Gallery spaces south of Forsyth once again participated in the First Friday Art March on the evening of June 7.
Foxy Loxy Print Gallery and Café hosted a reception for work on view there this month, a collection of mixed media works on paper titled "Unnamed Places" by local artist Benjamin Stanley. Additionally, the folks at Foxy threw a thank-you party that night to show their appreciation for the successful Kickstarter campaign that permitted the coffeehouse's upstairs expansion.
Owner, artist and SCAD printmaking professor Jennifer Jenkins was busy upstairs prepping for the night, but took a few minutes to chat about the goings-on at Foxy.
With the flood of espresso-addicted students from the nearby SCAD outpost Arnold Hall having receded, Jenkins and her staff find themselves finally able to catch their collective breath. The weekend after SCAD's graduation thus proved the perfect time to show off the renovation.
Upstairs continues Foxy's familiar look, which is marked by a decidedly disciplined brand of eclecticism. Generously sized windows allow ample light in, and a door leads out to a second-floor porch that only adds to the venue's already generous outdoor spaces.
The renovated second floor's focal point is a burlap proscenium Jenkins calls "the band shell." More than a cozy nook in a warm space, the structure will serve as a stage for spoken-word acts and small band performances in the future.
'Staff Infection' at Desotorow, Inc.
Foxy Loxy has made a measurable impact on Savannah's midtown neighborhoods over the course of the last two years.
Better put, Foxy is part of a network of creative and strategic thinkers who aim to redefine the area south of Forsyth Park. Following suite, Desotorow Gallery is redefining itself as Desotorow, Inc., 501(c)(3) art agency concerned with social change and community development.
Director Clinton Edminster was on hand to discuss those changes at Desotorow's "Staff Infection" show, which offered viewers works by the organization's dedicated volunteers and staff.
Edminster expanded on the ambitions he shared in an interview featured in Gallery Hop on April 24, 2013. In the six weeks since that interview, he's led Desotorow's rebranding initiatives, which include a new mission statement, added volunteer staff, an enhanced leadership role with the monthly Art March and some secret projects in the works that will be revealed over the summer.
According to its new mission statement, Desotorow, Inc. will "research and understand the local economy, create opportunities for artists to pursue creative and financial goals, provide resources to artistic groups and individuals, and showcase local art to promote a sustainable creative economy in Savannah, GA."
The folks at Desotorow and at related spots like Foxy are proving that a synergetic relationship between the arts and local business can and will lead to the revitalization midtown Savannah is begging for. Today's research into ways to create a sustainable market infrastructure through the sale and exhibition of art will contribute to a thriving midtown community tomorrow.
A range of mediums on view seemed to complement Desotorow's integrated approaches to community development. Ty Derousseau's large-scale painting of a male figure with a gun to his head, with vibrantly colored exit wound matter reducing the shock of the subject matter, captured attention at the gallery's entrance. Lynne Ellen's small prints of housing structures emerging from the slop of consumer waste were understated critiques of heightened consumerism, and Jordan Acosta's plaster and wood accumulations made for a nice contrast between reaching branches and plaster sculpted into caressing hands.
The show's standout piece was without doubt Steven Miller's apron, presented on a dress form, which featured a head-turning print. A muscle-bound Uncle Sam spoke out to viewers suggestively, saying, "I Want YOU!" as never before. Revolutionary heroes scantily-clad and well-equipped with fife and drum rounded out Miller's laugh-out-loud, updated take on late 18th-century garb.
In sum, then, with humor, candor, fine materials and a distinctive vision, creative minds from all corners of the neighborhoods south of Forsyth are individually making a powerful collective point: if Savannah is to make any claims to a regional or national leadership position in culture and commerce, then its elected leaders, institutions and average citizens alike must support midtown's network of artists and business owners and their innovative revitalization efforts.