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May 4, 1999

On Being an Artist in Mobile

A Statement from Some of Our Contributing Artists

(Click on any picture to see a larger version)

Fred Marchman

Being a modern fine artist in a traditional town such as Mobile is fraught with frustration. As a younger man I was very ambitious. I am still ambitious even in the face of discouragement and doubts. It seems as though it's a matter of focus upon the victories or upon the defeats. The older I get, the harder it is to focus on the victories. I try to steel myself against the defeats I've experienced in the pursuit of my life's work, Art. I have to admit I am competitive -- to a point. I'm a contestant.

As in gambling, you can't win if you don't enter. I enter a fair number of contests because I can't depend on any gallery to sell my work at the rate I need to. Winning is good for the ego. Selling is also good for the ego as well as for finances. I do not have a hard-working spouse to back me up, as some artists do. Nor was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth. When people ask me how I'm going with my art career, I usually tell them, "Well, I get by. I manage. I survive."

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John Chamblin (written by Fred Marchman)

Chamblin has always worked at a day job, painting on evenings or weekends or days off. This way he can do art for art's sake, and thus allow himself to create with unhampered freedom. He is not bound by demands of the marketplace.

He is not a commercial artist who must please the whims of a client. He prefers to be free to paint what he likes, not what he has to paint. Oddly, Chamblin's day job for the past 25 years has been as a film processor. That's odd because he does not own a camera nor is there anything photographic about his painting style.

Wanda Sullivan

It is by choice that I live and work in Mobile. Mobile has very conservative tastes when it comes to art, but I am more than willing to educate the community by introducing new ideas and concepts. Many new changes are on the horizon: the expansion of the museum, new arts publications and a budding interest in contemporary art. Atlanta and New Orleans did not create themselves, the people did. We can list shortcomings all day long or we can work to make things happen. I choose the later.

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Stephen Savage

I'm from Washington, D.C. Artists there are just like here, in the sense that they complain about the local art scene and the lack of buyers and galleries that will look at their work, and the museums not showing local artists. I moved to Mobile, in part, to lower my overhead so I could work more as an artist. Working as an artist in Mobile is not much different than working elsewhere. Like other places, there are landscapes, influences and subjects that you won't find in any other place. I'm experiencing growth and finding tremendous response to my work. I think that working as an artist, in any place, is like life. You get what you put into it.

Sheila Hagler (photograph by Toth)

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Clair Loper

If I was going to talk about my work I would have to use the word parable, defining this word as "a simple story illustrating a spiritual awakening." My style: a little credit to David Hockney, Edward Hopper, and tons to Van Gogh. My beginnings: I learned to see from Fredrick Lawyer, my teacher, who opened my eyes to the tools and rules, and then told me, "Now you can break them." And, of course, last but not least, the Harbinger and eight years of illustrating articles, a training ground that I would recommend to any artist, young or old, who wants to belong to a creative brainstorming group.

Pieter Favier

The human race is experiencing essential changes in perception of time, information, travel, communication and personal identity. During an uncertain time of massive social, political, cultural and technological upheaval, the visual arts can help ground us. It can say or question who or what we are.

As an artist, I remain dedicated to the future of the arts and the vigorous role it has in our society. Through hard work with an open and inquisitive mind, one can move forward and evolve equally as an educator and an artist.

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The Harbinger, P.O. Box U-980, Mobile, AL 36688-0001