Beth Conklin’s chilling art on exhibition
Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies is not exactly a children’s abecedarian book (“A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” the slim tome begins. “B is for Basil assaulted by bears.”), but artist Beth Conklin swears it’s one of her daughter’s favorites. She gets it from her mother.
Inspired by Gorey’s cast of macabre Victorian children and famed surrealist Rene Magritte’s headless businessmen, Conklin’s digital artworks explore an eerier side of human nature using portraits photographed during the 17th and 18th centuries. Conklin’s pieces are currently on display at the Joy Gallery, a hidden gem of a gallery located (of all places) inside Homewood Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
“She came from an asylum in Victorian England,” Conklin said pointing at the face of a screaming woman superimposed upon the body of a prim female in a family portrait. Her husband and sons’ faces are dissolving into clouds of blackbirds.
Conklin’s process usually begins with a dream or a line in a song. She explained how song lyrics, like Florence+The Machine’s “Lionhearted Girl,” create a clear picture in her imagination, which she then translates to canvas by using Photoshop to manipulate public domain photographs found online, at What’s On 2nd? or thrift stores.
The results are clever, dark and fantastical. In “Captive” a woman with the head of a raven reposes before empty birdcages inviting the viewer to determine if she is the prisoner or if she is waiting to imprison the next innocent bystander.
Beth Conklin’s exhibit will be available 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday through Friday until July 26. The Joy Gallery is located at 513 Columbiana Road in Homewood.
THURSDAY, JULY 2
Art Crawl — Downtown Birmingham. July’s Red+White+Blue Art Crawl will continue Birmingham’s monthly Art Crawl tradition. Attendees can meet local artists and vendors while viewing and supporting their work. Venues across downtown Birmingham include galleries, restaurants and bars and downtown businesses throughout the historic, loft, business, arts and theater districts. 5–9 p.m. Free. For more information, visit birminghamartcrawl.com.
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.
SUNDAY, JULY 5
Slow Art Sunday — Birmingham Museum of Art. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. Every Sunday, the Birmingham Museum of Art facilitates a tour and art discussion focusing on a particular piece in the museum’s collection. This Sunday, docent Katia Kiss Miller will lead a discussion on the Yoruba People’s Epa Mask. 2–3 p.m. Free. For more information, visit artsbma.org.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8
Creative Gas Welding — MAKEBhm. 4500 Fifth Ave. S. Julie Carpenter will teach this two-day course on building creatively with steel. Students will learn how to weld using an oxygen/acetylene-fueled flame, and make a piece of their own. July 8 and 9, 6–9 p.m. $140. For more information, visit make.frontdeskhq.com.
Diana Afandi Exhibit — The Edge of Chaos. 1700 University Boulevard. Diana Afandi’s collection of artwork currently on display at The Edge of Chaos in the Lister Hill Library is the Kenyan artist’s first North American exhibition. Afandi’s paintings are bright, intriguing pieces influenced by her spontaneity in choosing themes and color. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–6 p.m. For information visit, theedgeofchaos.org.
Willie Cole: Transformations — Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. 1221 10th Avenue S. Internationally recognized artist Willie Cole is known for his work in mixed media, transforming ordinary objects into sculptures and compositions inspired by African-American history and the artist’s personal experience. Shoes, bottles and cellophane transform into striking and complex works of art. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday, 12–6 p.m. Through August 8. Free. For more information, call (205) 975-6436.
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.
Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College — Birmingham Museum of Art. 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. Hale Woodruff was not only a master muralist and painter apprenticed under Diego Rivera, but also a patriarch of African-American art. His narrative realism murals depict highlights in the history of Talladega College and the Amistad mutiny and trial. The entire exhibit chronicles Woodruff’s artistic growth through decades of reinvention and will be available through September 6. For more information, visit artsbma.org.
Focus 1: Identified — Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. 1221 10th Ave. S. AEIVA presents a new series of exhibits spotlighting local and regional art collections. Birmingham contemporary art collectors Jim Sokol and Lydia Cheney will share their collections in the first round of Focus, available through July 25. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday, 12–6 p.m. Free. For more information, call (205) 975-6436.
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.
The Freedom Exhibition: Two Countries/One Struggle — Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. 1221 10th Ave. S. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, AEIVA offers the photography of Spider Martin and Peter Magubane. Fifty comparative photographs by each artist depict segregation in American and the South African apartheid. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday, 12–6 p.m. Through August 8. Free. For more information, call (205) 975-6436.