Going Strong

By Ginny Masullo

With each First Thursday the momentum builds. The Underground serves as a hub for exceptional local and visiting artists.

“The community has been incredibly supportive and excited by our presence with our First Thursday opening receptions,” said Megan Chapman, one of the Underground’s resident artists. “Every time new people visit our four galleries and tour the 12 working artist’s studios, they are visibly impressed by our organization.

“Having the artists’ studios on-site helps to educate the public about our art and break down barriers. The studios add another layer to the Underground experience. We love to talk about our work with the public and share our space and process. We want people to feel comfortable and relaxed when they come to the Underground.”

First Thursdays at the Fayetteville Underground is indeed a happening place, and the month of June may be the most rocking one yet. The gallery will feature the entire Kaminsky family — Hank, Jo Ann and their sons, Daniel and Jesse — as well as Underground artist Sam Gray.

Gray, a University of Arkansas art major, will show his work in the front Vault Gallery. Gray works in several mediums, but his current concentration is in charcoal on linoleum. He says the use of linoleum provides lower cost, durability and the opportunity to work in larger scale.

Hank and Jo Ann Kaminsky are bulwarks in the art community. Their love of art is infectious, so it’s no surprise that both of their sons are artists. While each of the Kaminsky family members will have a show in separate but connected galleries of the Fayetteville Underground, they also will mix each other’s work into their individual shows.

“Even though we live miles apart and each of us work in different mediums, we are in parallel play as we prepare and plan this show,” Jo Ann said.

Jesse will immediately draw people into the galleries with his installation. Shipping pieces from his home in Boston, where he works for MIT in computers and is an artist in residence at Boston Center for the Arts, he describes the piece for the Fayetteville show as part of a larger body of work that is “about how to make shapes using very simple rules and processes.” His work explores the way the natural world creates extremely complex shapes from the simplest building blocks.

Daniel lives in San Francisco where he is studying film at City College. Known as a retro guy, his work involves 16mm film, View-Master film loops with sound and two-dimensional collage. Also a writer and a guitarist, he may join his mother (on drums) and his brother (playing sax) and other musicians in a spontaneous musical performance.

Some giant puppets made by Jo Ann might even make an appearance for the opening. Jo Ann is owner and director of the Art Experience, Center for Expressive Art, Healing and Growth in Fayetteville, where she teaches creative arts classes in many different kinds of media and leads therapeutic arts groups for all ages. Her oil paintings will be the mainstay of her show at the Underground.

“This show is a venue for presenting a very personal process, which is a more free and timeless zone than what my puppets and other work entail,” Jo Ann said.

Rich with color and concrete-yet-abstract imagery, these pieces invite the viewers to enter and sit inside a deeply intuitive space that conveys emotion and mystery.

Hank has recently been pondering magnetic fields and communication. The result of this study is what he says may possibly be his last project. The unveiling of this ongoing project, called Sacred Ground, will be the primary focus of his show.

Hank explained the Sacred Ground sculptures are a work in process. With symbols and words integrated into the surfaces, the sculptures speak about the sacred nature of the Earth and the concepts of peace, citizenship, fairness and other positive values we hold as a community. The pavement or background of the sculptures contains language contributed by various members of the community. On top of that language, which is an inherent component of the sculptures, are succinct words that convey the concept of hallowed ground.

Hank weaves his love of music and philosophy into his pieces. He holds deeply to the philosophy that art is the symbolic transformation of experience and that the making of art has a genetic basis. This fact, Hank says, acknowledges the importance of art in society.

In a 6,000-square-foot studio and foundry in Fayetteville called the Village Sculptor, Hank has created works that adorn thousands of private collections and public spaces, including, among many others, The World Peace Prayer Fountain in the Fayetteville Town Center and Miracle of the Double Helix at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences center in Little Rock.

Fayetteville Underground is in the basement of 1 E. Center St. on the east side of the Fayetteville square. The building was previously a bank building. Enter the center door and follow the arrows to the basement. There will be an artists’ reception from 5 to 8 p.m. today.

Categories: Features