GRAYSON, Ky. — The Grayson Gallery & Art Center (GGAC) will be presenting the works of artist, writer and Appalachian arts advocate, Misty Skaggs with an opening reception, ‘Real Characters Art and Writing by Misty Skaggs’ on Aug. 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. as a part of the Final Fridays event series.
Dan Click, director of GGAC, said having the opportunity to share the artwork of Skaggs is indeed a pleasure.
“It is a real pleasure to be able to share the artwork and writings of Misty Skaggs along with pieces by her multi-talented family,” Click said. “Something a bit different for the Grayson Gallery, primarily a solo artist exhibit with a real “family” atmosphere, this is one event folks won’t want to miss. Adding the traditional genre of live music to the mix will be an added bonus – bring your family and friends and we will see you there.”
Skaggs will also be teaching a free workshop at the gallery entitled “Writing Real Characters” on Sunday. Aug. 28 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Skaggs said the workshop will provide a very relaxed atmosphere in which character development will be explored collectively.
“For two hours, we’ll get together and write,” Skaggs said. “This will be a very laid-back workshop, designed to let participants open up and connect prose writing to personal experiences. Together, we will explore the process of character development through several exercises and discuss what makes fictional people so believable you could pluck them right off the page.”
Skaggs, 34, currently resides in her “Mamaw’s spare bedroom” out at the end of Bear Town Ridge Road where she is slowly amassing a library of contemporary fiction and a collection of outsider art while perfecting her buttermilk biscuits. Skaggs was born and raised in Eastern Kentucky and feels a deep connection to the Appalachian region, its people and its culture. Her artwork was featured in a solo show at the Appalshop Gallery and she has traveled the region showing and selling at various festivals and markets for years.
Skaggs’ poetry and prose have been featured in literary journals such as New Madrid, Still, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Limestone, The Pikeville Review and Inscape. She also won the Judy Rogers Award for Fiction with her short story “Hamburgers” and is a regular contributor to friedchickenandcoffee.com, a blogazine for rural literature. When she isn’t writing, Misty enjoys volunteering to “teach” writing to high school kids across Kentucky as well as taking long, woodsy walks with her three cats and reading in her favorite chair on the back porch just a little before dusk.
“My work (in both visual art and literature) reflects deep roots in the hills and hollers of Appalachia. I was raised on a tobacco farm in the backwoods of Elliott County, one of Eastern Kentucky’s poorest communities,” Skaggs said. “My upbringing continues to shape my creative endeavors. I have often referred to my artwork as “hillbilly pop” and I write stubborn stories; hardheaded tales of rebellion and redemption, of tragedy and triumph, of poachers and preachers and ever’thing in between.
Skaggs artistry is the true expression of Appalachian, as opposed to exploitative ideas of the culture.
“My work has been described as ‘elegantly gritty’. I think of my prose and painting as a piercing and honest look into Appalachian culture and as an exploration of the people of this region. I chose that little word, ‘into’, for a very specific reason. There’s a big difference between looking into and looking at something. This region has often been looked at, but is rarely looked into. As a native Appalachian and a woman, I feel that I express the intense complexity of my place and my people in a way that others cannot. Appalachia has been marginalized and exploited for generations and voices coming up from these lush hollers and drifting down from the mountain tops are loud. These voices are begging to be heard and I want to use my own voice as an artist and author to ensure that they are.”
The event will also feature numerous original multi-media pieces on display and for sale. In addition, self-taught family members will share their self-described “folk art” as well, including works by her mother Bonita Skaggs Parsons and grandmother Joyce Skaggs.
The reception is free to the public with donations appreciated. Live music to be provided by “Bonnie & Shannon,” a favorite regional band consisting of Shannon Spears (who toured with the late Merle Haggard back in the day), his wife Bonnie Spears along with Keith Garvin on upright bass and Larry Lykins on percussion. The band has performed to a welcoming crowd during recent “Second Saturday Music & Art Circus” events at the Grayson Gallery as well. Light refreshments, water and soft drinks will be provided throughout the evening.
The Grayson Gallery will be open on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for another viewing of the show. Coming up will be winning works by Carter County 4H members, back from the Kentucky State Fair, with their pieces on display in the gallery on Saturday, Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (other hours by appointment). Next will be the “All Photography Show & Sale”, set for Sept. 30, which will continue to be on display through the Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Funtoberfest event on Oct. 8. The second annual “Haunted Jail” event will kick off on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 8 p.m. Contact Dan Click, Director, via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for information about events, programs and workshops and look for the gallery on Facebook.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext.1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.