Six leaders of lead, gurus of graphite, pros of the pencil - you get the idea - will show off their beautiful and colorless, silvery creations at an upcoming art exhibition at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., appropriately titled "Grey Matters."
The opening reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 5 during other First Friday activities, in Studio 10 on the second floor Center for Creativity Gallery.
Chad Andrews, David Becker, Jordan DeArment, Lawrence Miller, Andrew Norris and Todd Rice are the Pajama Factory tenants who make up the loosely referred to "Graphite Gang." Each will present several graphite-based artworks, from deranged-looking cats to mind-bending abstract drawings.
Shown is a work in the “Black Cat Series” by Chad Andrews, part of “Grey Matters,” an exhibit of graphite drawings opening Sept. 5 at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave.
When an artist begins to, well, make art, the first tool they're introduced to generally is a pencil. Drawing and sketching is an integral part of the artistic process, whether the finished product ultimately is a painting or computer-generated artwork - a rough sketch always comes first.
Many of the Graphite Gang artists focus on other media, like painting, graphic art, photography and more, as they have evolved from the pencil. But there's still a lot of love and nostalgia for an artist when they pick up a pencil again.
The "Grey Matters" show came together after tenant David Becker, who's typically focused only on photography, rekindled his love for drawing this past winter. He made the discovery of "his forgotten 30-year-old drawings after a pipe froze and burst in an attic where they were stored," according to the Factory's press release for the show.
"After a mostly non-drawing life for the last 30 years, I had started drawing again in my little sketch book every morning," Becker said in an email interview. He said that the creative energy and atmosphere at the Pajama Factory inspired him to explore other art outside of photography again. His graphite work, in contrast to his photography work, is more abstract.
"I draw my feelings and ideas, rather than landscapes or portraits," he said.
The exhibit will feature all new works from Becker. According to the press release, "(Becker) de-concentrates and opens up to spaces that leave much to the viewers' imagination, and challenges the veils and perceptions of reality through Zen and surreal compositions."
After that rekindling, he eventually contacted others in the Pajama Factory he knew were interested in graphite, asking if they might want to put a show together.
Like Becker, Todd Rice - mainly a painter and graphic artist - also went back in time only to resurface his interest in graphite work. "Grey Matters" will feature Rice's pencil and graphite work from the early- to mid-'90s. The nearly 20-year-old works have not been previously shown.
However, he said his artwork ties in well with his paintings, which are pretty wacky and tend to include cats and pop culture imagery.
But it would seem that the sketches are more personal. When asked why these 20-year-old graphite artworks have remained hidden until now, though, Rice replied: "Some people keep diaries, I keep sketchbooks. It's a little unnerving to open up your private thoughts to public scrutiny. But it's also strangely rewarding."
While restoring the older work for the upcoming exhibition, Rice was smacked with the graphite nostalgia.
"I do need to amend my artist statement," he said, "as in the process of restoring some of my older work, I got an itch to create some new pieces."
Accompanying the graphite cats will certainly be some graphite dragons drawn by Jordan DeArment, whose studio is called "Dragon's Lair Art." The 24-year-old Williamsport native specializes in fantasy art, which he feels is greatly influenced by his Asperger's syndrome diagnosis.
Andrew Norris will add to the surreal, fantastical compositions with his own take on surrealism through graphite. And Chad Andrews and Lawrence Miller are no strangers to the Williamsport art scene. Andrews' artwork in the show includes the aforementioned deranged cat, pictured above, among others. And Miller will contribute nine 30-by-40-inch graphite drawings, which he says are "larger than my usual fare."
Becker continues to anticipate the First Friday opening reception as it draws near.
"Soon we will be coming together to place our work in the gallery and it will be exciting to see what shows up," he said, "We've had glimpses of what others in the show are doing, but it will be great to see it all come together and how it comes together."
He hopes to see more graphite-oriented art shows in the future; since the show came together, Becker has learned of other lovers of the pencil.