Art All Around
Season 8 Episode 2 | 26m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
Join us as we uncover the inspiration behind art across the state.
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Season 8 Episode 2 | 26m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
Join us as we uncover the inspiration behind art across the state.
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
[piano intro] [upbeat music] - [Narrator] They say art is in the eye of the beholder and we have so much for you to see.
[upbeat music continues] We explore inspiring and groundbreaking art across the state.
Join us as we uncover the stories behind beautiful works and meet the artists who inspire us every day.
It's all on "My Home".
[nostalgic bluegrass music] - All across the state, we're uncovering the unique stories that make North Carolina my home.
♪ Come home ♪ ♪ Come home ♪ [nostalgic bluegrass music fades] [upbeat music] You think about, you know, when people see your pieces, obviously they think that you're a glass god in some ways.
They see it and they're just like, this is amazing.
- I consider what I do to be totally different.
I take a lot of pride in that and when people like it, that's icing on the cake for me.
I don't consider myself to be a glass god by any stretch of the imagination.
But, you know, if my work gives people joy, then I'm happy.
[upbeat music] My name's Ronnie Hughes and my home is here in Laurel Springs, North Carolina.
[torch blowing] [upbeat music continues] Me getting into art was really a surprise to me.
I really didn't feel like I had an artistic bone in my body until I found glass.
[warm instrumental music] And this is my wife, Chris.
Chris is more than my right hand.
She's absolutely essential for what I do.
Chris winds up doing probably everything but the glass.
[warm instrumental music continues] - And so what are you thinking about making today?
- What I'm thinking about working on is the blossom for Jack in the pulpit.
Oh, it's one of my favorite, it's one of my sentimental favorite flowers to work on.
[warm instrumental music continues] Glass and wildflowers just are such a natural match for each other.
The glass has that built-in metaphor of being fragile, delicate, you know, which of course goes right along with the flowers.
I'm never bored because there's always, the next flower has always got some challenges in store for me.
[intense music] Propane doesn't make the flame hot enough.
You have to add pure oxygen into the flame.
Now, that raises the temperature of the flame up to about 3,000 degrees.
[intense music continues] - Can you see the flower in your head?
[blowtorch crackles sharply] [Heather laughs] - Sorry, sorry.
[groovy upbeat music] If it's a flower that I've made in the past, I've usually got a pretty good memory of how to get back to the anatomy of a flower.
[groovy upbeat music continues] Some of them are really hard to do, some of them just drive me crazy.
I've had some flowers that it took me as long as, oh, five or six years before I finally got the handle.
[groovy upbeat music continues] It still happens after 40 years, I still get burns every once in a while.
Usually not very severe.
[gentle music] It's nice to wake up in a peaceful place and not have a whole lot of traffic noise.
[gentle music continues] I didn't really do anything with wildflowers until I was in about my fifth year of blowing glass and I got bored one day and just went out for a hike, and I found myself in the field of about 200 pink lady slippers.
[gentle music continues] My jaw dropped open the first thing and it wasn't long before I realized, you know, I'm going to have to make one of these.
[uplifting music] I can start off with just the blossom.
I can work from that and then just kinda make the sculpture grow.
[uplifting music continues] - I think it's good for people to be able to see what he creates.
And they just love it.
It's like an experience to see things that are unimaginable.
[uplifting music continues] - We'll get people who come into the booth and sometimes they're moved to tears.
I mean, as an artist that puts me, you know, I'm floating.
[uplifting music winds down] And if it gives them joy, that gives me joy.
[music fades] [rain splattering] - You look at the representations that we have of ourselves, it's not that Black people are depicted as joyous and positive and in these great family situations.
Like, media doesn't throw that back at us.
Media throws us images of us in pain, images of us disjointed.
The thing I can do is paint.
[soulful R&B music] My visual medium is able to help remedy that.
Creating this positive imagery is wildly important because of the fact that it's something that influences people without them understanding it.
[soulful R&B music continues] Positive imagery of people of Color, when I say that, I want Black kids in particular to see themselves uplifted in my works and find a piece of that that resonates for them.
[soulful R&B music continues] [music cuts to silence] [mellow hiphop music] I got started as an artist because I had two sisters.
My older sister started drawing and I wanted to beat her.
I kept drawing and she stopped, and it was something that I was good at, but it wasn't something that I was more serious about until the eighth grade.
In particular, I am a product of a single mother who was determined to give me and my sisters the world.
She was this strong woman and it was a strong woman for these three girls and nothing was impossible.
The inspiration in my work comes from a lot of different places.
In my work, you see a lot of women.
There's so many women in my work, and actually I just had the fortunate situation of it being the perfect storm of there were women in the neighborhood who, they were strong women who could do anything, who were around me, who were the ones who set my worldview.
So I have this deep appreciation for women, for the female form.
[mellow hiphop music] [music cuts] The reason why I'm so excited about public art is because it's not that people have to go seek out my stuff to go find it.
People think of art, I think in a lot of ways they think of it as expendable.
They say, ah, you know, art is is not really that important, but not understanding that there are ways in which we interpret the world through the lens of those things.
So there are things we learn about ourselves by our interactions with art, and so for it to be that my art is in a space for that, that's phenomenal.
[soft rock music] It's important for me to be able to create these works that represent the history of North Carolina.
These important and vibrant lives of people who are important to the state.
[soft rock music continues] I was commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to make a portrait of Nina Simone.
Nina Simone is a jazz and blues singer from Tryon, North Carolina.
She's an important part of jazz history, and her trials and tribulations were because she was Black.
And that painting is the face of the campaign to raise funds to restore Nina Simone's childhood home.
To show this history of North Carolina to be something that is raising funds for such a noble cause, it's exciting because my art is for feeling, healing or celebrating, right?
For me, the role that art has played has been those things and that's the most important moments that I've had in relation to my art with people are those things, right?
In addition to feeling or healing or celebrating, there's also learning or exposure, right?
So exposure to this concept of you as a person being great.
When I did "Your Are My Sunshine" and I did "Now I lay Me Down To Sleep", somebody told me that they had taken those books and put them away for when they have children in the future.
And it was one of those moments that stopped me I was so grateful for, because that means that in the future, they're gonna pull these books out and they'll read these to their kids.
And when they're kids, they're adults, and they have their own children, they'll think of this book that I illustrated.
This thing of "You Are My Sunshine" with these smiling Black faces and it'll be something that shapes how they see themselves for the rest of their life.
[pensive music] The blessing I have in my life is that I've been allowed to be exactly who I am.
It's important for me to live my life as myself, because there are other people in the world who can't.
They don't have the freedom to do just that.
[soulful world music] I get to be visible to some little kid who says, okay, well, I see her living exactly as she chooses to and I can not only do that as well when I grow up and I'm allowed to make my own decisions, but I can do great things too.
[soulful world music] [music cuts] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [glass cutter zings] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [taps glass sharply] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [glass snaps] [vibrant world music] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [vibrant world music continues] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [vibrant world music continues] - Life is built with different pieces and we are going to break many times.
It's always our choice to take those pieces and create to yourself your masterpiece.
[vibrant world music] [music fades] [ethereal music] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [ethereal music continues] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [ethereal music] [gentle instrumental music] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] I find out that art not just can help me, it was saving my life.
[gentle instrumental music] - Edwin's art is important, not just 'cause it's very good, but it also sort of speaks to and captures the emotion and the beauty of the times we're living in.
He does these social civic projects.
He works with kids, he does the diversity initiatives.
He's engaged in the community in a variety of ways to make Charlotte and North Carolina a better place.
- Through art, we can create kind of that bridge that can help communities to understand.
So I do different social projects The latest project is called "Faces of Diversity".
"Faces of Diversity" basically is a social art initiative that attempts, breaks, stereotypes through art.
[gentle instrumental music continues] - You need to be able not only to get along with one another, but to support one another, appreciate one another.
Everybody is important in our world and our responsibility is to develop the best us, each and every one of us, that we can.
This represents an opportunity for them to learn insight into the life of an artist, to be inspired by the story that he told them about his life.
- Not many people know the importance of diversity.
I really like positive movement, the diversity that he's, like what he's trying to show.
[gentle instrumental music] - People have, especially kids have a strange relationship to art in that they like what they see and they don't have pre-judgment about it, but they don't really know why.
And the more kids especially can relate to the world through art, they learn about concepts like beauty and emotion and honesty and truth.
[gentle instrumental music continues] - This is my first year as a teacher in Providence Day and I see so many beautiful people here with a very interesting perception of life.
And that inspires me as a teacher because I think art helps us to dream.
And I think dreaming is essential in the evolution of the humans.
- So I think the thing that I learned most from Mr. Gil, it's how to be a better person.
That he taught me so much about being kind to others and just how to be a better person.
- I love art because it takes me to a whole nother place and it makes me happy and calm, and it's like my ideas just come out onto like paper or canvas.
It makes me happy.
- I think art's important because it helps us communicate and no matter what your language is, everyone can relate to art.
[gentle music continues] - Edwin's Art is a bridge, because art is just simply communication.
And the more we have unifying factors, whether it's art or politics or whatever, that bring people together, the community really needs more of that and that's what Edwin's art does.
It's a unifying force in a world that is less and less unified.
[gentle music fades] [pensive instrumental music] - This is one of my Faces of Diversity.
We call it the "Face of the Pride in Charlotte".
What is important for me personally, because as a gay man, I pass through so many things and I feel the rejection of of people.
So it's painful because it's a lot of humans, they still don't understand what is being gay.
Living through the example, I want to inspire other people that maybe are still in the closet because they don't feel support from their own family and their own communities.
And, I think, as many other things we choose to become what we want to do, right?
I think it was a big reflection for myself to the community to feel proud about what I am.
[Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [Edwin speaks in Spanish] [music fades] [machine rattles] [gentle atmospheric music] [power tool buzzes] - Hey, that's a good sound.
- [Clark] Yeah, it is.
[man laughs] - You know I always hold my breath when we plug it in.
There's that little pause.
[footsteps walking] [cover snaps shut] [gentle atmospheric music fades] [groovy music] - That first machine, I found it, someone gave it to me, I converted it in a basement.
And it was based on a friend of mine who had a Pavlovian reaction to snack wrappers.
So when he'd hear a crinkle of cellophane, he would go get a pack of nabs out of the vending machine.
[groovy music continues] So the original is at a coffee shop here in town.
It was one of 13 pieces in this art show and I was selling some of my leftover photographs for a dollar each.
A lot of that stuff ended up in dumpsters that wasn't very sellable, but I enjoyed the concept.
Once it was there, the owner wouldn't let me take it.
[coins rattling] So at that point, I knew that something was going on here.
I was like, needs to be other art in it as well, not just mine.
I can't keep it filled.
So the project went from a me to a we.
And it became the first Art-o-Mat.
After that first machine was set up, we started working with people who wanted to have a machine in their venue or artists who wanted to be involved.
Twenty-two years later, we get art in every day.
We get orders in almost every day.
Hard to move around the boxes.
We're already asking artists to create something a certain size, so it's very specific as far as what will go into the machines.
Content-wise, it should be a small entry level piece into the artist's work.
Every once in a while an artist would just show up, it's like, wow, that is amazing.
[upbeat music] It just floors us.
[upbeat music continues] The VIN price is $5.
We're filling the void of the stigma of art being for rich people.
We're just making it accessible.
We want art to be in people's hands.
[upbeat music continues] I find these machines mostly up and down the East Coast.
I've snagged most of the machines here in North Carolina.
I'm the only one that wants them, other than people who wanna crush them.
Nowadays people will approach me and say, have this machine, do you want it?
[warm atmospheric music] So if potato chips were banned in '97, I might be using snack machines, but that's not the case.
These machines were banned so miners couldn't buy cigarettes from them.
And they pretty much became scrap metal at that point and they were just showing up.
It's a very suitable place to store these machines 'cause this used to be a large tobacco warehouse, so it's kind of full circle.
The machines that we use are from late '40s up till the '80s I prefer the early '50s, which are the ones with the mirrors that are kind of upright and look sort of Deco.
They're not as heavy as some of these boat anchors that could hurt your back if you're not careful.
They're my blank canvases.
[warm atmospheric music continues] Part of the process, just I need time to live with it so I can actually get a feel for the nature of the machine, the personality of it.
[tools zinging] We rip out things and streamline the mechanics so that it'll vend a lot better and try to remove the smelly past.
But we also maintain the history of the nature of the machines.
- Pretty much any place that touches the art we want as clean as possible.
After that, assemble all the knobs and all the platforms.
This takes the token, deactivates these levers which hook onto these.
[lever clanking] And whenever this little lever is held down by a piece of art, it allows these arms to move and catch.
[coin rattles] [levers clanging] There we go.
[warm atmospheric music continues] Anybody can really fix a machine, but not everybody can make it aesthetically beautiful.
It's so eye-catching is because it's, Clark is a graphic designer first.
He is a mechanic eighth.
That's Clark's biggest strength.
He had the idea, but he also followed through with a vision.
[warm atmospheric music continues] - We try to make it as creative as possible, but try to make them appealing for each venue.
[warm atmospheric music continues] This one's going into like an Irish pub and they preferred to leave the patina just beat up.
They said if it's painted, it's not gonna look right.
[warm atmospheric music continues] Every machine that goes out, whether it's here or Australia, they have a little bit of Jethro and Ellie fur in them.
[Clark chuckles] It's just part of it.
[dog barking] [groovy music] You know, I do take pride in these machines.
I love the fact that they had a life before we give them a semi-retirement.
- Wow, I remember those, man.
The Newbury Hotel.
- [Clark] So you recognize it as being an old cigarette machine?
- Old cigarette machine.
My dad used to send me down there all the time to go and get him a pack of Pall Mall.
[both laughing] Yep, you got something there.
- It is sort of an art installation collaboration between the artist, the studio, and the host.
It looks perfect here.
- It's a good spot.
- Can you see how Kevin's loading now?
- [Woman] Yes.
[machine clacking] - I wanna do my superstition.
I always kiss the keyhole so it won't jam.
I've been doing that since 1998.
[upbeat music] We're up to 170 machines.
We have around 300 artists at any given time involved, and we sell around 90,000 pieces out of the network every year.
So that's a lot of reach for something very homegrown in nature.
Anyone with five bucks can go get an original piece of art.
That's the most beautiful part of the project for me.
I enjoy seeing people who never experienced art before buy from an Art-on-Mat, 'cause sometimes it's their first experience, and sometimes it's the first sale that an artist has had.
[upbeat music continues] People knew what these machines did in the past and they're intrigued that we're using them for something else that is better for you, in most cases.
[Clark chuckles] There's some bad art out there [chuckles].
- [Heather] Next time on "My Home", travel with us to meet families leaning into their traditions of farming, fishing, food and business to create their own unique legacies.
- First time you guys are with us, right?
- [Man] Oh my, well, welcome.
- It's all on "My Home".
[nostalgic bluegrass music].
♪ ♪ [music fades to silence]