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Headin’ to the Jepson

Papier-mache, U.S. currency, cigarette paper, magazine cutouts, handmade paper, acrylic, tape, confetti, acrylic polymer medium, various papers, wood structure. These random items are just a few of the long list of reasons to drop everything and head straight for the Jepson Center.

They’re also the materials used by Marcus Kenney in “Young Americans,” a three-dimensional sculpture depicting a young boy and girl, part of Kenney’s Topics in American History exhibit at the Jepson. The show just opened and will be up until September 16, but the collection of about 30 mixed-media paintings and sculptures has so much happening that it compels many visits, so go now to get a head start.

Other reasons to make a beeline for the museum are two exhibits that close this week. Saturday, July 8 is the last day of Nancy Hooten’s Telling Tales, a collection of her hand-beaded artwork. On July 11, the 2007 Master Artist Photography Camp group show will come down after a too-short run. The three shows, reflecting the work of three generations of Savannah-based artists, confirm that this city is a Petrie dish for artistic creativity.

Hooten’s show could be subtitled “Hauntings” for its brutally honest and exquisitely crafted revelations of a Southern woman’s life shot through with love, religion, fear, and family.

The photography exhibit is the work of students aged 10 to 16 who participated in this year’s Telfair Photo Camp, artfully reflecting what catches the eye of Savannah’s teen spirit.

Kenney’s show of work from 2000 through the present has been gathered from collectors across the country.

“US,” created especially for this show, is Kenney’s installation of hundreds of plaster-cast babies proceeding up the Jepson’s central staircase. Just giving “US” the attention it demands will devour a huge chunk of parking meter time.

Kiera McLean’s job as a security officer at the Jepson affords her the opportunity to give each of these exhibits close examination. During her shift in the Kenney show, she lingered in front of “Young Americans.”

“The clothes are made out of money and the skin made out of cigarettes,” said McLean. “It’s so true. I’m so grateful the schools went to uniforms. ‘Mom, he’s got Air Jordans. Mom, he’s got an I-pod.’”

Always,” a mixed media painting, depicts a Beaver Cleaver-type family enjoying a soda and a snack. “Coca Cola and popcorn,” said McLean. “The past and the future. After we’re gone [Coke] will still be here.”

Still hunting for reasons to visit the Jepson? On Saturday, July 14, Kenney will lead a workshop for teens and adults on making collage images, and Sandy Branam will teach a drawing class in conjunction with yet another Jepson show, New Direction in American Drawing. Both free classes require advanced registration by contacting 790-8823 or stifelt@telfair.org.

The rockets’ red glare

If rain or traffic prevented you from seeing July 4th fireworks, there are plenty more opportunities this summer for oooohing and aaaaahing, starting with this Friday night, July 6. After every Friday home game, the Savannah Sand Gnats minor league baseball team sponsors a fireworks show at Grayson Stadium that’s visible from all over midtown.

Daffin Park’s large open playing field west of the stadium offers an unobstructed view of the fireworks with very little street light glare to detract from the sparkly splendor. The timing of the show takes some guesswork—will the game go into extra innings?—but many Friday nights find a handful of people in lawn chairs on the field, enjoying the show.

Yes, it’s noisy, and the bombs bursting in air have probably awakened a child or two in the neighborhood over the years. But in nearly six years of filling the Auntie Mame role for the children living in Parkside Neighborhood’s “kids’ block” I’ve never heard a parent complain about the noise.

One Friday night last month, the fireworks’ booms lured several 50th Street neighbors out onto our sidewalks, sparking an impromptu visit as we watched the spectacle over the tops of the sweet gum trees. As the fireworks finale sprayed across the sky, a Jeep pulled up in front of my house, delivering to my doorstep a steaming hot pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Pizza Rustica. Fireworks and pizza—yep, this is the good life.

E-mail Robin at rgunnsav@bellsouth.net

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Robin Wright Gunn

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