‘I feel an impulse to be bolder, more direct,’ says artist Damian Stamer

Photo by Katrina Williams/Fifty Two Hundred Photo

‘I feel an impulse to be bolder, more direct,’ says artist Damian Stamer

Damian Stamer is a North Carolina native whose art is influenced by his Southern roots and rural landscapes. Though he’s painting the same subject matter, Stamer says he’s finding a different energy and urgency to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Studio location: Nestled in the woods of northern Durham County, North Carolina


Describe the artwork you create and medium your use

I paint architectural remnants that dot the rural landscape of the Carolinas. These are mostly oil paintings on panel, but I also love printmaking.

Who are artists that inspire you and your work?

Anselm Kiefer, Beverly McIver, Neo Rauch, Matthias Weischer, Cecily Brown, Willem de Kooning, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly, Dana Schutz, Adrian Ghenie, Kerry James Marshall, Vincent van Gogh, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Gerhard Richter, and Robert Rauschenberg.

What is your favorite piece or artwork that you created and why?

I appreciate different pieces for different reasons, but if I had to pick one at this moment, I’d say St. Marys Rd. 8. It depicts an abandoned house on St. Marys Road just a few miles from the studio. In addition to enjoying how it turned out visually, it’s one of my favorites because I wrestled with it for over two years before laying down the final brushstroke.

St. Marys Rd 8

How does your environment influence your art?

In a way, my environment is my art. I paint my everyday surroundings. These are the places of my childhood. They allow me to explore memory, with all its faults and fictions, and investigate the tension between personal and historical truth.

Tell us about your new morning routine, including when you start your day and how you spend the early hours.

Before this all started, I was waking up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. to paint, but then I decided it would be a good idea to sleep in to make sure I get enough rest for a healthy immune system. So now I’m waking up around 8 a.m. and beginning the day with meditation and exercise.

Are you finding new inspiration for your art during this shift of perspective in the world?

Although I continue to paint the same subject matter, I’m finding a different energy and urgency to the work. It’s hard to describe, but I feel an impulse to be bolder, more direct. To quote my favorite musical, “no other road, no other way, no day but today.”

Tell us about your afternoon. Are you working from home, going to your studio?

My studio is a short walk or very short drive from home, so I’m back and forth between the two quite a bit. In addition to painting, I have better wifi at the studio, so I’m usually on that computer if I have a Zoom meeting. I’ve also been taking a walk with my parents every afternoon. We stay on opposite sides of the road. We talk about our fears and what makes us anxious. We talk about the latest news and our plans for the day. We walk by the farm and say hello to the steers or take a moment to appreciate the redbuds’ blossoms or songbirds’ calls. We say what we are thankful for. These walks have been an incredible gift.

What positive perspective changes in society would you like to see come from the pandemic?

This pandemic definitely has a way of putting things in perspective. Although it can bring up a lot of fears, it may also help us realize the many things in life that we are grateful for, the precious nature of every present moment.

How are you winding down your day? Have any recommendations for stress relievers to settle after another day done?

We started watching movies every night, which seemed like a bit of an indulgence compared to the normal schedule, but it has been a fun way to relieve stress and relax.

What are you cooking? What’s your comfort food of choice?

First off, I feel very privileged to have ready access to food during this time. I’m fortunate to live with a partner who is an amazing cook, so I’ve been washing a lot of dishes to do my part in the kitchen. Red lentil dal is a favorite, but I’m pretty spoiled because everything is delicious. It’s like a gourmet quarantine.

What are you currently reading?

Interviews with Artists: 1966-2012 by Michael Peppiatt and a lot of digital NYTimes.

What is your favorite music choice?

The Avett Brothers

What is your favorite podcast(s)?

The Daily (NYTimes)

These documentaries will help you get your art fix from home

These documentaries will help you get your art fix from home

Movies are one sure-fire way to pass the time in our new don’t-leave-the-house era. And because our passion for art doesn’t fade away in a crisis, here are a few art and design documentaries to help you get your art fix until we are able to open our doors once again.

Craft in America

The Peabody Award-winning series on PBS explores America’s creative spirit through the language and traditions of the handmade. The series takes viewers on a journey to the artists, origins and techniques of American craft. Two artists in our collection, Diego Romero and Cristina Cordova, are featured on the episode “Identity.”

Where it’s streaming: PBS. https://www.craftinamerica.org/episodes

Exit Through The Gift Shop

Talk a stroll through the ever-evolving world of street art. This documentary follows Thierry Guetta, a French native living in Los Angeles as he explores his own work, and the work of famous street artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey (whose work was featured in the Mint’s Under Construction exhibition). Street art also plays a huge role in our special exhibition Classic Black, which combines the work of local mural artist Owl with the basalt sculptures of Josiah Wedgwood.

Where it’s streaming: Amazon Prime, Google Play and digital rental services.

Abstract: The Art of Design

A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world.

Where it’s streaming: Netflix. 

Out of the Fire: The Art and Science of Ceramics

Join Dr. Alexis G. Clare, professor of glass science at the New York State College, Alfred University, on a journey of ceramics from past to present. 

Where it’s streaming: PBS.

5 podcasts that make us excited about art, even if we can’t see it

5 podcasts that make us excited about art, even if we can’t see it

Art Crush poster. "there more to charlottes art scene than meets the eye. Go deeper. Tune in to the new podcast for observations, confessions, and obsessions of art makers and risk takers."

ArtCrush

Catch up on both seasons of the Mint’s very own podcast. Hear interviews with artists from our collections and special exhibitions, hot takes from Mint curators, and even our very own President & CEO, Todd Herman.


Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Museum Confidential

Love any and all museums? Museum Confidential gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of your favorite museums. From an interview with Killer Mike, High Museum Board Member, to chatting about visitor data with Colleen Dilenschneider, this one goes out to all the proud museum nerds out there. Listen on NPR

talk art podcast

Talk Art

Hosted by actor Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament, Talk Art is a podcast dedicated to the world of art featuring exclusive interviews with leading artists, curators & gallerists. Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

ArtCurious

True Crime, rivals, and shock value? No, this isn’t the next Netflix docu-series. It’s ArtCurious, an art history podcast hosted by Jennifer Dasal that is sure to delight and awe like no school art history class ever could. Listen on the ArtCurious website or via Apple podcasts

Art Movements

Brought to you by Hyperallergic, an art forum and website created in 2009, Art Movements podcast brings you all the up-to-date happenings from across the art world. Hosted by Hrag Vartanian, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Hyperallergic, Art Movements talks about everything from what artists need to know about taxes, to art history, to arts pop culture and everything in between. Listen on the Hyperallergic website.

14 more books to delve into while staying in during COVID-19

14 more books to delve into while staying in during COVID-19

Inspiration for great reads keeps coming from the Mint staff. Following are 14 more books to help fill the void and curiosity while you are at home. Order print copies from local bookseller Park Road Books for curbside pickup, or find digital copies on Audible, Hoopla, and Overdrive.  

ARTFUL READS 

Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures by Cynthia Saltzman 

“This book answers the question: How did big American art museums acquire so much European art?  Wealthy Gilded Age American entrepreneurs jostled with one another to collect and bring known works of art across the Atlantic —  Rembrandts, Raphaels, etc. 

—Joel Smeltzer, Head of School and Gallery Programs

The Popes of Avignon: A Century in Exile by Edwin Mullins 

As an Italian Renaissance scholar, I have usually looked at this period in the history of the Catholic Church from the Italian perspective and not the French. Well written and a good read. 

—Todd Herman, President and CEO 

NOVELS 

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

I’m spending lots of time reading to my kids these days. This week we started reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien to my eldest daughter. She may be a bit young for some of the material, but our family has been enjoying reading a “big girl book” nightly. It provides us all a chance to escape, and have an adventure without leaving our house — something that is becoming more challenging everyday. This copy actually belonged to my mother when she was a child, and she read it to me when I was young, so it has been well loved. 

—Rebecca O’Malley, Exhibition Coordinator 

The Hundred Story Home by Kathy Izard 

I saw Kathy Izard speak and was so inspired by her story that I bought her book. I started reading it this week and was reminded of how helping others changes us. Her work with homelessness in the Charlotte area led to the city-wide effort to build Moore Place. This book has reminded me of the importance of listening to your inner voice. It’s helpful for us, especially now, to find ways to practice compassion – even if we have to do it with a mask on. 

—Maggie Burgan, Public Programs Coordinator 

Introducing the Honourable Phryne Fisher

Introducing the Honourable Phryne Fisher by Kerry Greenwood 

The adventures of a sassy flapper in 1920s Australia who just happens to be a private detective.  She’s daring, independent, and smarter than all the men around her. What’s not to like? 

—Ellen Show, Archivist 

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 

Oryx and Crake is from the same author as A Handmaid’s Tale, and is centered around a man living in the post-apocalyptic ruins of a world he helped create, after humanity is near-entirely killed off by a bio-engineered plague. It’s the first book in the MaddAddam trilogy, and was a very good read.

—Benjamin Elrod, Graphic Designer 

NONFICTION 

A Little History of The World by E.H. Gombrich 

I keep this book on my nightstand. It was recommended to me by one of my favorite art history professors. It’s not filled with names and dates, but is a collection of 40 short chapters about human experience and achievement  a fairy tale-like history of the world. Perfect for young readers and fun to read aloud to smaller children. 

—Maggie Burgan, Public Programs Coordinator

Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard 

This enchanting book uses a mouthwatering metaphor to unlock the magic in interior spaces. The chapters delve into the hidden life of the house, rooms, nests, shells, attics and cellars. Adult readers will enjoy sharing excerpts and helpIng their family to find and savor familiar spaces. Miniatures and shells are some of my favorite chapters. (Free download available.) 

—Cynthia Moreno, Director of Learning and Engagement

On Looking by Alexandria Horowitz 

A walker’s guide to the art of observation. I am enjoying it because Horowitz shows is how much more there is to see if we only take the time to look. 

—Diane Lowry, Guest Services Associate 

My 25 Years in Provence-Reflections of Then and Now by Peter Mayle

Easy, fun read that breaks up the more academic books. Wonderfully written. 

—Todd Herman, President & CEO

Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

I always try to have one book of poetry going for when I need an escape from reality, but I only have five minutes to make the trip. Tracy K. Smith’s books have been in rotation for a while, but her Life on Mars collection is a favorite because it not only plays off her love for David Bowie, but the title is my favorite Bowie song. Also, rereading it, I’m surprised by how much it captures the hope in the bleak unpredictability of every day. Take the end of her poem, Sci-Fi:

. . . Weightless, unhinged,

Eons from even our own moon, we’ll drift

In the haze of space, which will be, once

And for all, scrutable and safe.

—Jen S. Edwards, PhD, Chief Curator and Curator or Contemporary Arts

Powership: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome by Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank 

I have followed Daymond’s career and wanted to hear his advice on taking control of your destiny. So far it’s been lots of good tips and advice on how to make connections. It’s good listening while we work from home. 

Thesha Woodley, Associate Director of Visitor Experience and Membership 

Just for Fun

The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Rex & Sparky 

We have four legged “kids,” so just for fun we are reading The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Rex & Sparky. 

—Lori Rogers, Visitor Experience and Membership Coordinator 

Magazines 

I’ve not really been able to concentrate on a book, but I am loving magazines for a bit of respite from the surreal week we’ve had. The colorful and inspiring pages of House BeautifulArtist magazine and Traveler from AAA have been a feast to the eye. 

—Angela Lubincky, Guest Services Associate 

Artist Katherine Boxall on virtual connections, mental blocks and 6 AM puppy cuddles in COVID-19 crisis

 

Artist Katherine Boxall on virtual connections, mental blocks and 6 AM puppy cuddles in COVID-19 crisis

Katherine Boxall is the most recent artist to have an installation hanging at the Mint Museum Uptown as part of Constellation CLT. She’s also the first of many artists that we are asking about how the coronavirus — and shift in the world — is affecting their day-to-day lives, as well as the art they create.

Studio location: West Charlotte


Describe the artwork you create and medium your use.

I paint and draw using graphite, pastel, acrylic, oil, and spray paint. Although mostly abstract, I do work representationally as well.

What artists inspire you and your work?

I am inspired by lots of artists, dead and alive. They are not restricted to the visual landscape, writers and musicians are huge sources for me too. Right now I am thinking a lot about my MFA mentors from the Bay Area such as Alicia McCarthy, Brett Reichman, Maria Elena Gonzalez, Jeremy Morgan, Danielle Lawrence, Terry Powers, Felicita Norris … just to name a few.

What is your favorite piece or artwork that you created and why?

I don’t have a favorite piece(s). Everything that I make comes out of a certain time and context. Each work has it’s own stories and reasons, so it isn’t obvious to me how I would judge them on the same playing field.

How does your environment influence your art?

Environment influences your mind, body, and being all the time. I’ve heard people say you’re only as smart as the five people you surround yourself with. I don’t know if that’s true, but surrounding myself with other creative and inspiring people has helped me reach my highest potential in the past. It’s obviously very challenging to do that right now, so I am trying to connect virtually as much as I can with the people I love and keep my environment as uplifting as I can. Being a painter is about being aware of your ways of seeing, then learning to adapt and use them. Even though my environment is physically the same (in my studio) the psychological environment is different. So I’m working to find a way to level my emotions towards to the crisis and transform them into a positive output.

Tell us about your new morning routine, including when you start your day and how you spend the early hours.

I usually start my day with coffee and petting my golden retriever puppy Sophie. The pandemic hasn’t dawned on her so she continues to wake me up at the usual time (6am). Now that I don’t leave the house to exercise, we’ve been going on longer walks instead and calling family to check-in.


(from left to right)
Katherine Boxall. Black Licorice, 2020, acrylic, pastel, spray paint, and oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist
Katherine Boxall. Maple Candy, 2019, acrylic, oil, spray paint, and pastel on canvas. Courtesy of the artist
Katherine Boxall. Tread, 2020, acrylic, pastel, spray paint, and oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist


Are you finding new inspiration for your art during this shift of perspective in the world?

I feel grateful that my work is already self-directed and motivated, but the toll of this crisis is making it challenging to feel ‘inspired’. Right now, I am working to break down those mental blocks and use the opportunity to push myself and my work.

Tell us about your afternoon. Are you working from home or going to your studio?

Both. I am working from home for Jerald Melberg Gallery as much as I can and then spending the rest of my time in the studio. I am the only tenant in the warehouse, so my studio is literally the ultimate place to work while social distancing. I’ve also set up a space at home for small drawings and watercolors for a more low key/meditative creative vibe. I had a really busy winter with exhibitions and projects, so at the moment I am enjoying slowing own a bit.

How are you winding down your day? Have any recommendations for stress relievers to settle after another day done?

Lots of cuddling with the dog and spending time with my partner at home. I’ve added some exercise later in the day to fuel myself with endorphins and a few extra skincare steps because I no longer have any excuses. I guess my #1 recommendation (if you can) would be to eat chocolate while wearing a bathrobe on the couch watching your favorite show. In my experience, few things in life feel as luxurious. I’d also treat yourself to reading fiction and steeping some tea, anything to get a good night’s sleep.

What are you cooking? What’s your comfort food of choice?

I’m always cooking and we do it all. Breakfast has expanded beyond the smoothie to eggs, banana breads, muffins, etc. For lunch we have the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner which is usually salmon, cod, steak, chicken, homemade pizza, it just goes on. Cooking has always been a creative outlet for me so if anything the pandemic has just ramped that up. Watching my Instagram story will usually leave you hungry.

What are you currently reading?

The New York Times (it’s not for the weak)

What is your favorite music choice?

All kinds of things as the day goes, but Medasin, Future, and Lane 8 seem to be dominating my current playlists.

What is your favorite podcast(s)?

The Daily, The Journal, How I Made This

What positive perspective changes in society would you like to see come from the pandemic?

I know for myself that being a busy body can sometimes act as a distraction from the things I really need to work on or slow down to appreciate. Socially, I hope this will put in perspective our real values and help us prioritize them in more human way. Systematically, I am hopeful to see protection for those who need it most. Only a fraction of us have the luxury to work from home or take time off (and even fewer for long periods), so I hope that our government and community really pulls together to support one another.

Look inside Charlotte-based artist Katherine Boxall’s west Charlotte studio. Boxall was the Mint’s first Constellation CLT artist of 2020, and in partnership with the Young Affiliates of the Mint, the Mint’s Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, chats with Boxall to give us a glimpse into the artist’s creative process, her striking works of art, and the studio where it all comes together.

Top Five Reasons to Take an Art of Reading Public Tour at Mint Museum Randolph

Top Five Reasons to Take an Art of Reading Public Tour at Mint Museum Randolph

1. Meet Fellow Bibliophiles.
The only thing better than reading a book you love is the opportunity to discuss it with others. Art of Reading public tours give you a chance to explore characters and analyze plot turns. The discussion is followed by a visit to the galleries to view art works that connect to the book.


2. The Sunday Afternoon Tours are Less Expensive than Panther Game Tickets.
Public tours take place on selected Wednesdays, 6-7:30 pm and Sundays, 2-3:30 pm. During football season, it’s an alternative activity for a Sunday afternoon. Off season, it’s a great way to spend selected Sundays. [And remember Wednesday evening options too: admission to the museum is free after 5:00.]


3. It’s a New Way to View Mint Art. Just Imagine:
Mr. Darcy holding that Derby Porcelain coffee cup and saucer in the Portals to the Past Exhibition (Pride and Prejudice). Or, Frida Kahlo wearing a distinctive necklace similar to the jadeite one in the Ancient American Galleries (The Lacuna). Or, Tree-ear admiring the 12th Century Korean porcelain bowls in the Wares of the World Exhibition (A Single Shard). Or, Sarah Grimke learning plantation social customs by using the Staffordshire miniature tea and coffee service in the Portals to the Past Exhibition (The Invention of Wings).


4. Tours are Free.
Free to museum members; free after admission for non-members.


5. There’s A Tour for All Interests.
Choose from four current book tours: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen); The Invention of Wings (Sue Monk Kidd); The Lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver); or A Single Shard (Linda Sue Park).


More information on group tours can be found here.
A fifth tour for Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns will launch at Mint Museum Uptown April 2019.

Michele Allen and Alice Ross, Docents and Members, Public Tours Task Force

Jen Cousar, a graphic design artist for the Mint Museum, stands in front of the American Idol tour bus.

Music @ the Mint: An Inside View of ‘American Idol’

Note: Producers of the hit TV show “American Idol” recently held open auditions at Levine Center for the Arts and Mint Museum Uptown. Two members of the Mint staff agreed to share their audition experiences.

Jen Cousar, graphic designer:

It was 9 AM, and I had absolutely no idea what I’d gotten myself into. I’d chosen my song, practiced for friends and family, got dressed up, and had finally arrived uptown in front of The Mint Museum and there it was: the “American Idol” bus.

Beyond the bus were hundreds of wide-eyed (and slightly sleepy) Idol hopefuls lined up and filling the sunny alley in front of me. It was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I walked toward the check-in line, and couldn’t help but smile as a large group of auditioners sang the chorus of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele in perfect harmony. It was pure magic.

I made my way down the alley and into the check-in line. I was immediately greeted by a kind, funny fellow auditioner named V. (I’ll call her V here because she had very intentionally not told anyone that she was auditioning, and I don’t want to mess that up for her). She had a guitar on her back and the biggest smile on her face. I learned that she spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to South America to visit family, was in school and wanted to be a doctor, and was going to sing an original song for her audition. We laughed and chatted as we filled out our extensive questionnaires and video release forms.

Soon after, I was able to submit my forms and jump to the front of the line (shoutout to the Mint and producers on that one!) and was lined up with three other contestants. One girl had auditioned for “American Idol” three times prior; another was nervous because someone in the tent next to us was singing the same song she’d chosen; the final man was in a band and would be playing at Matthews Alive that night.

As I laughed and talked with the many people around me, I was comforted to see so much diversity. We were all there because of a love of music and song, and a desire to share that with the world. It didn’t matter where we were from or our different backgrounds, in this space we were unified in our experience and connected by commonality.

My group was called forward and one by one we sang. Each different, and in my opinion each doing a great job. I sang a country song called “Something More” by Sugarland, a song I’d grown up loving. It felt amazing. Once we each sang, we were politely told that none of us would be moving on.

Sure, I’d hoped for better, but as I walked away to find my way back to work, I felt like I’d accomplished something. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t afraid, I was just a happy girl who got to sing her song surrounded by wonderful people.

Toni Pennington, Mint Museum Shops:

Of all the things I have done in my 24 years, I’d have to say that this is the craziest. Me, being the ambivert that I am, refused and convinced myself that I am not that “special voice” that “American Idol” is looking for. When I told my mom about it, she was beside herself and urging me to audition. At first I was resistant, but finally I decided, what could it hurt?

The days leading up to the audition, I prepared my song and practiced day in and out in preparation. I even recruited my acting coach to help with a video submission. When the day finally came, I was just a bucket of nerves. I put on my favorite outfit, grabbed my unicorn water bottle and head wrap, and made my way uptown to work and the audition. My coworkers were extremely encouraging and gave me the mojo I needed to go into the streets for my audition.

There were a few hiccups on the way to the table, but I finally made it. I was standing in line at the table with only three people in front of me to sing but I was so nervous I was ready to abandon my spot in line. My throat went dry, my arm got all tingly, and I had to go to the bathroom really badly but then finally my courage took over and said, “No matter what, it’s an experience. You can do it and you WILL do it because it’s all just for fun and the love of music. You got this.” With that, I took a sip of my water, shook out my hands and stepped up to the table with my unicorn water bottle, and sang my heart out. The nerves went away, the anxious voice in my head silenced, and I just let go.

In the end, the producer said no, but I was not discouraged or hurt. I felt so proud of myself for going up there and singing even when I had convinced myself otherwise. Was I disappointed? A little bit, but it was the most fun I had that day and can’t wait to do more auditions in the future.