09/11/13 — Letting the paint fly

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Letting the paint fly

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 11, 2013 1:46 PM

Letting the jazz music move them, local residents helped create a Jackson Pollock-style abstract painting during the Arts Council of Wayne County's First Friday event Friday.

While a variety of jazz music played in the background, those attending had the opportunity to grab some paint and work their own magic on a three by five foot canvas.

One of the painters was 29-year-old Andre Selby, who went because of the atmosphere and to look at the new artwork at the Arts Council.

"The Jackson Pollock-style painting was a very fun exercise," he said. "I just added some green, splattering it across the canvas. I just went with the flow. This was my first time doing anything like this and it was pretty fun."

But he was nervous while doing it.

"I know it's an abstract painting, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do," Selby said. "But I had a great time doing it. Looking at it, I don't know if I would do anything different."

Selby said he liked the idea of getting a bunch of people together to work on a community project.

"It's awesome, amazing," he said.

When Sharon Arita and her 18-year-old daughter, Sequilla, saw the event advertised in the newspaper, they knew they had to go.

"I wanted to do it because we love jazz and the artist who did it, Jackson Pollock, was a very inspiring artist," Sharon said.

The 48-year-old dotted, swirled and flicked gold and pink onto the canvas.

Sequilla added her own special touches using a variety of colors -- purple, pink, teal, yellow and gold. She put her fingerprints on the canvas with the paint and sometimes smeared the colors.

"I'm just doing whatever the music tells me to," she said. "I think it's a very good experience to be able to take jazz and painting and link it together."

Although 74-year-old Thomas Krasowski didn't help paint the mural, he came to see what others were doing.

"Jackson Pollock was a genius because he broke through," Krasowski said. "He did abstract art in New York."

Pollock is just one of Krasowski's favorite painters. Others include Picasso and Max Ernst. His favorite art period is Dada.

"I go on the Internet and read about artists' history, type of art, where went to school, where died, where buried, etc.," Krasowski said. "I always check into an artist very thoroughly."

Krasowski went to First Friday to "mingle with my own kind. I come here now and then. I have some work displayed here."

Arts Council director Sarah Merritt said the art project was part of a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, which allows it to do programming related to jazz.

Local residents will have the opportunity to create three more panels, which will be hung outside the Arts Council and maybe displayed at local businesses downtown.

"It's based on Jackson Pollock, who was an abstract expressionist born around 1912, who died in 1956 in a car accident," Mrs. Merritt said.

"He was a very talented artist, who got his training during the Depression. He gained notoriety when he started doing the technique we're doing tonight, which is his drip technique, a form of action painting. Basically he would get these huge canvases and open up a can of paint and turn on some music and just start dripping rhythmically around the canvas. Like dancing on the canvas."

Mrs. Merritt said although Pollock received a lot of criticism at first, over time people recognized his technique and today his art sells for hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Pollock painted while playing jazz music and that's what we did tonight," she said. "We thought it would be fun to get people involved in the project and I'm happy people came out tonight to do this."

First Friday is an event the Arts Council has begun holding every month, from 5 to 8 p.m., with various activities scheduled, since it moved into its John Street location. Refreshments are served.

On Oct. 4, those attending will have the opportunity to create another Jackson Pollock-style canvas.