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YES! Weekly launches community coloring book amid COVID-19 crisis to help struggling local artists

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YES! Weekly would not be anything without the artists that call the North Carolina Triad their home. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on us all with the looming financial crisis it has imparted on our community. It has especially been detrimental to local artists, as for the greater part of this year, exhibition spaces have been closed, and all shows and festivals being canceled.

Since YES! Weekly is committed to providing coverage to the arts in our community, we wanted to create a special treat for our readers to enjoy from the safety of their own home that also benefits our talented community of artists, which is why we have just released the YES! Weekly Triad Coloring Book! This coloring book is filled with iconic Triad imagery, and is the first of its kind in the area. Additionally, half the proceeds from its sale goes directly back to the artists that made it happen!

"As the leading arts and entertainment magazine for the Triad, we understood how much COVID-19 had impacted the livelihoods of our many talented Triad artists and we had to do something,” said YES! Weekly’s publisher Charles Womack. “We wanted to come up with something that we felt would showcase and offer a little support, as well as be something that people would enjoy and that would be around for a long time. We put out a call to artists and have some tremendous talent featured. We think we hit the nail on the head."

The coloring book spotlights 19 artists and their drawings depicting their favorite places, people and things that makes the Triad unique.

MEET THE ARTISTS INSIDE

Mixed-media artist Marsha McNeely Hierl is from Winston-Salem, and works with paper, acrylic, linoleum, collages, marbled paper, watercolors and oil/chalk pastels.

“In my spare time, I doodle, Hierl said. “I have been making original coloring book pages at Studio 7 for several years now. Submitting a piece to YES! Weekly allowed me to sketch the ARTC Theatre and make it a permanent reminder of its existence in the Downtown Arts District of Winston-Salem.”

Hierl’s coloring book picture is of the ART-C Theatre, located on West 7th Street, Winston-Salem’s only live theatre in the Downtown Arts District.

“I wanted it to be included so people would be aware of the theatre and its history,” Hierl said. “The Triad is rich in the arts, and it is rich in its old architecture and using existing buildings for new uses. The use of an old welding business for a theatre intrigued me—its bohemian look, both inside and out, add to an interesting experience.”

Hierl said having nobody come view and purchase art has been the most difficult challenge she has faced during the COIVD-19 pandemic.

“I created a new series, ‘COVID Creations,’ while stuck at home for several months,” she noted. “Thank goodness, I have the luxury of going to a studio now, where there are only one or two other people spread around working. I hope to see more people out in the future, visiting the studios and galleries.”

Hierl’s advice for other artists surviving this unprecedented health crisis is to keep painting and drawing.

“Expressing yourself during this troubling time in history is a must, and keep experimenting with new techniques. But most important of all, have fun being creative.”

To see more of Hierl’s work, visit Studio 7, 204 W. 6th St. in Winston-Salem, which will reopen from 11a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays beginning Aug. 8. The artwork of Evan Miller will be on display during the entire month of August.

Digital artist Madelyn Myers is a 15-year-old artist living in Lewisville, who created the portrait of her uncle Frank, the mascot of her father’s car dealership Frank Myers Auto Maxx.

“As a young artist living in the Triad, I need all of the exposure that I can get,” she said of what inspired her to create a picture for the Triad coloring book. “One of the first things I remember from growing up in the Triad was seeing my dad’s Frank Myers Auto Maxx commercials on TV starring him and Uncle Frank.”

Myers said the quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic has been a good time for her to hone her skills and has given her more time to work on her art. Her advice for other young artists is to not quit and keep on creating.

To see more of her artwork, visit Etsy.com, @MadelynsArts.

Multidisciplinary artists, arts writer and arts administrator Bailey Wingler hails from Salisbury but has strong ties to the Triad.

“I attended the prestigious Salem Academy in Winston-Salem and later I graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro,” Wingler noted. “I travel the region regularly and I was so excited when YES!  Weekly announced the idea for this coloring book. In recent years, the city of Winston-Salem has rebranded itself as a city of Ars + Innovation. Today, it looks very different from the ‘tobacco town’ I remember as a young girl.”

Wingler’s drawing is the first one to be seen in the coloring book and is reminiscent of the North Carolina-themed Wrangler Jeans installation at the Piedmont Triad International Airport.

“For my drawing, I wanted to create a piece based on my ‘Small Town Worlds’ collection,” Wingler said. “I drew an abstracted cityscape meant to embody the Winston-Salem that exists today and the future that it inspires among the arts community.”

As a professional artist, Wingler said the pandemic has presented many challenges for her including seeking new ways to generate income.

“While this time has been very hard,  it has also forced the arts community to think in new and exciting ways,” Wingler said. “Since COVID-19, I have begun experimenting with many new mediums: from concrete walls and wooden fences, to the windows of local businesses, I have literally painted the town. I have also been using my artistic abilities to create yard art in an effort to inspire change within my community and partnered with a local arts incubator to distribute free coloring sheets to area children. And perhaps most notably, I have been using art to teach my two children who have been out of school.”

 

Wingler’s next exhibition will be “Windows of Hope” in South Charlotte. For more information about Wingler’s artwork, upcoming exhibitions or monthly arts articles, visit her website.

“My advice to other artists is to take the lead: Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and do something different” Wingler said. “Get to know your community, get involved. The arts have so much power to create real change, compassionate thinking, and inspire the masses.  Don't give up.  Whatever you do, just keep making!”

 

Oil/acrylic painter Carrie Leigh Dickey lives in Winston-Salem said she loves the coloring book because it was an opportunity to be a part of a collective support effort for the community.

Dickey chose to submit her portrait of Winston-Salem’s renowned poet, memoirist and Civil Rights activist, Maya Angelou.

“This woman is amazing,” Dickey said of why she chose to submit this piece of art. “I admire who she was and her work. She spoke at my Salem College graduation. She has left an impact in my and many others lives.”

            Dickey noted that the most difficult aspect of being an artist amid the COVID-10 pandemic has been locating supplies.

“But the joy of creating paired with the freedom and peace I feel while creating has kept me going,” she said. When asked what advice she has for other artists navigating these trying times, she said to “experiment and always create.” 

To see more of her works, visit Dickey’s website.

Middle school art teacher and realistic graphite portraitist Tia Minoski lives in Jamestown and said that she felt inspired to submit her artworks to YES! Weekly’s Triad coloring book “after years of teaching and putting my work to the side.” 

“I have been trying to get my work out there and be more involved in the artistic community around me,” she said.

Her submission of the Greensboro Grasshopper mascot, Guilford reminds her of the Triad because some of her favorite memories of downtown Greensboro have included “good food, drinks, and baseball games.”

The quarantine from the pandemic hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing for Minoski, in fact, she said she is creating now more than ever via art nights on Zoom. To see her works, visit her Instagram page, @minoskiart.

“You will forever be your own worst critic,” said Minoski when asked what advice she has for other artists. “Take a page from Warhol, and ‘let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.’”

Landscape painter and photographer Carolina Corona lives in Winston-Salem and said her passion for making art comes from her love of preserving and protecting the environment, as well as traveling.

“I wanted to contribute to a community project and share my love for the city of Winston- Salem, and especially my alma mater, Salem College,” Corona said. “I created a digital sketch of one of my favorite places around Salem College, the Single Brothers Garden. I love everything about the place, the beautiful flowers, the vegetables, and the old houses.”

The Single Brothers Garden represents her love for the Triad because it is part of the popular tourist spot Old Salem.

“It tells a lot about the history of the place, how people used to live, and the beauty that reminds them of those times,” she noted.

As a full-time artist, Corona said it’s always been a challenge to pursue art even before the pandemic.

“Now that most places where I sell my art are closed and events have been cancelled, I have tried to focus on finding new ways to reach those who love my work.”

Coming up in mid-August, Corona has plans to design a bus shelter in Winston-Salem.

“It will be on Reynolda Road on the bus shelter in front of Old Town Drive,” she said. “It is an environmental statement which highlights North Carolina's plant and animal natives and why we must protect them. I hope you can stop by and see it. If you do, make sure you share and tag @coronafineart on Facebook and Instagram.”

Corona’s advice for other artists is to “not let anyone tell you you can't live out your dream,” she said. “I know society has certain expectations of us but we must break away and create our own reality. It is a challenge, yes, but when I am old I will be able to say I did it!”

Self-proclaimed “crazy artist” Chris Odom Ringuette said he has “dual citizenship” in the Triad by working in Greensboro and living in Winston-Salem.

“I have produced a great deal of art but never for a coloring book, so this was a new challenge to think about creating a design with spacing for someone to add various colors,” he said of the inspiration behind submitting his artwork. “I like trying new things that challenge me!”

Ringuette’s submission was of an Art-O-Mat machine “because I think many do not realize they were started by a Winston-Salem resident and they are scattered all over [the city] with fantastic art inside!”

Ringuette said the COVID-19 has actually helped his art because it has given him more time to spend creating at the studio.

“Before COVID-19 there was always so much going on that it was hard to squeeze in time to really slow down and focus on being creative.”

Ringuette said he is easily-identifiable in the Triad due to his “extremely colorful and unique Art Car!”

To see more of his work, visit his website.

“Don’t compare yourself to other artists and their ‘path’ or training,” he said of his advice for artists. “Any path to art is a good one and no matter how you arrive at being an artist, it is the correct way!”

Watercolor/alcohol ink and illustration artist Christina Becher lives in High Point and works mainly as a freelance artist. Becher said that she loves line-drawing and making images “pop off the page,” so she was instantly inspired to submit to YES! Weekly’s Triad coloring book.

“During this crazy COVID time we are in, I find artwork to be therapeutic and hope that others can find some peace creating their own colorful works with the coloring book.”

She submitted her illustration of Irises at the Greensboro Arboretum because she loves the flowers in the Arboretum’s gardens and thinks it is the perfect place to take a walk and enjoy nature.  “The Triad is such a wonderful area that has incorporated nature into our city living,” she said. “All the parks and green spaces are all around us just waiting for everyone to enjoy.”

Becher said it’s been challenging for her during the pandemic because all of the art festivals she regularly attends and sells artwork have been canceled.

“Not only is this where the majority of my sales are, but it is that connection with anyone who loves art!  I miss seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.”

Since the pandemic has left her art unseen, she has revamped her website and social media outlets to stay in touch with her fans and fellow creators.

 “There are many artists who are having financial difficulties due to the loss of shows, so finding any stores that carry local artists' works is a wonderful way to help keep our arts alive,” Becher said. “Also, this is a great time for anyone to learn a new skill—pick up a pen or brush and play with art—it just may bring a smile to your face when you need it most.” 

Watercolor, acrylic and mixed-media artist Rick Jones lives in Clemmons and is on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Arts District Association, and he got involved because “YES! Weekly is also one of our great sponsors for the DADA 1st Friday Gallery Hop!”

Jones submitted a drawing he did of a photograph from DADA’s first annual Alice in Wonderland- themed Friday Gallery Hop, “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.”

“This drawing features board member Nancy Smith as the Red Queen, Event Coordinator and Immediate Past President (2017-19); Marilyn Ingram as the March Hare; and myself as the Mad Hatter,” Jones said about his drawing. “Our current President Allison Hutchins, always plays Alice.”

Jones said his submission reminds him of the Triad because Winston-Salem is known as the City of Arts and Innovation, and his drawing is a scene from the heart of the downtown arts district.

“Being mostly dependent on walk-in customers, the gallery has greatly suffered from customers staying home,” Jones said about the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the Winston-Salem art community. “I keep going by keeping my good attitude knowing this pandemic is temporary.”

Jones said he would encourage tourism in Winston-Salem because that will help kickstart the area’s economy again.   

“Visitors and tourists are the ones who have discretionary money to take a token back home. Our town is clean, friendly and interesting and it would help all commerce here when the pandemic allows.”

As far as advice for other artists navigating this tough time, Jones said to be prepared to “bounce back” after the pandemic is over.

“This virus thing has proved to be a real nightmare, but there should be a ‘bounce back’ after all of this is over and it should be rapid,” Jones said. “Most people I talk to believe the same and agree. I would say just be prepared with your work and skills when the rebound occurs.”

Kelly McCollum, a traditional artist specializing in portraiture, is living with her active-duty military husband in Honolulu, Hawaii, but has roots in the Triad.

“I grew up [in Greensboro], my first job was at the Natural Science Center, and I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro,” she noted. “The piece I submitted to the YES! coloring book features my dad, Rob McCance. He delivered the mail downtown for many years, and when the post office tried moving his route, numerous businesses started a campaign to keep him put - and it worked! My father is outgoing, personable, and has a smile or joke for everyone. He touched many lives and is the epitome of Greensboro, to me. He even is continuing his letter delivery legacy by working in the mail department at UNCG.”

McCollum said it has been difficult for her to focus on making art during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Life felt too heavy and too serious—art seemed frivolous,” she said. “However, as time went on, I realized that art serves many purposes, and how important it was to keep creating, not only to bring others joy but to keep myself sane during trying times.”

Creating has been keeping her going during the COVID crisis because “I always look forward to making artwork that celebrates people and their cherished memories.”

To see more of her work, check out her website.

“I appreciate YES! Weekly giving local artists a chance to come together to celebrate our community.”

Laura Thomas is a graphic artist from Greensboro who heard about the Triad coloring book from her old high school friend, Candise Zimmerman. Thomas created the illustration of a girl hula hooping because it reminded her of her friend, Tammy Harrell Shearer hooping at the Summer Solstice in Greensboro’s Lindley Park Arboretum. 

“That’s a local event that occurs on or around June 20th or 21st, and the entire park turns into something like a small festival,” she said. “It brings the community together and is a lovely event.”

Thomas said she lost one of her jobs during the pandemic, but quickly found new creative projects. Family, faith and art, has been keeping her going.

“Take good care of yourself,” she said of the advice she’d give to other artists struggling during this time. “Try not to let people take advantage of you and your talent. Stay healthy and stay strong. Use your talents for good!” 

Wanna get one?

YES! Weekly’s Triad Coloring Book is available now online for $25, with half of the proceeds going directly to the contributing artists. Coloring books are limited-edition, so order yours now!

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