Behind the Muse: with Denise Allen

Denise Allen is a local artist, art advocate, event planner, city school employee, spreader of joy and an all ’round good person. If you know Denise, you love her. And incase you didn’t know, Denise is not only a participating lotto artist but she just-so-happens to be the cofounder of Art Lotto, too! I couldn’t have dreamed up a better partner in event planning. Together we have planned three years of Art Lotto, soon-to-be two years of Wonderkitten, a Photographer Expo and some other things in the works that you’ll just have to wait for! Denise recently met with Chesapeake based artist Cameron Twiford, the artist she will be portraying in this year’s Art Lotto. At the same time, Cameron also met with the artist he will be portraying: Sharon Skates of Broadway, Virginia. This trio enjoyed lunch, conversation and photo taking at the Blue Nile in Downtown, Harrisonburg.Sharon Skates Denise Allen Cameron Twiford

Sharon, Denise & Cameron’s joint Art Lotto meeting at the Blue Nile in Harrisonburg, VA.

 “It’s been fun getting involved in the arts in Harrisonburg! I’ve been living here for almost 10 years and I’ve had over 50 art shows. I’ve gotten to collaborate with several artists and continue to do so with Artery and Art Lotto. In Art Lotto 2012, I partnered with Teal Davies, Teal Davies partnered with Lynda Bostrom, and Lynda Bostrom had me!  (Side Note: This year, Derek Niver gets to portray me, and Lynda Bostrom is going to portray Derek! How cool is that!?!?) 

This year, we had another art-tri-fecta on Thursday, May 8! I sped out the door at lunch time to meet my Art Lotto pARTner, Cameron Twiford, and HIS pARTner, Sharon Skates, at Blue Nile downtown. As I ate my lunch in front of Sharon and Cameron, we swapped stories and got to know each other a little bit. I learned that Cameron is a firefighter and traveling to Las Vegas for a training with ‘five other knuckleheads’ this week. He grew up in Chesapeake with Paul Somers and visits Harrisonburg often to hang out and go skateboarding and see events like Skatan Worshippers. For his art making, he usually does pen drawings, his favorite color is green, and he’s stepping outside of his comfort zone to make Sharon’s portrait! And OF COURSE Sharon ‘uses both sides of her brain on a daily basis’, she changes her hair color often, and she’s a cancer survivor. She shared with us that Harrisonburg Relay for Life is #19 in the nation and #1 in Virginia! Her weekend would be spent making 7,200 cupcakes for a fundraiser for a 5th grader with Leukemia! WOW! Sharon says she’s going to try and paint her pARTner, Laura Thompson, on a cake, and then make a 2nd fondant cake—and I’m secretly hoping she lets us eat one!” ~Denise

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Cameron Twiford & Sharon Skates showing off their creative guns.

 

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Behind the Muse: with Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson is a mother, a wife, an artist and she teaches art at Thomas Harrison Middle School. For those of you familiar with the middle school species, that translates to: Laura has the patience of a saint. I recently visited an art exhibit of student work that Laura organized at the Blue Nile in downtown Harrisonburg. The show consisted of hand-sewn monsters that represented the student’s secrets, inner demons and fears. The artwork was impressive enough on it’s own, but to read the words of a middle schooler explaining that part of themselves was downright powerful. The world needs more teachers like this woman. We’re thrilled that she is dedicating a chunk of her precious time to participate in Art Lotto again this year. Laura will be creating a portrait of Greg Sultan. Laura’s portrait will be created by Sharon Skates.

Laura works on a sketch of her Art Lotto partner, Greg Sultan.
Laura works on a sketch of her Art Lotto partner, Greg Sultan.

“I love that the Art Lotto process can be so organic. Like last year, I came to the meeting with no plan, no expectations, and an open mind. When I met Greg Sultan at the Baja Bean in Staunton, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had talked to him briefly at the Luck of the Draw, and had looked at his website, but had no idea what form his portrait would ultimately take. I am an art teacher, so I know a wide range of media. At first I thought maybe glass, then maybe wood block printing, then maybe watercolor. I still haven’t landed on one for sure. 
But I know what it will be called: He told me that he is heading far away from here — uprooting, transplanting, reestablishing — and with that comes much change and adjustment. With change comes potential — to do, to be, to create, to build. These things are choices we can make, and even though we might sometimes feel like our chance has passed, “There’s Still Time.” ~Laura

Behind the Muse: with Chris Clauser

I first saw Chris Clauser’s art work when I was given a tour of Spitzer Art Center. He had an open studio there and I was allowed a quick peek inside. Seeing his cd cases strung on the floor and his paintings placed around the room was sort of…intimate. Like the way you feel after reading someone’s journal. When he came to the Blue Nile to sign up for Lotto, I did a mental fist pump. I was excited that he would be taking part in representing this second year of Art Lotto. Chris soon had a change in lifestyle, being one of the many many local people affected by the shift at Rosetta Stone. He decided to move home…to Missouri…but he also decided to stick with Lotto and work from afar. Yesssss. This year, Chris will be portraying Indigo Erikson. Alex Kent will be portraying Chris.
Chris Clauser
“After a string of events, I moved back home to St. Louis. I soon realized this was going to present a challenge for creating a portrait of someone whom I have never met or interacted with. This was a stagger in my process and how I should approach the substance of the picture that the person would enjoy. So connecting via social network, I was able to get a good idea based on bio and photos of my artist. I viewed posts and other photos that the artist had, which to some this may sound like facebook stalking, but for this intention it was the only way for me to create a concept. As an artist my major focus is substance of a picture. I try to achieve something that has an emotional as well as a logical meaning that people can attach to and think about. With these two variables I try to create something that portrays the artist and their interests. I like to call my style “The Superunknown” because I really don’t know a better name. So from what I have developed, I feel that my picture will turn some heads and the artist will see something that reflects them and maybe even something different about them in a positive way.” ~Chris

Behind the Muse: with Rebecca Rust

Rebecca Rust, signed up for Art Lotto in person at one of our sign up events held at the Blue Nile. There’s just something about her that draws you in and makes you think twice about what’s going on behind those merlot colored glasses. This year, Matt Hall has been assigned the task of showing us his Rebecca as he will be creating a portrait of her for our August opening. Aside from getting involved in the arts and chatting about life at weekly girls night, Becca is also a derby girl. Mmm hmm. Pretty b.a. huh? Watch her in action at a Rocktown Roller event near you.
This year, Becca will be doing a portrait of Jon Gehman

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Becca viewing Matt’s art work at his Blue Nile show.

“I had seen Matt’s show at the Nile when it opened, and saw one image in particular that I had to have! His work reminds me of Miyazaki films, in the way that houses turning into beings, multiple faces appear from different perspectives.
Nothing is as it seems.

I was prompted a week or so later, by Brandy, to go visit again for some photos. This time I had a fellow roller derby lady with me (who happens to be our go-to for Merchandise… and a fellow Art Lotto contributor), Ruthie Hogan, and she liked Matt’s work as much as I did, so she bought his Queen of Hearts image right on the spot! Her and Matt and I all figured out a plan to sell some shirts with Matt’s image on it! Locals helping locals helping non-profits. What more could you ask for?!” ~Becca

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Matt and Becca having a weirder moment.

Denise Fills Our Cup With Happy

Incase you forgot how awesome the cup drawings were at The Luck of the Draw…here’s a friendly reminder. Denise designed 58 original drawings on styrofoam cups! Artists in attendance selected a cup to keep – under the cup was a lotto ball with the name of another artist, revealing who they would be portraying in this years Art Lotto!

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denise allen art lotto cups