Downtown Boone Art Crawl Friday

Article Published: Mar. 3, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Downtown Boone Art Crawl Friday

Think heavy line work framing bold color choices in a mesh of Warhol-esque realism and cartoons you'll recognize. It's Tommy Lee's "The Real Charlie Brown" series at Artcrawl.

Photo by Lauren K. Ohnesorge

Art Crawl returns Friday with the usual mesh of art music and refreshments, but there's a twist.

Think comfort cartoons juxtaposed with thought provoking images. And don't forget to add in some function to your form. We talked with Art Crawl highlighters Tommy Lee (the Nth Gallery) and Patti Carmen Whitehead (Doe Ridge Pottery).

Tommy Lee

For well-dressed Miami-bred artist Tommy Lee, aka Sir Tom Foolery (, Boone is more than the next phase in an already interesting life. It's home.

While Lee, an Atlanta College of Art alum, has only lived in Boone eight months, his is already a face you might recognize, be it in his residency capacity at the Nth Gallery on King Street or by his dance moves at the Boone Saloon.

It's his unique capture of color, however, in a new series premiering Friday at Boone Art Crawl that will have you captivated.

Think heavy line work framing bold color choices in a mesh of Warhol-esque realism and cartoons you'll recognize. It's his "The Real Charlie Brown" series.

Gazing at an image of an African native holding Charles Schulz's iconic Snoopy by a leash, it's easy to see why Lee has so quickly engaged Nth attention.

"I'm particular about color," he said. "I don't really follow the color wheel and what constitutes balance ... I just pick up the color that feels right at the time and use that color."

Think bold reds and piercing blues, a cartoon pop-art feel that's startlingly realistic in its detail.
Lee, like everyone else, grew up on Schulz's "Peanuts" series.

"This series actually came from a conversation that I was having with a friend about some of ... people's perception on Africa," he said. "That prompted a sketch, and the series started to evolve from there."

And take on a life of its own.

"We were talking about how it would look if our social norms about culture and about race were sort of flipped on its head," he said. "What would happen, for example, if there was a series and in that series everything that traditionally a woman would do, you saw men doing."

It's a discussion he took into consideration in his series, with the cartoon and Caucasian Schroeder framed by music icon Michael Jackson.

It's the familiarity of characters like Snoopy, Schroeder and Charlie Brown that Lee was drawn to, a unifying part of the conversation. "The more I started painting, the more I started to realize," he said.

Take the image of Snoopy on a leash.

"Snoopy has never been on a leash," Lee said. "He has always had free range to make his own decisions in the story, almost like the wise character, and for him to be on a leash, it's a juxtaposition in itself ... and this African kid has him on this leash, and I think it speaks to a lot of our culture today where we are in this country as far as race relations, as far as cultural relations, what's considered the norm."

And juxtaposition happens to be one of Lee's favorite words, evidenced by a second series he's showing Friday, "Kill Them with Kindness," where the harsh potential violence of a gun contrasts sharply with flowers and streaming colors smoking from the barrel.

Perhaps almost as intriguing as the subject matter are the materials. Snoopy is painted on what used to be a door.

"I wanted most of the pieces ... to be found objects, because it's easy to go out and buy a canvas and stretch it ... but when you have found objects, they sort of already come with their own story, and you have to really ponder on it ... it stretches the piece more," he said.

Add in a "Did you clean your mess?" sign he found in rubble and utilized in his third series on display, "Humble Pie," and you'll see what he means about found objects telling their own stories.
And it's all about that post-show conversation.

"Usually, I learn a lot more about the piece just by giving people free range to interpret it how they want to," he said. "I really hope that people go home and think about how they connect and how they coexist to society as a whole, and not just here in the States, but the fact that everything that we buy, everything that we consume ... is affecting some person in some part of the world."
And Friday, his art will be directly affecting the High Country.

Patti Carmen Whitehead

Friday, potter Patti Carmen Whitehead brings her studio to Doe Ridge Pottery.

"I've been here for a year," she said of her snug structure off Snaggy Mountain Road.

Nestled in her workshop, complete with kilns, work tables and rows and rows of crafted stoneware, Whitehead is the definition of at-home.

"I started making pots 10 or 12 years ago," she said, and Bob Meier helped make it happen.
It was Meier, owner and operator of Doe Ridge Pottery, who taught that first class a decade ago.
"And then I took class after class after class," she said.

It became more than an obsession. Pottery became a passion.

"It's one of those things," she said. "You start waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what you want to make and what you want to glaze."

And, like many passionate artists, Whitehead made the decision to sell her work once she realized clays and glazes were emptying her bank account.

And now it's more than a hobby. It's a job. "A potter's life is you have to love what you do," she said.
And that's obvious in her productivity.

"What I make is functional stoneware," she said. "I want my pots to be used. I want them to be handled. I want them to be comfortable to hold, comfortable to use, comfortable to drink from ... Aesthetically functional pieces are really my goal."

And she'll never stop learning to perfect her technique. Even now she's enrolled in a pottery class at Appalachian State University.

ASU, after all, is the reason she fell in love with the High Country 25 years ago. "I went to school here," she said.

And an interior design degree later, she was still looking for her life's passion. "When I started making pots, everything started to click," she said.

And now she's just trying to share her art, displaying both at Doe Ridge and at ArtWalk.

Friday, as the featured artist at Doe Ridge Pottery (585 W. King St., Suite D), she'll be displaying her smooth and aesthetic brand of functional stoneware, focusing on hand-built pieces. Think salt and pepper shakers, creamers, sugars and a teapot.

"I love to throw at the wheel, but I'm just trying to have a little different focus, to sort of expand myself," she said.

After all, continuing her artistic education is what she's all about. That and creating some really great pottery. For more information, visit

Art Crawl Roundup

Hosted every first Friday of the month, Boone's art crawls see area galleries and businesses open their doors in celebration of local artistry.

Art of Oil, 222 Howard Street, a tasting gallery for gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars, hosts Ciara McCaig's photographpy from 5 to 8 p.m. Expect a buy one 375 ml bottle and get one half off special.

The Custard Depot, 228 Howard St., is offering a free topping with any size purchase of custard for crawlers.

Nth Gallery, 683 W. King St., hosts Atlanta-turned-Boone artist Tommy Lee.

The Jones House Community Center, 604 W. King St., features the photography of Lynne Townsend in its Mazie Jones Gallery. The Open Door Gallery hosts the works of Studio Crew, a group that meets to paint in John Bond's studio at the Art Mart Academy.

Art Walk, 611 W. King St., features the work of Berlin-born painter Moni Hill.

Doe Ridge Pottery, 585 W. King St., features Patti Carmen Whitehead of Patti Carmen Pottery.

Anna Banana's, 641 King St., hosts jeweler Stacy Phillips' "Cute Things for Cute People." Additionally, AB is offering 10 percent off any purchase made during Art Crawl. Expect food by Char and free wine.

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, 423 W. King St., has three exhibitions on display: Children's Art of the High Country in its Catwalk Community Gallery, "In the Void" by sculptor David Meyer and "The Hemlocks! The Hemlocks!: Grief and Celebration" by Lowell Hayes.

Gladiola Girls, 549 W. King St., is having a "Passing of the Crown" event to welcome new owner Renee Furman and raise a toast to GG creator Kristen Hall. It happens from 6 to 8 p.m. The featured artist is John Lee, a local talent who started off by doodling.

Vidalia, 831 W. King St., features wine by the glass specials and free amuse bouché (chef's choice).
Glug Beer and Wine, 432 W. King St., is having a beer and wine tasting for crawlers. The featured brew? Highland Brewing Company from Asheville. Expect free munchies.

The Bead Box, 585 W. King St., hosts a full live arts performance, "Diversions," from 7 to 9 p.m. Expect an evening of juggling, tribal/burlesque/fusion belly dancing, hula-hooping and a partner yoga balancing act from the likes of Ancient Moon Belly Dance, AppState Juggling Club, Bellirosa Belly Dance, Hoopla Hoops with Anna Johnson, and Gregory Guay Partner Yoga.

641 rpm, 691 W. King St., is hosting a DJ dance party at Black Cat Burrito, 127 S. Depot St. The show, called "Squishy," features guest DJ Romulo Del Castillo who started and runs the Miami-based label, Schematic.

Char, 179 Howard St., hosts DJ music and dancing from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. with drink specials.
Macado's, 539 W. King St., offers $3 con quesos and cinnamon sensations all day (dine-in only).

Antiques on Howard, 199 Howard St., invites crawlers to stop by and check out 6,000 square feet of furniture, antique tools, glassware, coins, vintage jewelry and much more. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Capone's Pizza & Bar, 454-B W. King St., is offering free Breadsticks with a large specialty pizza from 5 p.m. until closing.

Other regularly participating galleries and businesses include beansTalk, Boone Saloon, Capone's Untouchable Pizza, Mast General Store, Macado's, The Collective on Depot, the Downtown Boone Post Office, Green Mother Goods, Open Door, Lucky Penny, Café Portofino, Bulldog's Beer and Wine, Hands Gallery, Downtown Boone Development Association, Boone Drug, Cha Da Thai, Ink Link Tattoos, Our Daily Bread, Earth Fare, Black Cat Burrito, Footsloggers, Jungle Boogie, Harmon's Dixie Pride, Paolucci's Italian Bar and Grill, the Shoppes at Farmer's Hardware, Shear Shakti, MC Adams Clothier, Modern Rustic, Looking Glass Gallery, Fat Cats Music & Video, and The GreenHouse.

The Downtown Boone Art Crawl lasts from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., though shops typically close at 7:30 p.m. The monthly event is sponsored by the Downtown Boone Development Association Public Art Program. For more information, call (828) 262-4532 or visit

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