Positively Negative Space: David Hellams’ Drawings at PaperWorkers Local
The Japanese concept of ma, or negative space is described by Columbia University as “something that is [not] created by compositional elements; it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. Therefore ma can be defined as experiential place understood with emphasis on interval.”
Nashville-based artist David Hellams’ pencil drawings currently on display at PaperWorkers Local in Forest Park embrace the art of paring down — a concept that, according to Isao Tsujimoto, former director general of The Japan Foundation in New York, is decidedly uncomfortable for Americans.
“I think Americans have a kind of fear of ma,” Tsujimoto said in an interview at Carnegie Hall, citing the culture’s need to fill the air during silences.
For Hellams, however, the blank space (the pauses in his pieces) opens the door for imaginations to collaborate with the artist.
“Each drawing pictures one or two figures, and one or more props, which interact to suggest a dramatic scene,” Hellams said. “The lack of backgrounds in these works is both an aesthetic, and a narrative, choice, as the void calls viewers to imagine possible contexts for the scene. These athletes, magicians, and wild animals are players in a story we can only imagine.”
The subject matter of Hellams’ work dwells in the realm of possibility. Magical realism tosses the viewer into a world where the fantastical is an everyday experience, all meticulously sketched in dark pencil with the occasional pop of acrylic paint.
“Here, humor and fantasy speak through a medium that trades in precision and restraint,” the artist said.
David Hellams’ exhibition is on display at PaperWorkers Local and available for viewing during shop hours and Third Friday in the Park. A closing reception for David Hellam’s work will take place Wednesday, July 8 from 5:30–8:30 p.m. For more information, visit paperworkerslocal.blogspot.com.
THURSDAY, JUNE 25
The Amazing Art of Local Curiosities — Birmingham Public Library (Central). 2100 Park Place. Birmingham artists Cory Casella, Melissa Shultz-Jones and Paul Cordes Wilm share their iconic and unconventional perspectives on life in the South in this exhibit in Birmingham’s downtown library. The exhibit will be available during library hours through June 26. Free. For more information, visit bplonline.org.
Think and Drink: The Danger of Art — Avondale Brewing Company. 201 41st St. S. The Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) Young Professionals will hold a panel discussion exploring art forms considered controversial, subversive or even dangerous. Attendees and panelists will sip and sound off about radical roles the arts play in helping or harming the communities in which they occur. 6–8 p.m. Free. For more information, visit Alabama Humanities Foundation on Facebook.
Build, Throw, Fire! — Shelby County Arts Council Gallery. 104 Mildred St., Columbiana. Every Thursday evening through July 6, SCAC Pottery Collective member Nita Terrell teaches this beginner or refresher class on wheel throwing and hand building. Students get individual time with the instructor as they learn other pottery techniques like glazing and color selection. 5–7:30 p.m. $115 plus registration fee. For more information, visit shelbycountyartscouncil.com.
FRIDAY, JUNE 26
Girls Rock Art Auction — Revelator Coffee Company. 1826 Third Ave. N. Girls Rock Birmingham will hold a silent art auction featuring Birmingham’s female artists including Sarah Randolph, Mary Catherine Fehr, Lindsay Mouyal and Catherine Beaton. A piece of art and two Secret Stages VIP passes will be raffled off during the event. Local female DJs will perform, and Crestwood Cafe will provide food. 6–8:30 p.m. $10. For more information, visit girlsrockbham.org.
SATURDAY, JUNE 27
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
Beth Conklin Exhibit Opening — The Joy Gallery. 513 Columbiana Rd. Beth Conklin’s dreamy Wonderland is full of characters inspired by old photographs with a delicate edge of eeriness. Her collage and digital artwork will be on display at the Joy Gallery in Homewood Cumberland Presbyterian Church until July 26. 1–3 p.m. Free. For more information, call (205) 942-3051.
Phoneys Ceramic Workshop — MAKEBhm. 4500 Fifth Ave. S. Participants will be able to make ceramic headphone Phoney Awards in preparation for Max Rykov’s musical history award celebration, The Phoneys. Katie Elkins will lead the workshop. 4–6. $45. For more information, visit makebhm.com.
TUESDAY, JUNE 30
Toby Richards Sculpture Class — Titusville Public Library. 2 Sixth Ave SW. Birmingham Museum of Art artist-in-residence Toby Richards will lead this hands-on wire sculpture and jewelry class. Inspired by the work of Lonnie Holley, students will learn the basics of creating their own one-of-a-kind pieces. 4 p.m. Free, but registration is required. For more information, visit bplonline.org.
THURSDAY, JULY 2
Art and Conversation — Birmingham Museum of Art. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. Every first Thursday the Birmingham Museum of Art opens its doors to facilitate artistic discussion. This month the dialectic, “Old and New: Japanese Prints at the BMA,” will revolve around the BMA’s extensive early 18th–21st century Japanese art collection led by curator Don Wood. 10:30–11:30. $15. For more information, visit artsbma.org.
Current and Past Conversations — 21st Street Studios. 111 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. S. Peter Prinz, artist, sculptor and CEO and co-founder of Space One Eleven, has curated this exhibition focusing on the conversations among the artists who have lived and worked in 21st Street Studios. Exhibiting artists include Sara Garden Armstrong, Catherine Cabaniss, Elizabeth Marie Farr, Darius Hill, Tara Lee, Dave Matson, Rae Trimmier and Mary Grace Wolnski. For more information, call (205) 223-8210.
Divine Debris — Naked Art Gallery. 3831 Clairmont Ave. S. Birmingham artists Jeff Wells and Pamela Hamby present their scrap metal and glass bottle sculpture pieces in a new Naked Art Gallery exhibition. The duo has collaborated to present quirky, environment-friendly creations from post-consumer materials.
Tuesday–Saturday, 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Through July 25. Free. For more information, visit nakedartusa.com.
Nature’s Lines: Drawings in Silver and Gold — Birmingham Botanical Gardens. 2612 Lane Park Rd. Jeanine Cook’s gold and silver metalpoint drawings will be on display at the Library Art Gallery in the botanical gardens through June 30 as part of 2015’s celebration of metalpoint artwork. Cook depicts the intricate forms and abstract nature of trees, flowers and stones. Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday 2–5 p.m. Free. For more information, visit bbgardens.org.