mississippi

Sculpture

Vignette: Mack Dryden

You may have heard of Mack Dryden the professional comedian, actor, and public speaker, but in recent years he has embraced a new creative outlet: sculpture made from driftwood.

"Water Dance" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood & poplar, 2017, POR

"Water Dance" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood & poplar, 2017, POR

What Dryden calls, “this new, odd passion” has its roots in his experiences as a reporter for a daily newspaper, which included illustrating his own stories. He was good enough to eventually make a living as a freelancer in Key West drawing cartoon advertising art. In 2010, he moved to Louisville after living for several years in Los Angeles.

“I’ve been handy all my adult life,” claims Dryden, “ and have made loads of furniture and other practical things. So this melding of my love of working wood and creating a pleasing composition is kind of a natural progression. As I write this, the Ohio is so high from recent rains that the banks are under ten feet of water in places that usually yield beautiful finds.  I’m counting the days until the water recedes, revealing what mother lode of masterpieces it has brought me this time.”

“The first time I walked, crawled and climbed through the tons of driftwood deposited on the banks of the park, I marveled at the treasures that were there for the taking. I found gorgeous pieces that had been sculpted by the environment where they’d grown, reduced to their essence by their journeys downriver, and burnished by the elements until they became—to my aesthetic—finished pieces of art. I saw no reason to try to improve on their inherent beauty, but rather was inspired to find ways to reveal it to the world.”

“I was encouraged when my very first attempt was juried onto our front porch by my wife Teri, an accomplished abstract artist who doesn’t curate casually.”

"Black Water Chorale" by Mack Dryden,Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Black Water Chorale" by Mack Dryden,Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

“Curious about what might be inside some of the pieces I brought home, I ripped a few on my table saw and found spectacular colors and grains. After a couple of early experiments, I kicked myself for using tinted stains and resolved to use only clear products that would enhance the natural colors of the wood.”   

Dryden’s description of his journey of creative discovery succinctly answers the question, what does it mean when an artist labels themselves “self-taught”? He has entered a genre that is an easy target for high-minded critics, but it seems to be exactly the point for Dryden. “I happened on a photo of what I considered a hideous driftwood chandelier, it inspired me to try to make a beautiful one.”  

Dryden’s chandeliers now hang in half a dozen shops, restaurants and bars in the Louisville area, and he has had his work featured in several locations:  

The Outsider Art Fair, New York City, 2016
Art Santa Fe, NM, 2017Craft(s) Gallery, Louisville, KY
Revelry Boutique Gallery, Louisville, KYTrue North, New Albany, IN
Madison Table Works, Madison, IN
Great Flood Brewing Company, Louisville, KY

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Hometown: Pascagoula, Mississippi
Education: BA, English and Journalism,University of Mississippi (Ole Miss); MFA, Creative Writing at the Center For Writers, University of Southern Mississippi
Website: Riverborneart.com

Scroll down for more images

"Six-Mile Island" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR 

"Six-Mile Island" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR 

"Bayou Bash" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River Driftwood,  2017, POR

"Bayou Bash" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River Driftwood,  2017, POR

"Jitterbug" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Jitterbug" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Inside Out" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR

"Inside Out" by Mack Dryden, Ohio River driftwood, 2017, POR


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting

Vignette: Elsie Harris

Elsie Harris in her studio. Photo by Ayla Christman.

Elsie Harris in her studio. Photo by Ayla Christman.

People born and raised in Appalachia often speak of a connection with the land that sounds unique to that experience. Certainly they have no monopoly on such appreciation for nature, and the pastoral figures in the biographies of a wide variety of artists, but the eastern region that stretch from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia has a cultural identification with environment that sets it apart from other areas.

Elsie Harris is one such artist. Claiming a life-long connection to the land: “As a child I would wander into the woods and sit on a hilltop to innately be a part of it…mountains, rocks, creeks and hillside ridges. It is where I find both joy and serenity,” she sketches areas that attract her attention, and translates those studies onto canvas, using heightened color to capture the experience of being on the site. This emphasis on subjective emotion places her firmly in the expressionist camp, yet there remains some degree of attachment to the realism, and a sense of place.

"Radiance" by Elsie Harris, 32x40in, acrylic on canvas, $1100 |  BUY NOW

"Radiance" by Elsie Harris, 32x40in, acrylic on canvas, $1100 | BUY NOW

“My intention then was to push the edges, processes and limits of realism with color, configuration and composition while still being faithful to an original image. For me it is a magical intimacy – a spiritual consciousness – one with nature – that is the message in my work.”

You can currently find Harris’s work in two Kentucky galleries: CRAFT(s) Gallery, 572 South Fourth Street, Louisville, and Art of Danville Gallery, 413 West Main Street, Danville. 

Harris' work is seen in many corporate acquisitions and personal collections both here and abroad. Her paintings have also been included in various juried and invitational exhibits across the nation, and she has been commissioned to produce paintings and graphics for numerous organizations. She has worked as a graphic artist with Kentucky Educational Television, and has been involved in an administration capability with many arts organizations and agencies in Kentucky.

"Falling Tree" by Elsie Harris, 30x32in, acrylic on canvas, $760 |  BUY NOW

"Falling Tree" by Elsie Harris, 30x32in, acrylic on canvas, $760 | BUY NOW

Exhibits - Invitational:
Hunt Morgan House: Art Connects, Lexington, KY, 2016
KY Crafted: Breeders Cup Exhibition, Lexington, KY, 2015
Coop; Sale: Group Exhibit and sale, 2015
Grid: Creativity by the Square Foot, New Editions Gallery, Lexington, KY, 2015
Gallery on Main, Richmond, KY, 2014
KY Guild of Artist/Craftsmen, Berea, KY, 2014
LexArts, ArtsPlace Gallery, Lexington, KY, 2014

Recent Exhibits:
At the Rivers Bend, Evansville Museum, 2016
OH + 5 2016, Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, OH, 2016
Visions at the Capital Fifty/50, 2016
2016 Horizon: Contemporary Landscape exhibition, 2016
Appalachian Artist Guild National Juried Show, Blue Ridge, GA, 2011, 2014
OH+5, Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, OH, 2013, 2015

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Education: BA, Fine Art, University of Kentucky; AA, Fine Art, Sullins Junior College
Website: http://www.elsieharris.com

"Whispering Hills" by Elsie Harris, 30x32in, acrylic on canvas, $850 |  BUY NOW

"Whispering Hills" by Elsie Harris, 30x32in, acrylic on canvas, $850 | BUY NOW

"Sunshine In" by Elsie Harris, 30x40in, acrylic on canvas, $1050 |  BUY NOW

"Sunshine In" by Elsie Harris, 30x40in, acrylic on canvas, $1050 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved

Are you interested in being on Artebella?  Click here  to learn more.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.