Pop! Downtown Greensboro, Spring 2014
downtown Greensboro’s blues-inspired storefront window art installation series that was on view from mid-March through May 2014
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Eight artists developed new work to celebrate the blues, an iconic sound that took hold in the south and influenced music around the world. Placed in storefront windows throughout downtown Greensboro, the art installations are inspired by a range of ideas from abstract impressions of the music to local stories that will inspire new songs.
Beka Butts and Cassandra Liuzzo bridged the past, present and future of the blues with a multi-tiered installation that contributed to a historic, but often-untold narrative about female blues musicians. Entitled Mother Blues, it featured portraits of female musicians set in a background inspired by the traditional altars of Dia de los Muertos. Butts and Liuzoo told the story of southern blues through symbols and artifacts from the iconic flower of the magnolia tree to a vinyl record sculpture. Previously on view at 124 N Davie St. across from the Greensboro Cultural Center. Winner of a Juror’s Choice Award!
Accumulation in Blue presented by Elsewhere was at the Guilford Building, 301 S Elm Street, and featured the gradual amassing of vintage and thrift objects from the collection of Greensboro’s own living museum. The installation grew from single objects placed in the jewel box window to a densely packed field of blue. Winner of a Juror’s Choice Award!
Inspired by the remarkable influence blues has on so much of our popular music, artist Carl Mize depicted the transformative moment “the blues moved uptown!” The installation featured a jazz and blues club circa 1930 – warm lighting, sparkling mirrors, and a singer at the microphone and a live model stepped in for special downtown events! It was located at 317 S Elm Street.
Artist Ted Efremoff with performer David Fox and artist Julia Fergus collaborated to create Healing Blues. Part installation, part performance, and part concept album, this artist group recorded stories of struggle from people who are experiencing a need. Anyone could come to their storefront coffee shops hosted at Elsewhere (606 S Elm Street) and share their stories, which were then recorded and turned into original blues songs. The storefront window installation at Mosaic Piano Services, Inc., 612 S Elm Street, reflected the stories and evolving process as the group created an album, Healing Blues due out later in 2014. Winner of Juror’s Choice Award. Visit their Facebook Page for updates on the album.
Long Forgotten Blues, an installation by artist Seth Ellis, juxtaposed Greensboro’s real history as a 20th century urban center with the fictional tale of a blues clarinet player who makes a deal – he received musical talent, but in return was destined for a life of obscurity. The installation featured video, text, prints, and objects that bring to life a history of urbanization and the blues and was on view at 513 S Elm Street.
Artist Terry Hardy presented There’ll Come A Time a simple scene of uprooted trees over mounds of soil captured the development of blues from southern fieldworkers to urban laborers. Through this work, Hardy “addressed the uprootedness often associated with this music genre while calling attention to the instability and longing of the worker and musician for a better place.” Previously on view at the Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N Davie St. in the hallway across from Europa Bar & Cafe.
Artist Gracelee Lawrence literally traced the legacies of North Carolina natives Etta Baker and Elizabeth Cotten through a series of blind contour drawings in her piece Etta & Elizabeth. “This process partially abstracts the experience of each woman yet maintains the gestural energy of each history.” Layering the images in a glowing cube, Lawrence created “low-tech holograms” representing each woman and her story. The installation was located next door to Showfety’s at 122 E Market St. Winner of a Juror’s Choice Award.
On view at Scuppernong Books (304 S Elm St.), Deanna Watson’s Local Blues portrait series highlighted prominent Greensboro blues musicians, capturing a moment as each person performs. Watson compared her medium, portraiture, to the blues, saying both “evoke the past while never becoming irrelevant to the present.”
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Pop! Downtown Greensboro is produced in collaboration with Downtown Greensboro, Inc.