As a lover of art, I always like to keep an eye out for events and shows where artists showcase and sell their work. In particular, I find supporting local artists to be essential because it can help them continue to create new pieces. Buying supplies can be extremely expensive, after all.
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Lila Barber, an artist studying at the University of Rhode Island, invited me to an event called Get A Grip: the Mystic Pop. Taking place between 5 and 10 PM on April 29th, it was a one-night show featuring an array of talent as well as music, food, and a bar. Lila was one of the featured artists.
As soon as I arrived, I got my ID checked, paid the ten-dollar admission fee, and walked right over to Lila. She was standing by the bar, and we began discussing some of the details of the night.
“Taylor Samuel pretty much runs everything,” she began, “and this event focuses on talent in Connecticut and surrounding areas. Thirty percent of the admissions actually go to non-profits, like the New London Skate organization, and Safe Futures of Connecticut!” I smiled knowing that a chunk of my admission fee went to good causes.
“So, is Taylor Samuel one of the artists featured here?” I asked.
“No, but she works to promote and support art,” Lila replied. “Do you want to go look through all of the artists’ work?”
Although the Mystic Pop was located at a CrossFit gym, the set-up managed to be perfect. Steve Lurkel’s display was right next to the bar, and I immediately overheard someone looking to buy one of his pieces. His art was whimsical, featuring cartoon subjects such as a crestfallen bird, a bear, a whale, and so forth. Most pieces seemed to include a lot of eye-catching colors. As Lila and I passed through groups of onlookers, I realized someone was painting a large mural in a style similar to graffiti on the wall next to Steve Lurkel’s section.
We made our way over to Forrest Joss’ display, and I saw that she had many framed black and white pieces. Her work was accompanied by an introduction that read, “I am inspired by the delicacy of the natural world. I use these elements to convey my emotions, and detail to make the viewing more intimate…” My favorite piece was titled “Dreaming of a Better Life”, and it was a drawing of a man’s nude body, however he had a Venus flytrap for a head. It was selling for twenty dollars.
Lila and I continued onward, seeing sculptures, multi-dimensional pieces hanging off of the wall, and much more. Another artist that grabbed my attention was Felicia Stevens. Her work was all finger painting, but at a first glance I never would have guessed. By the details alone it was evident that she put a lot of effort and care into each piece.
“Do you want to come see my work?” Lila asked with a smile. I nodded. Lila is 21, and she is focusing her degree in printmaking and painting. She guided me through the crowd, and her display was right by the entrance. As soon as I saw a glimpse of her work, I was left in awe. There was a self-portrait of her with blue skin, multiple abstract pieces that included skulls and body parts, as well as a couple of depictions of crystals and rocks. I raved about her artwork for the rest of the night, and she even ended up selling a piece.
After looking through everyone’s displays, I decided to listen to the music, where some people took the floor to rap over hip hop beats, while others performed blue-grass indie music on their guitars. No matter what genre, the live music had the crowd dancing in the spotlight.
What made the event so memorable was the fact that there was such a variety of talent. Even though I try to personally keep up with local artwork, I left the event in awe. The Mystic Pop proved to me that the New England art scene is much more prominent than I ever could have imagined.