Sunday, February 16, 2014

More visitors to the MacGown Studio and Delfest9 a huge success

Lucas Muniz and Ellie Baily dropped by my studio Saturday afternoon for a visit. Ellie is a junior in the art program at Mississippi State who is majoring in painting. Lucas told her about my crazy art and that he knew me. I actually met Ellie last spring when I was teaching the Entomological Illustration section of a Scientific Illustration course taught by Alex Bostic. Alex had the students come by the Entomology department over a period of about 4 weeks where I set them up in a lab with microscopes and a wide selection of insects to draw. I showed them some of my methodology for doing insect drawings, especially using ink on scratchboard. This was pretty fun, and hopefully, the students got something out of it. Ellie, at the time, was blonde with a different hairstyle, and when she showed up with her burgundy color hair on Saturday, I did not recognize her. At some point, she mentioned meeting me before, and it all returned in a flash! I must be getting old or something.

Lucas and Ellie standing beside one of my tikis
Anyway, we had a good visit. I think Ellie enjoyed viewing both my art and Joseph's. We talked about techniques, and my super easy way of doing art. Talked about creativity, and also about how sometimes some artists seem to have creative blocks. Great visit! Two really happy jokers.

Lucas and Ellie

Later that night, Joseph and I headed over to The Darkhorse Tavarn, a local hotspot for music. The 9th annual Delfest was going on tonight. This is an event aimed at raising money for the Del Rendon Foundation, the proceeds of which go to an art scholarship at MSU. Del's family and friends started this fund, and more info is available at their web site [] Del Rendon, who died some 9 years back, was a local musician and artist. His band, the Puerto Rican Rum Drunks, were widely popular throughout the Southeast and Del was something of an icon. Del graduated from the art program at MSU and later taught for a while at Starkville High School, where he promoted the idea of originality and creativity, as well as excellence. His departure from teaching there was unfortunate, because he was able to push students to bring out their own particular style in creating art. Since then, the artwork produced there has lost this element of creativity and uniqueness, and has become stale and carbon copy. I have noticed this trend at this school and many others, where students learn to draw still lifes and portraits (especially with graphite and charcoal media) in a polished and textbook method. Great execution and technical expertise. Unfortunately, every single drawing project that I have seen come out of the school in recent years looks as though it was done by the same person. Great technique is nice, but it is not art. It is necessary, but should only be at most a starting point for artists. I don't want to see a super exact looking portrait or still life drawing. Hell, I have a camera and take a picture of that, and is super easy to draw this way too. No, instead,  I want to see how a particular artist interprets those subjects. I want to see the artists' emotional struggles reflected in the way they create, the colors they choose, the way in which they view the subject, the way in which they apply the media, and....well, you get the idea.  So, yes, it was a sad day when Del left the art program at Starkville High. But, really, it was in his music where Del truly shined! He wrote his own lyrics and performed with amazing musicians. Their live concerts were crazy, mesmerizing jam sessions that left the audience in a daze. The day when Del Rendon left us was indeed a sad day. He positively affected the lives of many people.

As far as the scholarship goes, you have to be a current freshman or junior in the art program at MSU to apply for this awesome scholarship. This requirement was unfortunate for Joseph, who just graduated high school in December, and will not be starting school until the fall. MSU is one of several schools he has been thinking about, and with his diverse mix of musical, writing, and artistic talents, he would have been an ideal candidate for this particular award. I say that, because I knew Del very well, having grown up with him here. We were great friends, especially from 6th grade through high school, but also kept in contact throughout the later years. We did artwork together and later even played guitar together. For Del, art was inseparable from music, and this scholarship is geared toward that type of student (at least I hope it is). This year's winner was Keats Haupt of Starkville, a freshman in art at MSU. Interestingly, her dad is a professor and painting emphasis coordinator in the art department here at MSU. Guess its in the genes!

Andrew Rendon with Keats Haupt (center) and MSU Art Dept. Head Jamie Mixon (right). 
Man! The bands were awesome!  It was super interesting to see the folks who came out for this event. They ranged from somewhat conservation local business owners to trippy longhaired bearded dudes who looked like they just stepped out of the 60's! Cool night. Awesome music blaring. People of all ages dancing, swaying, or just bobbing their heads as they enjoyed the tunes. We hung around for a few hours before finally heading home.

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