By Sarah Odum
Have ya’ll heard of the “rule of three”? It’s the idea that things that come in three’s are inherently more satisfying, memorable and effective than any other number of things (“ready, set, go”, “lights, camera, action”, etc.). Well, we’ve got a triple decker artist feature for you today! 3 local artists for the price of one! Ka-pow!
These guys are teaming up with our beloved GDAC (Greater Denton Arts Council) to bring you their most recent works, so we sat down with them to chat about their upcoming show, the benefits of “doing art” in Denton, the importance of human conversation, and why Beyonce may or may not be the inspiration for everything. Read on to discover the truth of 3 out of 4 of those things (hint: Beyonce is not one of them).
Composite of the Soul is an exhibition of the recent works of Justin Archer, Erik Beruvides, and Dan Black. These Denton artists have teamed up for a multi-disciplinary show to explore the theme of what it means to be human. If you’ve called Denton your home for any significant length of time, you’ve probably already been exposed to their handiwork. Black is a large-scale muralist, Archer a wood sculptor, and Beruvides a composer of music and visual elements.
Composite of the Soul, which will open at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center this Thursday, is a continuation of an exhibit Black and Archer put on in the Evers Hardware building in the fall of 2015 under the same title. That first show was the beginning of a conversation: a meditation on what makes us who we are - our life experiences and emotions - an attempt to capture those non-tangibles that we all feel as humans. As Archer puts it, “We are really trying to create work that communicates what it means to experience life in different quantities and qualities. It started very literally, with us thinking about very physical or architectural construction of the non-physical aspects. In this show, its become much more open-handed, less literal.” After that successful first show, these two are back at it again, this time adding in a third artist, Erik Beruvides. Beruvides’ work explores similar ideas - that of human emotion and situation - but through an entirely different medium (audio/visual).
The show will feature large custom murals by Black, freestanding and hanging wooden sculptures by Archer, and a visual album (pause for a nod to Beyonce’s Lemonade, everyone!) featuring five different videos, each with original music by Beruvides. Also, this isn’t your average static art show, people. The exhibit will run for four months, with pieces changing over the course of time. As the artists are exposed to each other’s interpretations of the theme, as well as conversations with the audience that attends the show, they’ll be influenced in the evolution of their work, and it will manifest in the show itself. We are definitely fans of this interactive take on art exhibition!
While these fellows have already expanded this important conversation through the addition of Beruvides, the ultimate hope is to open the dialogue to a larger community—to create a much-needed opportunity for connection among people of all walks of life. Archer commented on how most of their pieces somehow involve the figure, and “it seems like people are able to really empathize with that, and a barrier is instantly broken. It feels very satisfying and encouraging that people can enter into the work. They are receiving something, even if it’s different than what we put into it. The whole point is to engage in conversations with people.”
Beruvides also mentions the barriers that the stage or internet put on music, and how he aims to take that away, allowing a chance to connect in a different way, both for artist and audience. Black agrees, saying, “I’m excited to see how people interact with Erik’s music, with media arts, with the history that Erik brings…it will probably reach even more people that our pieces wouldn’t. It’s kind of fun to stretch the ways you can connect.”
We asked these artists what they love so much about this community that they hope to engage. While they each came to Denton by different avenues, their answers have a similar bent. Beruvides started visiting to soak up the music scene, and eventually stayed, encouraged by the musical diversity. “That’s what continues to help me create music,” he says, “knowing that there are people here in Denton who are willing to listen to whatever type of music you’re into, whether that’s jazz or noisy experimental music or underground rap.” Black had family here, and found Denton as a place so saturated with the arts that there was plenty of opportunity to practice his craft. Archer came through the academic route (UNT), and has been impressed with the accessible ways to engage and educate, and the willingness of people to learn. The common chorus? Denton is a city whose exposure to the arts and diversity of people allows for inspiration and growth. Black explains: “People can have these polarized experiences of Denton, but what’s great is that there’s so many types of people, and all people have a human experience, and you can connect with them over that. I had started to think of Denton as only a certain type of person. But what’s cool about it is, it’s not!”
These three artists are unanimous in their goal for the show: that the art has an approachable quality, breaking down walls and allowing for all people to engage with the pieces and with each other. “If people come, I would want them to feel like they can talk to us. To feel like they can tell us what they think a painting is about,” says Black. “We heard so many stories [last time],” adds Archer, “and that was great! We hope for more of that. Because all of our work in some way is narrative.” Beruvides agrees: “There are very distinct stories happening, but they all still follow a narrative. So I’m excited to see how people engage with that.”
These artists clearly hope for conversations to be sparked through the display of their work. We tend to think that through their dynamic pieces and their genuine interactions, this venture can’t fail.
Go check it out for yourselves, and tell them what you think! After all, that’s what they’re asking for. And keep going back over the next several months, to watch the conversation unfold as the pieces change and evolve. See y'all out there!
Composite of the Soul: (ft. Justin Archer, Erik Beruvides, and Dan Black)
Opening Reception, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 6 - 8 PM
Festival Hall, Patterson-Appleton Arts Center
Show runs January 20 - June 3, 2017, FREE