Winston-Salem artist Christian Lannie is one of several artists who have donated art to raise money in an online art auction on June 20 benefitting Mixxer, a community makerspace. Lannie recently returned from a month-long trip in Thailand that had a huge impact on his art. He said when he had to self-quarantine back home, all he could do was paint large, vivid images from his trip. He said he was able to spend lots of time in Buddhist temples and galleries, gawking at the colorful art (with some works towering at 50-60 feet tall) and architecture. He said he had been painting ever since the pandemic hit and social distancing put a stop to his massage business, along with an art show he was going to be in at the Winston-Salem Public Library. When a friend told him about the auction, Lannie donated two of his 12 new paintings to help out.
Lannie, a licensed massage therapist, had gone to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in January to attain advanced training in Thai Massage, along with some much-needed rest and relaxation at the country’s mountains and beaches.
Maneuvering in uncharted territory regarding work is something Lannie has been learning since 2008, when he came “within a stone’s throw of death” after he hurt his back. He said that experience made him think a lot about what was important in his life, and what wasn’t—so, he decided that he didn’t want to go back to working as a corporate banker with large companies. Through his healing process and a series of trying new experiences, Lannie said he began his exploration in art about seven years ago. While he had always appreciated art, he said that in the corporate environment, making art didn’t seem like a possibility.
Lannie paints with acrylics on large pieces of durable, double-primed plywood. He buys 4-foot by 8-foot pieces of plywood from a friend who builds custom frames with repurposed wood, and he cuts them down to halves and thirds. He said he paints what he sees in nature, and melds it with something beyond this planet. Lannie describes his art as being where the “supernatural meets natural.” Lannie said he would force himself to paint if he got frustrated, sad or depressed because when he felt the worst, the best art would come out. Lannie said he paints for the “peace of it all.”
“When I look back to when I got hurt, I had been given so many warning signs,” Lannie said. “Follow your love, follow your passion, and do what turns you on. You’re only here for a brief time, enjoy it. That’s where I’m at, things make more sense when I’m creating, I’m in touch with something bigger than myself.”
Another venture put on hold are his Singing Bowl Meditations for stress, anxiety, and insomnia through his studies with a Thai Nepal sound healing lineage teacher. He said that this is not something you can do online, as you need to be present with the bowls or you lose the vibration. He has an event with his bowls in July (contingent upon things opening back up) while a yoga paddle-boarding teacher instructs his students on the water. Estaman.vip/(which is Namaste spelled backward) is his website where he sells “giggles” via hats and T-shirts “to help adults recognize the BS in each other.”
Lannie said he is looking for barren places to paint murals. His art is for sale (see Instagram), and he accepts commissions. He also sells Buddhist statues that he “fell in love with” in Thailand. When people ask him how he did all of this, he tells them “it is all due to a decade in the making,” and in his experience, creatives are the hardest working people he has ever known.
Elaine Lamson, community events manager of Mixxer, said that since the makerspace was unable to help its members during the stay-at-home mandate, it has been helping frontline workers in the community instead. She said Mixxer has just hit 6,500 pieces of personal protection equipment that will be donated as laser-cut face shields, 3D buckles to hold masks off the ears, as well as medical devices. After using the last of its nonprofit budget, Mixxer is now calling on the community for support and to purchase art at the online auction.
Lamson said that there would be lots of big and small handmade pieces to bid on from sewing to beading to woodworking, and more. All are donated by the artists, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, builders, and enthusiasts that come from as far away as Raleigh to receive hands-on training to use tools in Mixxer’s various labs, along with a strong educational component in teacher-training.
“We have a beautiful community of art makers that are stepping up to help us recoup our losses,” Lamson said. “Anyone can purchase one-day, multiple-day, month or year-long passes plus gift certificates. We also welcome teachers to sign up with us and be paid to teach virtual classes. There are many ways to use our programming.”