'Drawing From Life'
Tony Griffin is not trying to convey some convoluted or
abstract message in his portraits or hand sketched drawings.
He just wants you to enjoy the little things that make up the much bigger picture of the world around us.
“Just the pleasure of looking,” Griffin said, when asked what he wants others to take from his work. “My work is about seeing and appreciating everything around us. It doesn’t have to be spectacular. It can be just the mundane.”
Griffin’s latest exhibit, “Drawing From Life” at The Art Cellar Gallery in Banner Elk, eloquently captures the nature of his view on everyday life. The exhibit runs from July 18 to Aug. 10, and Griffin is relishing the chance to display his observations.
“Not a lot of people like to exhibit drawings,” he said. “People are typically more interested in the more expensive paintings.”
In addition to his drawings, the gallery will also showcase some of his landscape paintings and portraits.
“My work is based on real life and things I observe,” Griffin said. “It takes off from there. I experience the world primarily visually. I’m not the kind of painter that tries to tell you a story. My work is more about observation and responding and about looking and feeling.”
Despite a rather simplistic style of creating, Griffin is by no means a novice artist.
When he was 11 years old, he set off for Florence, Italy, where he attended the American International School of Florence. He said his earliest artistic training was influenced by some of the Renaissance’s masters.
Today, Griffin splits his time between Charlotte and a cabin near the banks of the New River in Ashe County.
He said the scenery and tranquility of the river elicit the creative spirit.
“I do a lot of landscape painting (in Ashe),” Griffin said. “It sort of puts me in the landscape. I don’t have to travel to go out and paint. I’m right there in it. I developed a love for that area.”
One of Griffin’s first interactions with the High Country came around the age of 13, when he accompanied his brother-in-law, Ben Long, to Ashe County. Long, a world-renowned fresco painter, created the religious depictions at two small antique churches in Ashe County. Today, tourists and locals alike flock to the church to see the celebrated paintings.
“My godfather was the minister who started the old churches back up,” Griffin said.
From the iconic masterpieces of Italy to the awe inspiring works of the frescoes in the mountains of North Carolina, Griffin is the product of several artistic influences coming together.
He said the title of the exhibit, “Drawing From Life,” is simple, much like his work.
“I titled that … metaphorically and because I work primarily from life,” Griffin said. “My drawings and paintings are bread and butter for me.”
The Art Cellar will host an opening reception for Griffin from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 20. In addition, the gallery is offering an opportunity for portrait commission sittings with Griffin from Aug. 5 to 9. The sittings are for portrait drawings on paper or for oils on canvas, gallery director Liz Brown said, adding that reservations must be made in advance.
To make a reservation, call The Art Cellar at (828) 898-5175 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) The Art Cellar is located at 920 Shawneehaw Ave. in Banner Elk. For more information, visit http://www.artcellaronline.com.