For the past six months, Mark Ballard has spent a lot of time waiting -- in hospital rooms, in doctors’ offices -- or holding his breath, anticipating answers to the myriad questions jotted on his mental check list for the doctors who have treated his wife, Debra, after she damaged her knee last December.
On social media, Debra kept Mark’s fans apprised of his struggles with circulatory problems, which have dogged him for a couple of years, but now the tables were turned.
Mark returned the favor by keeping friends and family in the loop when Debra was frustrated by her lack of progress and, more recently, enjoyed the thrill of a successful procedure to get her back on her feet.
If you know Mark, imagine the interminable waiting for a man whose mind never rests, whose observations are catalogued for the next sketch or painting.
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To assuage the ennui of those tedious hours of waiting, Mark took his sketchbook with him and, in less than eight months, executed a prodigious number of drawings from which he selected 31 for his first solo exhibit in 25 years. Macon Arts Alliance opened the show on August’s First Friday to more than 300 patrons who heard the news that “The Mark of a Pencil” features only colored pencil drawings.
Of course, there was a surprise in store: Ballard’s artistic and delicious cupcakes. Celebrating the opening with the artist and his wife were his sister Denise Chambers, Haley and Kemp Newman and Edwina Barnes, among many others from Macon and Middle Georgia who have looked forward to a smorgasbord of talent from their favorite artist cum entertainer.
Every remark could have been punctuated with an exclamation point, so effectual were the intricate details of the fruits, flowers, birds, fabrics, water and baskets in conveying the luscious textures of familiar, even ordinary things.
Art collectors who have added Ballard’s works to their walls over the years are still waiting to find the perfect peach, one that looks exactly like the fuzzy gems in the basket in “Georgia Pride,” or mop head hydrangeas in the same china blue of those arranged with pots and a blue bird in “Potting Shed.”
The bed of amaryllis so carefully tended in this writer’s garden has failed to measure up to those in a commissioned Ballard painting of those regal blooms almost 35 years ago.
There is always chatter about which drawing or painting is the favorite at a one-man show -- and Friday was no exception. The six perfectly executed vegetables, each one drawn on a black background, shimmered with the just-washed freshness of the garden’s bounty.
To capture the perspective of moving water is challenging, so “The Ripple Effect,” the drawing looking down on a woods duck as it glides through a pond, was spellbinding and serene in the midst of the other characteristically bold drawings.
The tiny bumblebee has become a familiar signature on many of Ballard’s works, an appropriate emblem for an artist who assiduously pursues his craft with the skills of a botanist. See the exhibition at the gallery through Aug. 28.
LIGHT AND STONE SET TO MUSIC
When Kevin McKee wrote the composition for organ and two trumpets, “Lux and Lapis,” he was inspired by the grandeur of the National Cathedral and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The acoustics in cathedrals lend majesty to the sounds of the organ, a musical and magical counterpoint to the intrinsic strength of the towering “stone works of art,” which McKee considers an “undeniably powerful” setting for anyone, regardless of religious beliefs.
On Aug. 9, trumpeters Adam Hayes and Joel Treybig, who commissioned the piece in 2014, were joined by organist Andrew Reisinger for the Music and the Arts series concert at Vineville United Methodist Church.
The trio of oddly paired musical instruments opened the concert with “Fantasy Suite” by 17th century composer John Hingeston, surprising the audience with the delicacy of the performance of the three movements. “Lux and Lapis” followed as a triumphal panegyric to places of worship, enhanced by Reisinger on the church’s magnificent organ, on which he later played, solo, J.S. Bach’s “Prelude in C Major.”
Reisinger praised the acquisition of the reproduction circa 1830 New England style organ, which was installed with more than 3,000 pipes in 2009 and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to play the noble instrument in a sanctuary with near perfect acoustics.
The concert closed with “The Prince of Denmark’s March Fantasy,” a variation of the “Prince of Denmark’s Wedding Processional,” written by Treybig as a contemporary, abstract rendition of the familiar march to the altar, an energetic ending to another successful Music and the Arts season.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.