For the true artist, life’s little stumbling blocks can serve as a way of getting out of a stylistic rut.
For painter Frank “Buddy” Vaiden, those stumbling blocks have been huge, but the artistic reward of overcoming them has been even bigger.
Vaiden is a Vietnam War veteran who has been diagnosed, at various times, with post traumatic stress disorder, hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder.
“In 1990, I suffered a complete mental and emotional collapse,” Vaiden said. “(My) business was sold to a third party, and I concentrated on becoming stable again. In 1991, at age 41, I started attending St. Pete College in Florida.”
According to Vaiden, it was his brother’s attempt to cheer him up by sending him one of his paintings that got him interested in creating art for himself.
“My brother was a great artist,” Vaiden said. “After he sent me that painting, I got a $10,000 equity loan on my house and made an order from an art supply company. I got my supply and started doing oil paintings.”
That love of oil paintings has led to Vaiden’s latest exhibition, a collection of large paintings created over the past two years. The exhibition will be on display in March at the Mazie Jones Gallery in the Jones House Community Center in downtown Boone.
A reception for the exhibition will be held at the Jones House on Friday, March 2, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Presented by the Watauga Arts Council, both the exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.
After garnering some local publicity through an exhibit at Boone Mall in October 2010, Vaiden decided to pursue an exhibition at the Jones House through the Watauga Arts Council.
“At the Boone Mall show, I sat at a table handing out cards,” Vaiden said. “People would come and look at my paintings. First they would look very closely, and then they would back up. You had to conceive the entire painting. It’s a style that I call ‘interpretive realism.’ If you look at the titles of my works, you can usually get what it is about.”
All of Vaiden’s works in the Mazie Jones Gallery show are for sale, and he said he hopes to sell enough of them to help fund a project that is important to him – the art program at Johnson County High School in Mountain City, Tenn.
“I plan to donate 25 percent of the net profit of the show and from my greeting card company to the high school to establish an art program,” he said. “I’ve been working on that for the past two years.”
Vaiden’s greeting card company is called Mountain City Glove, because it is housed in an old factory that once had that name. He refers to it as a “gourmet greeting card company.”
Prescribed medication from Vaiden’s bipolar condition has left him with shaky hands, and, about two years ago, he switched to painting with palette knives and other instruments.
“My painting is different now,” he said. “I have a harder time painting detailed objects like eyes, but I like how I get a different effect by using the palette knives.”
In addition to being an accomplished painter, Vaiden is also a professional photographer and has written several books.
“Two years ago, I probably didn’t consider myself a painter,” Vaiden said. “Now, I’m in the Jones House, and people are going nuts over this stuff.”
Open Door Gallery
The Open Door Gallery will welcome Joe Bigley from Appalachian State University and his casting students.
The works featured in this exhibition, titled “Casting Call,” are sculptural forms that involve the casting process. Artists featured include students and faculty of the Appalachian State University Art Department, as well as local artists working in casting materials.
Cast bronze, aluminum and iron will be included in the exhibition in addition to experimental or unconventional materials. “Casting Call” will exhibit a range of sensibility of forms and content.
The Serendipity Gallery presents the “Winter Waves” exhibit during the month of March. Marsha Holmes and her students have been busy putting together a new collection of student work as winter waved through the High Country.
Mary Flinn, author of “The One,” “Three Gifts,” and “Second Time’s a Charm,” will be present to sign books at the March 2 gallery reception.
For more information on these events, call the Watauga Arts Council at (828) 264-1789. The Jones House Community Center is located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information on the Watauga Arts Council, visit http://www.watauga-arts.org.