Last week I attended the 2016 West Virginia Art Education Conference with my friends David Modler and Sam Peck. It was the first time in years that I attended any kind of art education conference, however Dave invited me to come along and check it out. When I saw that it would be held at the Resort at Glade Springs, in Daniels, WV, it was a no-brainer. Yes, it was a bit of a drive, but I was in the company of friends who I don't get much of a chance to hang out with, so why not? I met up with Dave the day before the conference, and was invited to join his education students at Shepherd University, for a lino-cut print-making session. It was the first lino-cut I had made in some time, and proved to be slightly difficult but fun. It actually made me want to get back into printing with linoleum more often (above image). The great thing is, my print, along with those made by his students, will be included as part of a much bigger, nationwide art project!
On the first day of the conference, I packed my day with workshops, all of which were held by Dave and Sam. They focused on the Tet(R)ad project that they started together a few years back, as well as the Journal Fodder Junkies project, started by Dave and Eric Scott several years ago. It was great seeing them present, as they did an excellent job relaying the concepts and stories that support the utilization of the visual journal in life, in the classroom and in personal artistic practice. Much of the inspiration can be attributed to the late Dan Eldon, who was a pioneer of sorts, in the use of visual journals as a daily practice. I feel like I got a lot out of the workshops, as did the folks who attended them, however, by the end of that day, we were all pretty exhausted.
I decided to keep the most of the second day of the conference open to explore and do whatever I wanted to. I felt extremely fortunate to have experienced such gorgeous weather over the duration of our stay, despite some heavy rainfall on the trip to and from. A highlight from my last full day at Glade Springs was taking full advantage of the beautiful Autumn weather and going for a hike along the trails of the resort. I'm a firm believer in balancing work with equal amounts of rest and leisure, and allowing some time to recharge and let the mind wander. Still, however, Dave and I ended up going out later that evening to an art exhibit at the Beckley Art Center, in neighboring Beckley, WV to check out a teacher and student show, as well as an exhibit called "Appalachian Gothic", featuring the work of artists from the area. For me, a couple standouts adhering to the theme were by artist Jamie Powers. His paintings "Veggie Man" and "Tortured Should of McDowell County" were my personal favorites, which I found quite fitting for Halloween, which was right around the corner (above and below pics).
On Sunday, Dave and I hit the road and headed home, while Sam had to leave us a day early for other obligations. We ended up stopping in the charming historic town of Lexington, Virginia, where we met up with Eric at a little boutique shop called Gladiola Girls. While there, Dave took down some art he had on display, then Eric replaced the emptied walls with his own work, now currently hanging in the shop. I love it when small and independent businesses are willing to work with the local community and support the work of artists and makers within their general vicinity. While the shop is already a cool place to visit, the art adds yet another layer of visual interest (above and below pics).
After hanging some art, we all stopped by The Palms for a bite to eat. There's something for everyone in this unique, historic restaurant, and the food was nothing short of tasty. They also serve some excellent craft beers. Highly recommended.
After attending the WVAEA Conference, I felt surprisingly refreshed upon returning to the art classroom, and a boost in enthusiasm for teaching, which can tend to lag around this time of year.
One highlight this week was the return of acclaimed Nigerian artist and musician, Tunde Odunlade, to my school. Hearing Tunde speak and engage the students with his words and his work is always a treat, and the kids adore him. Having Tunde come by also make me excited about creating more art more often. The good news is that Tunde will be at the Reston Town Center this Sunday, from 2-5pm at the Living Threads Company, where he'll be playing some music and selling some of his artwork!