, abstract blue vessel were the works of long time student Paul Harrington, who has more recently opted for private instruction with McCullough.
McCullough’s daughters, Charley and Jozi Hellis, are living proof that eating clay will not kill you. According to their mother and pottery instructor, “they started eating clay crumbs off the floor under the work tables when they were very small.” At the First Friday opening, Charley’s golden heart and Jozi’s coral reef were among the pieces that sold.
Influenced by current cultural interests, Alicia Bailey displayed a fox and a turtle container and some intriguing “day of the dead” skeletons. The young artists were not intimidated by their instructor’s pottery or by the work of the adult students that participated in the exhibit – Karena Zaloudek’s “Earth Mother” and an organic wall hung piece are ambitious pieces that were well executed. The display will be in the gallery until Aug. 25.
REVISITING TWO ARTISTS AT TRAVIS JEAN
In the past year, Joy Stanley and Priscilla Esser have had one-man shows at the Travis Jean Gallery on Cherry Street, introducing followers of their work to a new vibe – Stanley breaking out of the traditional, landscape discipline and Esser moving from scenes of her travels to an homage to the music scene in the Southeast, featuring not only Macon favorites, but a few from the Big Easy – Satchmo being the most familiar.
At August’s First Friday celebration, Stanley and Esser reprised work that either predates their new subject matter or that art aficionados have seen before in the gallery. A good name for the exhibit would be “Cleaning House,” for with two prolific painters, their studios may need some de-cluttering before launching another painting marathon. Stanley has interpreted the historic houses of Macon with a quirky twist that delights her patrons and is preparing for a show in the fall to unveil her latest projects; Esser keeps her followers apprised of her new works on social media.
Because space is at a premium for both painters, the reduced prices on First Friday lured novice collectors to Travis Jean and enticed others that were looking for another painting to add to their private galleries, at an attractive price. To whet the appetites of patrons brave enough to run through the rain, pork sliders and wine assuaged the sogginess of wet shoes and of droopy hair. The exhibit will be in the gallery for at least the remainder of the month.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.