IN EXCITING news for lovers of accessible art, Sulfur Art Services has resurrected the Drive Thru Art Box behind Green Truck Pub.
The Drive Thru Art Box was started in 2012 by SeeSAW, or See Savannah Art Walls, a public art initiative. Mike Williams, a founding member, recently passed away.
Now, his friend, artist David Hutchinson, honors his memory with the first installation in the Drive Thru Art Box.
“All Things Are the Phoenix” is an assemblage of found objects, including some of Williams’ own items. Hutchinson is a talented multimedia artist who has done the space a great justice.
We talked with Hutchinson last week.
1. How did you get involved with this project?
I’ve been friends with A.J. [of Sulfur] forever, and I knew about the little art installations going on at the Drive Thru Art box I guess years ago. It was kind of under the radar, I think.
Mike Williams was an artist in town who did an installation in one of the art boxes a long time ago, and he died about five months ago. He was a very unique individual. I got some elements of some of his art—he had these bundles of sticks and he’d manicure them. I incorporated that into my installation to bring it full circle and pay a little homage to Mike himself. He was very opinionated and very honest about his feelings and his art, and he never was one to mince words as far as what he thought.
2. What’s your art like?
I do many things. I paint signs. I studied graphic design a long time ago. I lived in New York and had six art shows in five years when I lived there. I do paintings and stencil work and multimedia stuff. I also collect a lot of things, like found objects, and one thing I do with found objects is I make shrines. So I took a collection of found objects that hadn’t been used anywhere else before, and I put them together and spent some time thinking about the proximity of how everything would be laid out.
So I repurpose a lot of things, and I incorporated it all together and did it on the fly. I love making stuff, I love making art. It’s fun, and if you have that proclivity, I totally am all about it.
3. Tell me about your past art experience in New York.
I was working in the art industry. All my friends were artists and I had three solo shows and three group shows. I was really hanging out with a bunch of proactively artistic people and we had a good core group, so we were all pushing each other. I lived there from 1998 to 2003. During that period of time, we were always motivating each other to do more. None of us were aspiring to be the next big thing.
I worked in high-end museums, I worked in print galleries, as a curatorial assistant, all that stuff. It was a great job to have because I got to see the really high-end stuff and handle it and install it, but that was never my aspiration, nor any of my friends’. They were doing it because they loved to create. It was a good time to be there, but at a certain point I was tired of being cold.
4. What was the transition like moving from New York’s art scene to Savannah’s?
I saw a lot of potential in Savannah. I think it’s still evolving, but I saw there were all these niches that could be filled, all this potential even beyond SCAD. I didn’t go to SCAD, I appreciate what they do for this town, but there’s a ton of art besides SCAD.
I think the local connectivity has a lot to do with that. It’s the right size. I think Savannah is entirely unique in that people know each other, they help each other, they encourage each other. There’s still some love in the community, and that’s what speaks to me. I’m encouraged every day by what goes down in Savannah.
5. Mike was part of SeeSAW. Can you speak to the public art situation here in Savannah?
I think even though we don’t have those free graf spots, or Matt [Hebermehl] and Troy [Wandzel] were always fighting for more public accessible spots, we have stuff that’s so close to the surface artistically that it’s almost okay, because Troy can do a pop-up gallery show in a little car wash and it’s so pedestrian. People are going to walk by it and connect with it. That connectivity makes it a little more okay that there’s not as much public art because there’s so much connectivity, it’s public anyway. Savannah is small enough where if something is going on, it’s public knowledge. That’s why I love the size of this place.