Matthew Mayes and the Muse: Artist reveals Layers of Meaning
“Being aware of your mortality at a young age makes you grow up in many ways,” artist Matthew Mayes said. “It’s a very interesting perspective, knowing that there’s a possibility that you could die and knowing that you have an illness that has no cure.”
Mayes, whose series of paintings Layers of Meaning is on display at the Birmingham Public Library through September 4, spoke candidly about the rare blood deficiency that shook his childhood, introduced him to painting and ignited his joie de vivre.
“All of a sudden I was sick, but I still looked healthy,” Mayes said. “That threw people off a little bit. …I think it was my spirit. I’ve always had a smile.”
After watching Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, the Florence, Ala., native reached for a watercolor set (“I think it cost, like, a buck.”) to cure his boredom while being homeschooled at the onset of his illness in fifth grade. The new creative outlet served Mayes throughout his battle with the blood disorder, which forced him in and out of hospitals until he graduated from high school.
The lens through which Mayes saw his life and the brevity of existence influenced his approach to art and the boldness with which he pursued his artistic career.
“I think more than anything it allowed me to have a zest for life,” Mayes said.
The acrylic paintings in Layers of Meaning surge with emotion and pure energy reflecting the artist’s intuitive process. Mayes explained that the quick-dry properties of acrylic paint allow each piece to determine its direction and give the artist the opportunity to exercise confidence and flexibility in his talent.
“To Create,” a piece in the Meaning series, captures the essence of breathing life into art in waves of crimson, amber, ivory and a spectrum of blues. It is not a calm painting. Like its creator it is full of gusto, enthusiasm and a divine sense of carpe diem.
July 19 2:30–5 p.m. Layers of Meaning is on display on the fourth floor of the Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. An opening brunch reception will be held Sunday, July 19 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. For more information, visit bplonline.org and matthewmayes.net.
THURSDAY, JULY 16
Let Us Now Praise The Roma — Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. 520 16th St. N. Photographer Karen Graffeo documents the Roma people, or “gypsies,” of Southern Europe with her collection currently on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Through her images, she seeks to give insight and understanding to an often-misunderstood group. Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5 p.m. Through Sept. 13. $12. For more information, visit bcri.org.
ARTReach Opening Reception — Four Seasons Gallery. 2910 14th St. S. ARTReach returns to Four Seasons Gallery bringing the collected works of Birmingham Art Association members and guest artists. Portions from all sales will support the BAA. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served. 5–8:30 p.m. Free. For more information, visit 4seasonsantiquesandart.com.
FRIDAY, JULY 17
Summer Art Sale Reception — Naked Art Gallery. 3831 Clairmont Ave. S. In coordination with Third Friday in Forest Park and Tour de Loo Naked Art Gallery presents their Summer Art Sale opening reception. The sale runs through Aug. 8 with discounts up to 50 percent on works by local artists throughout the store. All bar tips during the reception will benefit Sidewalk Film Festival. 5–9 p.m. For more information, visit nakedartusa.com.
SATURDAY, JULY 18
Zentangle Dangles Class — Artists on the Bluff. 571 Park Ave., Hoover. Joanne Fink began the “dangle” movement in the art of Zentangle. Tangled Stones artists will guide participants through Fink’s technique. Registration includes Fink’s how-to book, Dangle Designs. 9:30 a.m.–12 p.m. $45. For more information, visit tangledstones.com/home.
TUESDAY, JULY 21
Yellowhammer Print School — Yellowhammer Creative. 3917 Second Ave. S. Attendees will walk away with their own screen printed shirt and poster after learning the basics of printmaking from MAKEBhm and Yellowhammer Creative during this intro to screen printing class. 6–9 p.m. $75. For more information, call (205) 592-0061.
Daisy Winfrey at Rojo — Rojo. 2921 Highland Ave. Daisy Winfrey has been making “creepy, yet endearing art since 1984,” according to her bio. Her media of choice as described by her Etsy store: “Anything, everything, plus glitter.” The artist currently has her work on display in Rojo’s Side Gallery. Free. For more information, visit rojobham.com.
Beth Conklin at Joy Gallery — 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. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Free. For more information, call (205) 942-3051.
Inherited Scars: A Meditation on the Southern Gothic — Birmingham Museum of Art. 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd. Curated by University of Alabama at Birmingham students, this photography exhibit explores the complex history of the South through fine art representations and documented photography. Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday 12–5 p.m. Free. For more information, visit artsbma.org.
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.
Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College — Birmingham Museum of Art. 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. Hale Woodruff is 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. Free. For more information, visit artsbma.org.