With the opening of its new show, Nuances: Shades of Difference, at the Indigo Sky Gallery, the Creative Force Collective, an affiliation of over a dozen local artists, is setting out to challenge the perception of the arts in Savannah.
While no one would argue that Savannah isn’t artistically inclined – one is hard pressed to find a restaurant or coffee shop that isn’t exhibiting work from a local artist – the members of the CFC see a niche that isn’t being filled; one where visual art isn’t dictated by the tastes of the market or used as a backdrop to conversation and cappuccino. What is missing is a place where local artists can express themselves freely, without commercial pressure, a place that encourages creativity for its own sake.
“Things have been kind of bottled up here for a long time,” explains Jerome Meadows, the owner of Indigo Sky and a member of the CFC. “Galleries tend to define what the arts are, and most of those are SCAD related or commercially driven, or eateries.”
About a year ago, at another opening in his gallery, Meadows was talking with several local artists about how nice it was to have so much creative energy in the same room, and all agreed that it would be nice to take a pro–active step toward encouraging it to happen more often.
“We all tend to get together and gripe about the limitations of Savannah,” says Meadows. “We decided rather than to continue griping, we would get together and see if we could do something about it.”
After an initial meeting last year to discuss how to move forward, the group set out creating a series of ambitious shows, including the Seeing Sounds exhibit at the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery, where the audience watched as artists created work live with musical accompaniment, and a large installation featured in this year’s Telfair Art Fair.
According to Meadows, that’s when “insanity sunk in,” and rather than focus solely on the Telfair installation, the group decided to create Nuances, which was curated by CFC member Harry Dean, and open it the same night as the Art Fair.
Although the group is still relatively new, and would seem to want to celebrate its unity – to further define itself – the point of the show is to celebrate the diversity of the artists in the collective and in Savannah.
The goal for the show is “to showcase the wealth and breadth of creativity that exists in Savannah that tends to get overshadowed by market concerns,” Meadows explains.
The "differences" evoked in the shows title are not necessarily the differences in medium, age or style found between the collective’s members however. The point of the show is to demonstrate how even artists who might be known for specific traits also create work that defies their own portfolio, and simultaneously the art market that seeks to define them.
Nuances, which is open through Dec. 6, moves from pastoral nature scenes intersecting with man–made structures to medium–driven pieces such as one by Bob Newman – a continuous line demonstrating how far one can go with the contents of a single pen. These works mingle with sculptures, mixed–medium allegories about war, and paintings, some more traditional than others.
Featuring work from Imke Lass, Judy Mooney, Phil Starks and Pat Walker, to name just a few, the subjects move from abstract to concrete, and although the show lacks a cohesive thematic between the works themselves, it is a potent testimony to the incredible artistic energy that exists in the city.
The exhibit will conclude with an open forum on Dec. 5, from 3–5 p.m., where the artists can discuss their work with the public.
“We are discouraging the notion that the market expects you to do one thing and that’s all that you do,” says Meadows. “In reality most artists do a variety of things – so this is an opportunity to discuss why there’s this range of creative voice.”
Nuances: Shades of Difference
Where: Indigo Sky Gallery, 915 Waters Ave.
When: Runs through Dec. 6 with a panel discussion Dec. 5 from 3–5 p.m.