An invitation to share my work in a public place is always exciting. Heath and Krystal Browning allowed me two separate displays at their former Mattoon restaurant, Bidwell's. The first one was my High Note Piano Series. I used to have this glorious piano as part of my outdoor studio. Even though I stripped the varnish and gave it three coats of poly, the sun baked her up pretty good. (insert very sad face right here__). She was falling apart and quickly.
Just a few days before my sons took a sledge hammer to it, I took photos of every angle. It was a beautiful summer day and it just so happened that a few random wildflowers grew around it which made it perfect.
A few months later, Dano Reible asked if I would like to have a display at his place of business, Jackson Avenue Coffee House. (See video below). Even sold one of the pieces there!
I wanted to do something totally different from anything I had ever done before so, I created the Bearded Wonder Project. Twenty-five men volunteered to become my muses. It's my favorite endeavor to date. Once again, the owners of Bidwell's were open to my displays. I took it a couple steps further by having an event including a dinner, radio coverage, and WCIA's ClLiving came to my studio to interview myself and one of the Wonders and even came to the event. Jeramy Buckles was also interviewed (in a video below).
At the event, the men were available so guests could have their photos taken with them. With his harmonica, Bill Belleau entertained us all with his version of Chicken Train. It was a successful and fun time! I am still so very thankful to Heath and Krystal.
I loved and enjoyed the Beards so much that I thought decided to do a Tatted Wonders series as well. I was on the hunt for the most tatted up folks around. The most interesting and fun was Cindy Davidson of Paris, IL. She is a woman who is so colorful that you just want to stare (but don't. It's rude!) Head to toe, Cindy has tatts everywhere except her derrière (because she can't see it). I wanted to show, through my lens, what she looks like without tatts by covering her entire face and neck with makeup. Lots of it. She was not happy with it on. You can even see it in the portraits. Then, I asked her to remove half of the makeup to show the difference. It was then that her smile was coming out. Once all of the makeup was off she was all smiles. Please watch her video below.
Lewis Whitrock was a joy to photograph as well. If I would have met him while he was at work I would have never known he has not one tattoo let alone entire sleeves, chest, and full back tatts! He has made sure that while he is at his job that his tatts are not visible.
Billie Lawrence told me that people are so surprised at how nice and mannerly she is even with all of her tatts.
Rico Thomas told me that his tatts serve as a force field of sorts. They keep most people completely away from him.
Harlo Watkins, a talented welder, created a camera out of scrap as a gift to me. I was floored by his creativity and thoughtfulness.
Moral of the story is you may never know who you encounter, who may be a walking billboard of art on their bodies. They are just more colorful, as Cindy Davidson says.
Their portraits were displayed at the Jackson Avenue Coffeehouse. Dano put a notice in the newspaper and on social media sites for the event. Cindy, Billie, and Harlo came to the event to see the display. It was a great evening.