Hobbyists, full-time artists come together at Durham Art-a-Thon

Rick Grime puts the finishing touches on a canvas painting. (Staff photo by Alex Zietlow)

When members of the Durham art community — creators and appreciators alike — stepped into the Durham Art Guild on Morris street on a recent weekend, their voices lowered to a whisper.

A soft hum of chatter layered under the sound of acoustic ukulele strings. The artists stood at their respective tables and touched up their crafts while people filtered in and out and observed them. Special fabric, sweatshirts with unique designs, jewelry, hand-carved wooden bowls and acrylic and abstract portraits were on sale.

The diversity of artwork available to the public was created by an assortment of talent at the Durham Guild’s 2017 Art-A-Thon. Some devote their lives to their craft. Others apply their creative passions to a side business.

At the end of the day, artists from all walks of life were all in the same place.

Jill Davis, a photographer who mounts her images on a variety of media, has had a booth at the art show for years. As the owner of her business, Orange Cat Art, Davis had postcards, tote bags and other objects with her photos — that range from North Carolina landmarks to moments in nature — digitally placed on them.

“I just shoot what I like and hope it speaks to other people,” Davis said.

Davis is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna who graduated from the university’s journalism school, which is where she learned how to compose photos and edit them in different imaging software.

Taking pictures, however, is just a side gig to her full-time job in another field.

“This is my hobby because I love it,” Davis said.

Rick Grime, a painter who inks colorful, basic designs on canvas, sat in the near left-side corner of the first-floor gallery. He said he doesn’t necessarily know the genre of his artwork — which primarily includes pieces that resemble minimalist, modern artwork — he just paints the shapes and sees if they work together to form a cohesive image.

“I’ve known what I wanted to create,” he said. “I just didn’t know how to.”

Grime originally went to college to study psychology and education, but he said he enlisted in the military after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. After his time in the military, he realized that creating artwork was something to which he wanted to devote his time and resources.

John Bauman, a patron who has been attending art shows like this throughout his life, said one of his favorite parts about going to art show events like the Durham Art-A-Thon is seeing all the artists and their passions on display.

“We all have a creative streak in us, but these artists cultivate and share their passions,” he said. “Not all of them do this full-time, either. There are many shapes and sizes of artists represented here, but they all share a love of art and a passion for making it in common.”

Tucked away in the corner of a long hallway lined with bright, surreal paintings, a quote by the late Ella Fountain Pratt — a patron and organizer of the arts in the Durham community who is honored in the Durham Guild — is on the wall.

“If there’s one soapbox I could get on and talk the rest of my life, I would say: This is important, ladies and gentlemen. Give our children opportunities to learn, to do, to appreciate, to sing, to dance, to draw, to write.”

No matter who you are or what you do, Pratt believed you had the right to explore art.

And that sentiment is foundational to the purpose of this annual art event.