Art aficionados gathered at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts Thursday night as it housed the First Annual Vern Riffe After Hours.
The event was coordinated by C*MAR, (Creative Minds Are Rare) and Joe Patti, the director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.
C*MAR is composed of four main members, three artists from Shawnee State University, Nick and Connor Sherman, June Borell, and their marketing director Dominique Johnson.
“What we wanted to do was give people a chance to see Portsmouth artists, both locally and through students here at the university. You see a few placed artist events here and there but I want everybody to have the opportunities to see them collectively,” said Nick Sherman. “That’s what spawned Vern Riffe after Hours. Just having something to do and somewhere to go on a Thursday night in Portsmouth, to network with other artists, to buy art and just explore that realm here.”
With help from Joe Patti, the event was successful.
“They (C*MAR) really did a lot of the heavy lifting for this. They went out and talked to people, went out to the tattoo parlors, and talked to the students. We sent out a press release and helped spread the word. Between us, it was a really good partnership in terms of attracting a real range and diversity of participants. They’d done a show about a year ago over at Stump Standards and I realized these guys were really ambitious and self-motivated, said Patti. “I talked to them in the fall and I asked if they wanted to partner in putting something together.”
Local artists and craftsmen of all ages were encouraged to come and share their works with the community.
“The cool thing about a show like this is that we got applications from older folks in Portsmouth, people that haven’t even graduated high school yet, college students, painters, sculptors, mixed media and digital. We really just got a collection of artists that we didn’t even know existed in Portsmouth and that’s excellent. That’s what we were going for,” said Sherman.
C*MAR collaborated with Wayne Stump of Stump Standards LLC to unveil a project that had been in the works since December.
Stumps Standards provided C*MAR with a pine top table for the artists to work with. The group spent over 60 hours using pyrography to burn their designs into the table.
“We’d never done anything on that scale, we’ve done a little bit of wood burning previously, and we spent 60-70 all collectively working on one surface. That’s the kind of stuff that we like to do, that’s what we’re really driven to do, just relate to each other through artwork,” said Sherman.
Stylistically, Sherman describes their art as spontaneous train of thought.
“A majority of our artwork is done with all three artists working at the same time, we try not to hinder ourselves too much with what immediately comes to mind, we want everybody to see the raw version of us. Through that process we learned that there are lots of opinions and ideas that people don’t voice because they’re afraid to. We want people to be able to take an honest approach to new ideas and new concepts and investigate themselves and what they believe. All of our art is like that.”
Both Sherman and Patti are enthusiastic about the future of the event.
“With the Boneyfiddle Arts Center closing, there really isn’t an outlet, a place where people can exhibit, I thought, ‘Well we’ll just put our toe in and see what happens’, I’m very happy with the turnout,” said Patti.
Reach Ciara R. Williams at 740-353-3101 Ext 1924 or on Twitter @PDT_Ciara