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Hollow Men on Stage at the Gilbert PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dr. Gail Morfesis   
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

uac072314001.gif Hollow- Having a hole or empty space inside:  Without significance:   Insincere: Phrase example: beat someone hollow
Some came with questions, some came seeking answers and some came for entertainment alone —  but none left unchanged. As audience members left The Gilbert Theater’s preview, debut performance of Hollow Men, by local playwright Stephen Miles, some were subdued, cocooned in silence, while others were incensed with denial or revulsion, yet others met and questioned the cast about their experience with the subject matter, script and its affect on their performance and them as fellow human sojourners. Has a serious theatrical work performed its task and completed itself with provoking thought in its audience? I think not.  

In the Gilbert’s Green Room following the play, lead actor Stanley Seay spoke of his preparation for the play, which included frank conversations with neighbors and acquaintances about their experience in the military, reliving eyewitness accounts of horror and devastation as well as camaraderie and the thought of someone “having your back.”

In the play, Gerry and Sandra Oxford’s, played by Stanley Seay and Nicki Hart, lives are changed forever by Gerry’s wartime trauma and his struggle for recovery at the famed Walter Reed Hospital. We witness first hand his spiral downward into depression and substance abuse.
Fellow soldier, medic and friend, John Sadler moves to their small town to open a much-needed medical clinic and attempts to rekindle their friendship through scenes of concern and tough love but the dye is already cast.

 The cast describes it best in statements given during an interview with Brandon Herring for WNCN News:

"It's not an upbeat play I'm sorry to say, but I think it's a realistic one," laywright Stephen Miles said. "I hope it makes the audience think about what our nation does in our name and the cost. Whereas I went to Vietnam for two tours, they're going five, six and seven tours. I can't even imagine that."

"It needs to be told. It shouldn't be swept up under the carpet. It shouldn't be ignored,” actor, Stanley Seay said.

"Let's be honest. PTSD is not happy and fluffy. This play could maybe turn that blind eye into an open eye so that they can do something to help their neighbor, or their friend or their family member," said actress, Nicki Hart.

“This play is very visceral and raw,” added actor Sebastian Arroyo.

"This is something that's important to the community,”' said director Brian Adam Kline. "It starts a conversation.”

Lead actors, Seay and Hart are dynamic in their creation of the tension and deep psychological grief experienced by their characters. I commend them on their craft because this type of character analysis and preparation does not come without cost. As a reviewer, I would have liked just one scene of reminiscence between the medic and the wife about the man they both respected and loved. It would have provided the audience with a respite in this depiction of the “storm and stress” of life.

Local physician, Andrew Morfesis stated that he “admired Miles courage in telling this story of which Miles must have had personal experience to be so insightful.” The playwright indeed served as an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam for 18 months in the late '60s and early 1970s and was wounded in combat. He first confronted his military experience onstage with his play "Deros: A Vietnam Trilogy" staged at N.C. State University. The play won a 1986 playwriting award. Scenes from the play were presented during Fayetteville’s “Heroes Homecoming: A Tribute to Local Vietnam War Veterans” in 2011.

Hollow Men runs through July 27 at the Gilbert Theater, 116 Green Street. Call the box office for additional information at 910-678-7186.

Urban Art Exhibit Brings New Faces to the Arts Council PDF Print E-mail
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Written by SONI MARTIN   
Monday, 14 July 2014

uac071614001.gif Urban art as a genre developed out of street art that is directly connected to graffiti culture. In the street art vernacular, words like bomb (to cover an area with graffiti), buff (to erase or remove graffiti from a wall), cross out (place an X over graffiti out of disrespect) and back to back (block of street painted) are understood among the graffiti artists. Although street/graffiti are still relevant, the genre has grown into a broader cross section of artists. The exhibit titled Urban Art: Expressions of an Environment at the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County focuses on different sensibilities across the country and relevant urban themes: response to contemporary urban culture, political issues, use of spray paint, graffiti and/or stencils and use of industrial materials.

Several of the artists in the exhibit are experienced and authentic graffiti artists who have shared new work in the gallery. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know which artists have already exhibited in major national exhibitions, been featured in Juxtapose Magazine, participated in La Biennale (55th International Art Exhibition) or have received major national artists grants and are published. All 11 artists in the exhibit — emerging and mature — bring a unique approach to the themes of the exhibit.

Five local artists were invited to participate: Aaron Wallace, Eric Longley, Jihad Z. Ali, Michael Romagano and Lovell Pulley along with six artists from across the country: JooYoung Choi (Texas), Senghor Reid (Michigan), Kevan Foust (California), Abezash Tamerat (Maryland) and Percy Fortini-Wright (Massachusetts).

In the painting titled “The Masked Phantom,” Fortini-Wright skillfully integrates a figure wearing a gas mask against a gray, stark background. Mixing oil painting techniques with the graffiti vernacular, Fortini-Wright clarifies his intent on his website: “I interpret, depict and decipher the world around and within me … as a graffiti artist I bring that same energy into my pieces, showing a carefree innocence with bold daring marks not distinguishing between a scribble and fully realized object. Using spray paint with the physical nature of the calligraphic mark, my pieces investigate relationships of linguistic entanglement as form. Many times the subjects are letters either tagged or written fast into the pieces elaborately camouflaged into a three dimensional “wild style” form of lettering. Through the ethereal qualities of spray paint juxtaposed with the physical nature of the calligraphic mark I deface my images with words and words with images expressing there limitations and intricate connections.”

Sengor Reid is also a painter in the exhibition and interprets his environment in a way that explores people reacting to the urban landscape. A subtle, political approach, the verisimilitude of the painting charms the viewer; yet the portraits are charged with an electrified state of being.

Reid states on his website how his paintings are like “film stills which document the lives of people in an urban environment … the relentless imprint of human activity in an age of post-industrial age … the capacity of registering the space we are moving through, our conscious or unconscious decisions to ignore, scream, run, escape, destroy or rebuild.”

In sharp contrast, the works by JooYoung Choi promotes the idea of ethnic unity. In the mixed-media work “It’s as Easy as 1-2-3,” Choi surrounds the figure with repeated patterns. “The Transmissions of Pleasure Vision” series is a combination of text on repeated horizontal bands delivering a hopeful message.

Two computer graphic artists in the exhibit have very different approaches. Kevan Foust uses the medium to incorporate his drawing skills into a highly personal message about personal identity; whereas Lovell Pulley is known for his interpretation of the culture at large. Foust’s composition is complicated whereas Pulley reduces his images to a minimalist style.

In a quick-witted manner, Pulley’s “Gangsta Pop” and “Legally, I’m Yo Pusher” are designed in grays with a small pop of color somewhere in the image. Turning a mirror on ourselves, everyone is able see how the artist has reframed roles in our culture.

Jihad Z. Ali brings the traditional graffiti game inside the gallery with his framed works. “No Train, No Gain,” the most ambitious of the Ali’s works being exhibited, exemplifies the cross-cultural phenomenon that is taking place in graffiti art. In this work, Ali breaks his space into horizontal layer07-16-14-cover-story.gifs, each layer is a construction of an identity and communal ideologies are simmering throughout the work.

In stark distinction, the paper works by Abezash Tamerat demand their place in the exhibit. Exceptionally large works on paper are torn, burned and mounted on the wall with map pins. Abstracted, yet still remaining hauntingly figurative, Tamerat’s work is edgy and provocative in a way that cites the potential of material and obscure meaning.

Aaron Wallace is an artist who also emphasizes material — material being the most important element in his work. No reference to a subject, the oozy, puffy and textured abstract paintings rely upon their physicality to become an art object, evoking tactile meaning.

Michael Romagano incorporates spray paint into two of his complicated mixed media works, resulting in images that have a multi-layered essence. When asked about his process, Romagano stated he “places instantaneously what resides in his thoughts through medium and application.”

Eric Longley is the only artist in the exhibit who is exhibiting sculpture and print making. Longley effortlessly moves between relief sculptures and silk-screened monoprints; both mediums incorporate the artists’ gritty, fascination with the heart as a theme, and a three dimensional interpretation of the dripping paint that can often result from spray paint.

Sponsored by Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure and Skin Prik City Tattoo Studio, Urban Art: Expressions of an Environment is an exhibit that remains up until July 19. For information call the Arts Council at 910-323-1776. 


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