Busy, busy, busy.
It is our mantra.
But with her portrait and street scene photographs, Alexandrea Thomsen hopes to slow us down, to get us to look and acknowledge the places and faces we may encounter at a grocery store, on a subway, in a dance hall -- especially those faces and those lives that differ somewhat from our own.
Artist George Spencer has something similar in mind. His his works invite us to look afresh at the faces of antiquity.
Both artists have works on display through July in Carrboro's living room, the Open Eye Cafe, 101 S. Greensboro Street.
The faces in Thomsen's photographs faces that belong to people who inhabit various subcultures, such as punk and goth.
Thirty of Thomsen's photo-graphs are on exhibit through July. A reception is scheduled for July 11, beginning at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the 2nd Friday Artwalk. Live music by Monologue Bombs starts at 8 p.m.
"I want to capture a moment, tell a story so hopefully people will pay attention to a movement going on," Thomsen said. "I hope this helps create a sense of community, helps foment understanding and respect, so people don't just say, 'I'm not into that' or 'That is just weird,' but have a glimpse into those worlds."
Take her photograph of her good friend Kara O'Dour titled "Scream" as an example. O'Dour has a radio show, "Clockwork Cabaret," on WCOM, Carrboro's community radio station. A few weekends ago, Thomsen and another photographer were invited by friends to photograph The Clockwork Ball, a social gathering of folks involved in the subculture movement called steampunk. Thomsen explained that steampunkers dress in turn of the century clothing -- think Kate Winslet in "Titanic" -- and wear accessories with lots of industrial parts. For people who are involved, it can be an alternative universe to play in based on the idea that the steam engine never stopped being used.
"I think a lot of average people don't know about this," Thomsen said.
Now we will, and it can't help but pique one's interest.
Thomsen also hopes that through her photographs she can let people know that subcultures today are alive and well, even though many of their elements -- consider hip hop, for example -- have been capitalized on and co-opted by the mainstream.
"So many different arenas see making it about money instead of ideology or morals or creativity," Thomsen said. "It has become the Gap, I-Pod, telling the next generation, this is what you need to buy. Unfortunately, that takes away from the whole subculture aspect, that this is something people purchase and pose in instead of having it by dint of their circumstances."
All of the portraits in the show are mounted on found metal. The works that Thomsen calls her Street Style photographs, such "Art," shot in an abandoned railroad factory in Decatur, Ga., are mounted with electrical tape on old 12-inch vinyl records.
"Somebody said to me that 12-inch records were a thing of the past," she said. "They were dead. I said, that with all due respect, Billie Holiday on a 12-inch or 78 is different and better than Columbia Records can put out."
Far from being dead, old things like vinyl records, manual typewriters and other items are finding new life in the hands of young people in various subcultures.
"They are finding new ways to commandeer it, appreciate it," Thomsen said. "Yard sales are gold, brilliant to a new generation.
"Art can be beautiful but I also want to make people think. I am hoping that people are receptive and open to a new perspective, whether or not they are going to do something about it."
Thomsen owns AT Photography and can be contacted at 685-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Open Eye's side gallery, George Spencer is exhibiting 14 pencil and graphite portraits that should give people a new way of considering the old, as well -- in this case, classical Greek and Roman sculpture.
"If you look at the pieces, they don't look like drawings that I did of statues," Spencer said. "They look like they could be Joe Smith walking down the street, though one of them is clearly part of a frieze. My hope is that people will not realize they are based on ancient models but Roman generals I just saw on the street."
Spencer has long used his creative talents to write prose and poetry and just recently took up visual arts, inspired by his 11-year-old daughter Margaret. An artist herself, she has immersed herself in a book about drawing she received as a gift.
"She is really good," Spencer said. "I kept looking at her things and saying if she can do it, I can do it. I had to try. I went down to the art store and asked them to sell me a bunch of stuff. Now my 11- year-old and I critique each other's work. She brings her friends over and they critique my work. She needs to have a show of her work."
True to his background as a man of words, Spencer has added words to each of his drawings. Words like entartung, mnesarete phyrne and zwischenraum from various non-English languages. Spencer said they have no obvious relationship to the images they accompany -- and maybe that's part of the point. I once read that if you put two objects together that have absolutely no relation to each other, they will begin talking. Spencer has started some marvelous conversations.
The mysterious, glorious power of art, here created with a camera and with pencil and graphite, strikes again.
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