Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mississippi State University Art Department Faculty Exhibition

Lots going on in Starkville today and this weekend. Unfortunately, I could not attend everything. Missed the Othello production being put on by the American Shakespeare Company at Lee Hall. This was part of the MSU Lyceum Series, which always brings in amazing production be it dance, theater, musical, or otherwise.

Beginning tonight and running through Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night is the Magnolia Independent Film Festival hosted at Hollywood Premiere Cinemas here in Starkville. This is a really cool deal if you enjoy seeing independent films. I do. I basically find mainstream movies to be about as interesting as mainstream music, and that is not saying a lot. The only thing that I enjoy from a typical box office movie is action and cool special effects. Not saying those two things don't have merit, but wouldn't it be nice if just now and then the big studios actually produced a movie that was original? Ok, maybe once in a while, but its rare. However, these independent film festivals showcase a wide variety of films of varying lengths. I don't like all of them, but do appreciate their uniqueness. Go if you can. Some of the movies are directed by locals, and some are by folks from all over the world. In fact, some of these movies will be later premiered at larger film festivals such as the one at Sundance. You can read more about the festival at

Also happening this evening was the opening of the Mississippi State University Art Department Faculty Exhibition at the Visual Arts Center on University Drive. Our university has a pretty decent art department that has grown considerably over the last 30 years. Many of the faculty, such as Brent Funderbunk and Alex Bostic have achieved international notoriety. Others are equally talented. Joseph and I stopped by for an a hour or so to check it out.

As we were pulling in, so was Chad "the mad dog drummer" Anderson was also pulling in. Chad teaches web design, is a professional jazz drummer, and his drawings are amazing! This joker should be teaching drawing!

Well, the show was pretty small actually, and not all of the faculty appeared to have stuff in it. But, the pieces that were there were all pretty solid. Of course, Brent had one of his vibrant, heavily saturated watercolor pieces. Alex had two small oil portraits done in an interesting style. Soon Eh had two nice little ballpoint pen drawings that looked like they had been done in pencil. Of course, Robert Long had two very elegant ceramic pieces.

One of the newest faculty members, Jake Weigel, showed us a small part of a larger scale installation that he had done in Memphis. It was called Black Holes I believe. Joseph, who has already done one installation, was particularly interested in this. 

Jake Weigel
And, well, everything showed the fact that these instructors are more than qualified to teach. But, for me, Chad and Greg Martin stole the show!

Chad, who does not even teach drawing, had two of his emotive portraits of musicians in the show. One thing that made them stand out even more for me was the fact that when he does these portraits of musicians, he does them all in different styles. He finds a style that suits the individual musician's style of playing. Now that is freakin' cool. Plus, these drawings are SPECTACULAR! Of note, and like me, Chad also went to Starkville High School back in the day under the tutelage of Nelle Elam. Ah, the days of creative freedom at SHS! Incidentally, Nelle was at the show tonight. She does not appear to have aged in the last 30 years!

Professors hanging out listening to a brief gallery talk by new faculty member Jake Weigel.
Notice the portrait on the left wall by Chad Anderson
As I mentioned, Greg Martin also had a very nice piece, a large painting. This crazy music loving joker arrived at MSU from Los Angeles, and we got a good one with him. This particular painting used some iconic references well known to Mississippi. Really liked this. 

Greg Martin's painting!
Photo credit: Kamau Bostic. 
Of course, we saw quite a few people we knew. Our newest grad student in our Mississippi Entomological Museum, Sandra Schachat, stopped by for the show. Although Sandra is working on a Master's degree in entomology, she also has a degree in art history. So, obviously, she appreciates art. And, she fits right in because she not only dresses like an artist, but she is weird.

Sandra (not wanting me to take her photo) and Greg Martin

It was also good to see Caroline Cooper again. Caroline is the academics records person for the art department. Incidentally, Sandra, Greg, and Caroline were all at the Delfest last weekend! Similar tastes? Caroline, who for some reason, I did not immediately recognize at the Delfest, was some kind of awesome dancer! Girl has some moves!

Caroline Cooper!
If you missed the opening, so not despair, as the exhibition will be up until March 29th. Gallery hours are Tuesday - Friday, 10 AM - 4 PM and Saturday from 2-4 PM. 

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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Upcoming shows and stuff...

I will have art in several exhibitions coming up this spring and summer. Cool. Of course, the first will be the LUSO-American Surrealism of the 21st Century Exhibition at the LuminArte Gallery in Dallas, TX from 22 March through 26 April, 2014. Opening reception will be on 22 March from 5-7 pm. This group show will include some spectacular artists from both the USA and Portugal including France Garrido, Joe MacGown, K.D. Matheson, Shahla Rosa, Steve Smith, and Olga Spiegel from the USA and Victor Lages, Paula Rosa, Francisco Urbano, and Santiago Ribeiro from Portugal. Not sure exactly how this collaboration between these two countries came about, but no doubt about it, there will be some cool artwork present! I am planning on sending a couple of pieces, both mixed media on wood: "Going Green" and "Gordenobyte", 

Going Green

Check out the awesome poster that Steve Smith came up for with for the show (below)! I have seen a couple of press releases already. Here is a link to one [link]. 

Hopefully, next on the agenda will be a couple of pieces in the Cotton District Juried Arts Exhibition on 12 April. I submitted three pieces for the show, but you never know if any will be accepted. Depends on the juror, who is a different artist each year. This year's juror is David Lambert, a noted southern artist with a very unique style. Check out his web site:  I have had great success the last few times I have entered things in this show, and have even won best of show a time or two including last year with my watercolor and ink piece entitled "Cancer". But, that means absolutely nothing with a different judge each year. You could win something one year, and not even be accepted the next! Its always a great show either way. So, if possible, make plans to come see it and the Cotton District Arts Festival in general. Lots of music, art, and food. Even a 5k race. 

"Cancer", Best of Show winner, 2013 Cotton District Juried Arts Exhibition
The three pieces I entered this year are "Convergence," "Going to the Circus," and "March Madness." The first two are done in a similar style and just recently finished, but March Madness is  quite different. It has a raw, street art feel to. People either freakin' love this picture or pretty much hate it. I like it and it was fun as hell to do. If you don't like it, I automatically put you into that "uncool" category. Sorry. Will do more of this type of painting in the future. But, really, my favorite of the three is "Convergence." Really liked how this turned out. I sure hope it gets in, just so people can see it!

Going to the Circus
March Madness
On May 5th, from 5 to 7 pm, Laurie Burton, Joseph H. MacGown (my artistic son), and I will be having a small show and reception in Laurie's studio/gallery on Jackson Street here in Starkville, MS. Will write more about it as the date approaches. I have written about Laurie's works before, and I think this will be a fun little show. It will not be a big one, but we will have some interesting things on display, all of which will be for sale. We plan on having prints and smaller things for sale as well. Not to mention, refreshments! If you want a preview of Laurie's freaky sculpture, she has nine of them on display right now at the Union Gallery on the Mississippi State campus. There will be a reception for this show this Thursday, February 13th from 4 to 6 pm. Come on out! And, oh yeah, they always have a great spread (nothing alcoholic of course, on this campus). 

Sculpture by Laurie Burton
What else? Oh yeah, Alison Buehler of the Mississippi Modern Homestead Center here in Starkville asked me if would like to have a show at their awesome cool place this May/June. Well, yeah! Don't have dates yet, so will update that later. The center is something that she and her husband started a while back, and its pretty cool for this area. Lots of activities, rotating shows, interactive gardens, etc. Read more about the place at:

Some other cool news.  I will have at least some artwork in an really trippy book called "The Encyclopedia of Fernal Affairs." This full color hardback book scheduled for late 2014 is being done by the Dreams and Divinities group, written by Gromyko Semper, Liba W. Stambollion, and Bruce Rimell, and designed and laid out by  Liba W. Stambollion. This encyclopedia will feature the surreal and fanciful works of 105 amazing international arts as they illustrate the imaginary "Garden of Fernal Delights." Read more about this fantastic book project and see select works by the artists involved at

As for myself, I will have at least one work, "Green Silence," and possibly others, in this super trippindicular book. 

Green Silence

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another visit to the MacGown studio by some local artists

This past Saturday was gorgeous! Following several days and nights of frigid temps, we were rewarded with mid 60's temps on Saturday. After lunch I got a call from the wild and wacky abstract painter Paul Buckley, whose studio I had visited a few weeks back. He wondered if he and Libby Pollard, another awesome local artist, could come by and visit a while. Joseph and I were just hanging out, so that sounded great. We gave them the tour, starting in the house.

Libby Pollard! 
Yep, those two wandered around looking at both my art and Joseph's. They both particularly liked Joseph's painting/collage piece that he did on wood. Looks crazy and super cool framed. That's it in the above photo on lower right. Libby also appreciated my loose mosaics made with bits of fossilized shells, such as the one above Joseph's two pieces in the above photo. Libby, like Paul, does fantastic abstract paintings, but also creates beautiful mosaics with pieces of glass she cuts herself.

One of Libby's colorful paintings
After checking out various things in the house, including several of my collaborative pieces, we headed down the hill to the studio. Along the way, I showed them my cedar tikis that I carved a few years back. Then, we hit the studio! Man, let me tell you, our studio is full! Anybody want to donate a 3000 sq. ft. building to the cause?

Lots to see in here for sure. We showed them some highlights, mostly relatively recent pieces, and talked a bit about techniques and stuff.
A watercolor and ink picture that I recently started. Its about 40 inches tall. Coming along.
Some of Joseph's recently matted pieces. 
Anyway, it was a pretty cool visit! Its is always inspiring to talk with other artists. We are now trying to figure out ways of putting on some local art shows. Tentatively, it is looking like Joseph and I will have a small exhibition with Laurie Burton at her gallery space on Jackson Street. Thinking about early May! If this works out, then hopefully we can match up others to have some rotating shows. We also talked about a potential outdoor afternoon show, perhaps in my yard when the flowers are blooming in the spring. Could be interesting. 

In other art news this weekend, Joseph had a one on one art portfolio scholarship interview with some folks at Millsaps University on Friday. He said he felt like it went well. Guess we will see. Millsaps is one of the colleges he has been thinking about. At this point, its a matter of putting together various scholarships and deciding which school would be the best fit for him. This particular interview was pretty cool in that he got to talk to the interviewers in pers rather than simply sending in digital images. This is an awesome way to do it! He not only showed them framed and matted images, but also several photos, a CD that he designed and made the music for, and an short film that he made with his own music in the background. 

Blue Joseph, self portrait by Joseph MacGown
Saturday morn was a continuation of sorts for Joseph, as he attended an Academic Insight event at MSU at the College of Art, Architecture, and Design. They had some folks talking about the program here and various opportunities that are available. Unfortunately, the visit did not include a comprehensive tour of the facilities, nor were many of the faculty on hand for the visit. Even so, he said he enjoyed it. 

Joseph has lots of ideas, and has been making the most of his free time lately creating music and art. He is talking about writing a couple of books, one a poetry type deal, and the other an art book. Cool. He is really starting to develop his own style lately, and is sketching and otherwise engaged in doing some type of art much of the time. I like the way he is going. He is not trying to do things in somebody else's style, and he is not worried about trying to making something look exactly like reality. His art is more emotional, visceral. Get a feeling of something, get it down. And weird, he is a weird dude. I can relate to that. 

One of several of Joseph's quick weird sketches