Artopia continues to bring together Birmingham artists
Posted on Oct 24, 2012 in Features
Have you ever seen the stickers around South Side of what appears to be some sort of colorful, fuzzy monster? Yeah? Well Rob Clifton III, a UAB student and local artist involved in the now popular Artopia, designed the surprisingly adorable stickers. When approaching Easy Street last Friday, a long line wound around the building while live music blared from inside. Although Artopoia is still relatively new, it is already gaining a reputation for its paradoxical, yet energized atmosphere in which artists, art lovers, and general twenty-somethings can come to socialize or expose themselves to great up-and-coming local art.
Artopia has, in my humble opinion, done more for the Birmingham art community than almost anything in recent memory. In the way Bottletree has brought together local music lovers who desire more than just mainstream music, Artopia is bringing together an entire community of local, underexposed artists yearning to no longer be stereotyped as the starving artist. Almost everyone at Easy Street seemed to know each other that night, but also seemed welcoming to newcomers, acquainting them to their various paintings, sculptures, prints, and mixed media works.
UAB students, alumni, and enthusiasts were well represented, including Alejandra Garbutt. She said, “My friend Rob Clifton, who is the Artopia Director/Art Manager, saw a couple of my pieces hanging up on the wall in my apartment and told me that he would like them in the show. Excited, I jumped at the opportunity to showcase my art.” She went on, “I think Artopia lets the community gain a better understanding of the creative talent Birmingham artists possess. It’s also about bringing all types of people together. In a sense, it functions as an aspect of Birmingham that locals can be proud of,” she continued. “The Birmingham art community is definitely growing quickly, especially these past few years. Part of this boom is due to us artists uniting as a family and being passionate about making our work known. With Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and other social media sites, we are able to expose art to a wide demographic.”
Also present among the swirling crowd was Ronnie Moore Jr., cofounder of Art-Felt Media, an up-and-coming tee-shirt line that has its roots right in the UAB business building. Since the Kaleidoscope previous published an interview with Moore’s partner Olu Ogunbi, which can be found on insideuab.com, business apparently has been going well. Moore’s table of cleverly designed shirts was certainly getting a lot of traffic that night. But his table was not the only one- the open spaces of Easy Street were packed, sometimes to the point of claustrophobia. But while this was a slight inconvenience for the spectators, it was great exposure for the presenting artists.
There are only three downfalls to Artopia, and one is at fault of some of you readers: Yes, you are in a bar. No, that does not give you an excuse to drunkenly stumble into sculptures that undoubtedly was months of planning and constructing for the artist. It’s rude on a very basic level. Second, as someone who likes to throw herself into a painting myself, I understand that works of art are often labors of love. However, the main audience for Artopia is college-aged and cannot afford to perchance $3000 works, despite the talent of so many of the artists present. In fact, the only works that seemed to actually be selling were under $150. These included mainly prints, photographs, and tee shirts.
The only other issue I maintain with Artopia is just that it doesn’t happen often enough. Every one I have been to has been enjoyable and I often think of the art long after the one-night-event is over. Scheduling around the event is in every way a reality for me as well as many other young artists and art lovers in Birmingham. And with last weekend’s surprisingly large turnout, I have hope that we can continue to present this great local event and bring together the established, and new, local art community.