Gallery presents street artists

Three men observe painting

Senior art students, Matthew Espinoza, Dillon Raborn and Deven Jackson, observe
work by former street artist Chic Connell. Connell is from Nashville, Tn. and
transformed his former street art painting styles into a unique gallery exhibit.
The Lion's Roar / Megan Ferrando

The original and vibrant designs of street art found their place in the Contemporary Art Gallery. Artists Joseph Staples and Chic Connell were featured in the multi-artist series in the gallery featuring “Street Art to Gallery Art” Oct. 16. The series will remain open until Nov. 7 and also showcase a video gallery by Lisa K. Blatt and an Alumni Designers Exhibition.

Both Staples and Connell were once street artists who moved their work to the gallery while preserving their street art style. 

“I was just being a kid with too much energy,” said Staples. “I was into just exploring and being a part of the city. I used to wander around at night and see what was going on and it’s good to have something to do when you’re out there. That was kind of how I got started and then you get interested in making stuff.”

Staples transitioned into gallery art through opportunities that came his way. He received an opportunity to work on the exterior of building through architecture in Vancouver.

“That kind of let me know that there are opportunities and that there was another way for me to work that still made sense,” said Staples. 

Students came to the gallery, enjoying the various works and drawing inspiration.

“Joseph Staples is an interesting example for university students, especially because he never actually went to college for art,” said Maudie Cusimano, senior art major and CAG student worker. “Working with Joseph Staples is a big influence, just seeing his motivation and his techniques. He has a lot of interesting play with materials.”

As well as receiving personal influence from Staples, the artwork itself of both Connell and Staples left for much enjoyment and appreciation among those in attendance.

“I like the painting a lot. I mostly like the brush strokes within them and the color choices,” said junior Jenna Hildebrand. “It all just seems very raw and kind of impulsive. And as far as Joseph’s work, I like how intricate all the designs are. It seems like it took a lot of time.”

Blatt’s work, entitled “Spinning on the Enola Gay Runway Until I Make Myself Sick,” showcased photography in video form.

The Alumni Designers Exhibition was guest curated by photojournalist and graphic designer Tony Romain. He found other former students and showcased their work in the exhibit. 

“We really did it as a Homecoming thing,” said Cusimano. “So it’s to celebrate Southeastern and bring back people who have gone from the program and are working in the field.”

When asked what is important for rising artists to remember, Staples narrowed it down to one word.

“Determination,” said Staples. “Just not stopping once school’s done or stopping once their painting studio credit has been fulfilled. Don’t drop the studio. Just continue working. I’m not that much better than anyone I started working with, but they mostly quit. I’m still around.”

CAG is open each week 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. To contact the gallery, call 985-549-5080.