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ImageHey Everyone, we are super exited to announce this event! Sam Flax will be hosting a one-day calligraphy workshop with former White House Calligrapher, Rick Paulus!  We’d also like to thank Emily Canter and The Atlanta Friends of the Alphabet Calligraphy Guild for setting this up! For a supply list and more information, visit samflaxsouth.com. Here are some the details:

From Sam Flax and The Atlanta Friends of the Alphabet Calligraphy Guild
A One-Day Calligraphy Workshopwith Former White House Calligrapher, Rick Paulus
Calligraphy in the Digital Age
Where: Sam Flax Academy (upstairs)
When: Wednesday, January 29th
Time: 9:00am to 4:00pm
Cost: Only $65
To Reserve your place call Emily Canter at 678-463-7500 or email emily@cantergraphics.com.
Payment in advance to hold your spot – credit card, check, or cash
 
Description:
Rick Paulus explores calligraphy in the digital age by first taking us on a fascinating journey through time to creatively illustrate not only the shapes and mechanics of the letters of the Roman alphabet, but calligraphy’s significant role in the progress of man. As we enter the twentieth-century, we explore in more detail the significant changes that have taken place over the past century, and the work of those who have been instrumental in this transition. Drawing from his own experience transitioning from a conservative, classically-trained Washington, DC calligrapher to a computer-savvy graphic artist, then taking the next step to creating expressive, abstract calligraphy of the modern age, Rick gives a colorful first-hand account of the significant changes in calligraphy over the past century.

This presentation is part social history, part calligraphy-geek techno process-specific, and part philosophical inquiry, with quality historical and current images to accompany the discussion.
 
 
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PLUS: FREE evening Lecture: FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO THE SEA: A Calligrapher’s Journey
Time: 6:00-7:00

In this colorful forty-five minute presentation, Paulus leads a unique journey from Cape Cod, to serving as the Chief Calligrapher of the White House, and back again to Cape Cod. Using calligraphy as the backdrop, He shares personal vignettes from working at the highest levels of government as a calligrapher, calligraphy’s role in diplomacy and entertaining, how a State Dinner is planned and executed and many insights into the operations of the White House Social Office. After our tour of the White House, I take you with
me back to Cape Cod, where I am confronted with the blank canvas, my greatest challenge being to create beautiful art of my own inspiration; to create art of a completely different nature than he had been asked to produce in Washington, DC. The presentation continues with slides of Paulus’ current work, and accompanying readings of the quotes and poems of the sea that have inspired him for so many years and have played a significant role in his ultimate return to the sea.

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To Reserve your place or for more information, call Emily Canter at 678-463-7500 or email emily@cantergraphics.com.

For a supply list and more information, visit samflaxsouth.com

Our own Trent Vann interviews June Hall.

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Recently I visited with up and coming Atlanta artist, June Ann Hall. She shares a studio on the 13th floor of her apartment building with her partner, Zack. There’s a great view from up here, the busy intersection at tenth and Juniper, lots of green treetops and, in the distance, the hazy hump of Stone Mountain. Inside there’s more greenery—lots of plants sunning themselves in the windows, soft jazz streaming through the stereo speakers and, of course—lots of art.

Houseplants. Tea. Coffee. Jazz. Art. It’s a homey space, creative and comfortable. I could make some art here. “There’s a little something for everybody,” June says. “It’s a wonderful place to work in—our little getaway.” She offers me a seat and a cup of tea. Now that we’re comfortable, we can talk art. June is new to the art world—getting her professional start in 2006, she tells me; but already her creative output has been pretty prodigious. She works in watercolor, acrylic, digital and textiles; and the number of pieces she has created in the relatively short span of six years is impressive.

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She pulls up one piece on her computer. It’s a work in progress—a digital painting—a foggy lake at night, a lighthouse in the distance, a grouping of strange lights in the dark sky. Her grandson inspired the piece. “Ever since he was a little guy, he’s been drawing his own species of aliens,” she tells me. “‘Do-a-alien,’ he tells me. ‘Nana,’—he calls me, ‘do-a-alien.’” So what could she do? She created the mystery laden scene, which she calls, “Visitors.” It was created using GIMP, which, “—is a computer program basically like Photoshop. It’s sophisticated enough for my needs and—it’s free,” she says. And free is good—especially when it comes to anything that helps you make art. And it takes some skill and persistence to use the program because in GIMP, you’re drawing with a mouse instead of a stylus—so you have to have a steady hand and a lot of patience. June has both.

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She shows me another piece also created using GIMP. It’s a night sea image—still waters beneath a full moon. The shore is lined with rocks. This is a glimpse of a silent world—a place of meditation, tranquility and reflection. The next piece we look at is a painting—autumn leaves, tenuously hanging from the branches of a tree. “I look at this one and I see change,” she says. “It’s the only certainty.” Verdant green colors turn to rust—summer fading to autumn, youth fading to old age. “A doctor bought the leaf painting,” she tells me. “He enshrined it in a deep frame.”

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We look at others, too—a watercolor of a lighthouse on a rocky shore—symbolic of finding your path, perhaps. You travel a dusty, uncertain trail, catching a glimpse now and again of a light in the distance and in the end you find—your own deep, interior ocean. I’m starting to get a certain meditative vibe from June’s works. They’re symbolic—dreamlike—a little haunting. To me, these are outward expressions of interior states.

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She’s fond of one painting she shows me—a charming country house on a quiet road. This one is a scene taken from life—almost. It’s a house June saw, once. But the house, as she saw it that day was, “—boarded up, run down and rotted. But I saw it and I thought, I like that house; I want to bring life back to it—real life. I saw it and it was run down—but here in my picture it’s renewed.” That’s the great thing about art—it can bring life to barren places.

June is also handy with a camera, trying her hand at photography from time to time. Photography provides its own set of challenges and rewards. “In a dark room,” she says, “there’s no Control-Alt-Delete. What you see is what you get. You might develop your photographs and end up right back in the dark room until you find something you like better.” Once, the Atlanta Housing Authority benefitted from her skills. “Their photographer was late,” June explains. “I happened to be on location where they were planning to shoot. I snapped away. ‘Can we use these?’ they asked. ‘Sure,’ I said.” She ends with a laugh. “They ended up using all of them.” June’s versatile, like I said.

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Right now, June is working on a new project. It’s a satchel to hold your cell phone. She calls it, appropriately enough, “Hold My Calls.” It caters to the hearing impaired. June, herself, suffers from a hearing impairment and one problem she has been faced with is being able to hear her phone ringing when it’s in her purse. This challenge set her thinking about ways to overcome a longstanding difficulty. “It really inspired me to become an entrepreneur.” She designed a satchel for her phone, wore it and liked it. So did other people. They noticed the holder and started asking where they could get one. And so, “Hold My Calls” was born. “I’ve been getting a lot of calls for Hold My Calls,” she says, “and right now, I’m working on plans to introduce it to deaf agencies.”

What’s next for June? A lot. Besides painting and creating digital art and starting up a new business to market ‘Hold My Calls’—June is also working on designing websites for herself and her partner, Zack. She showed me some preliminaries for new works inspired by butterflies—another glimpse of the symbolic journey of the soul expressed through art. She’s also hoping to be involved in some gallery shows in the city. She recently had a joint show with Zack at Jason’s Deli. Now, they’re planning some things for next spring in Piedmont Park. She and Zack are also working on getting grants for their projects—with the idea of starting local and moving out. It’s a full plate, but, as she tells me, “—that’s better than an empty one.”

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Eric Nine creating live work at Sam Flax. Be sure to bid on this piece, as well as all of the other fantastic art being created at Sam Flax on May 3rd at Kai Lin! Check out our calendar to see when other artists will be making their appearance!

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ISH_9272In the twenties, from the lawns of houses along Grandview Avenue, you could look out over fields and trees and get a—well, grand view of the city. Things have changed a bit. The woods and fields are long gone. But there’s still a grand view. You just have to step inside the yellow house at number 2979 to see it. The renovated bungalow is home to one of the city’s oldest arts organizations—the Atlanta Artists Center.

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I’m welcomed to the gallery by Tom Quinn, the center’s education chairman. He’s had a long career in the arts. “I was in advertising and marketing by trade—art direction,” he tells me. Tom worked as a graphic designer and art director for several southeastern corporations and advertising services providing graphics to everyone from IBM to Coca Cola. But how did he end up at the AAC? “I had a heart attack—which I survived,” he adds with a laugh, “—as you can see—My doctor said, ‘Get out of advertising. Find something easier to do.’” What did he do that was easier? He taught college, of course. Easier?

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“I taught at the Atlanta College of Art as an adjunct professor until they sold out to SCAD. In order to stay on, you had to have a Masters. Well, I only had a BFA… and forty years’ experience.” He holds up his hands, like the scales of justice, trying to determine if all the years of experience balance out against the hefty weight of a degree—not without a sense of amusement, I note. “Afterwards, I worked for American InterContinental University—until they sold out to the Career Education Corporation of Chicago. After that I got real, real bored—so I went to work for New South Associates—a commercial archaeological company. I did all types of graphics, artifact illustration and photography for them—as well as archaeological interpretation of the sites. Eventually, I retired. That was in 2011.”

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That’s not the end of the story, of course. Tom smiles and I wait for him to admit it. “I got bored again,” he confesses with a laugh. So he came to the Atlanta Artists Center—where all of his years of art experience have been put to good use as the center’s education chairman. So he’s come full circle—back to the world of art instruction. As Tom puts it, “Wherever you go—there you are.”

The Atlanta Artists Center was founded in 1956 and the house on Grandview Avenue is the original home of the organization. It’s a welcoming space with hardwood floors and good lighting. It has a homey, inviting feel—conducive to making art. The ceilings have been raised and a studio space has been added on out back. Tom shows me the newest project underway—track lighting to be added in the studio. “It’s a nice, community gallery,” Tom tells me, “accessible to a variety of artists of every level. We’re nonprofit—we’re here to promote the arts community and our fine artists.”

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Each month, the Atlanta Artists Center hosts a themed show. I take a look at the pieces hanging on the walls, trying to guess what the current theme might be. I see portraits, abstracts, still life pieces, digital photos. I’m nonplussed. “A dash of Red,” Tom says. “That’s the theme.” Now I see it—every piece has a red highlight of some kind—a red dress, a red barn, a red apple. For this show, 125 artists submitted pieces, seventy of which were picked to hang in the final exhibit. The judges for the shows are all picked from outside—artists, teachers, gallery owners.

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Tom’s enthusiastic about the group. “Currently we’ve got 428 members—artists of every caliber.” The Atlanta Artists Center is home to watercolorists, oil and acrylic painters, photographers and sculptors. With that many artists in one place, it’s a beehive of creativity. A wide range of artistic opportunities are made available for its members. It’s a great place to meet other artists and share ideas. Members can show and sell their work in the juried exhibits at the Grandview gallery space and elsewhere around town—including three reception areas at Emory hospital, the Buckhead and Northside libraries and Basil’s restaurant. Throughout the year, the center hosts numerous professional artists who come to speak and teach on a wide variety of topics. Sketch groups are held every day of the week—classical nude studies, portraiture and life drawing with an open studio on Fridays. “Everybody comes in, pulls up tables and chairs and paints—It’s a paint fest,” Tom says. “Instead of a quilting bee, I like to tell people we have a painting bee.” Sometimes the workshops are all day affairs running from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon with a forty five minute lunch break—usually at Basil’s restaurant next door. “We start off in the morning painting,” Tom explains. “Then we go next door—eat, drink wine, talk about art—then come back and paint some more.” Good deal.

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We finish our tour of the gallery and studio space at Grandview Avenue. I can tell Tom is really at home here in this gathering of artists—doing his work for the center—raising awareness of the arts in Atlanta. He agrees. “I get to promote the AAC with demos, workshops, studio drawing and painting sessions, sketch groups and anything else I can dream up.” He’s plenty busy, as you can guess. “I’ve had a great career,” he says with a smile. “I’ve done just about everything. Truth be told, I’m having more fun than I should be having at my age.”

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To learn more about the Atlanta Artists Center and how to join, visit them online at www.atlantaartistscenter.org

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Amy Ashbaugh creating live work at Sam Flax. Be sure to bid on this piece, as well as all of the other fantastic art being created at Sam Flax on May 3rd at Kai Lin! Check out our calendar to see when other artists will be making their appearance!

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Jonny Warren creating live work at Sam Flax. Be sure to bid on this piece, as well as all of the other fantastic art being created at Sam Flax on May 3rd at Kai Lin! Check out our calendar to see when other artists will be making their appearance!

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Olive47 creating live work at Sam Flax. Be sure to bid on this piece, as well as all of the other fantastic art being created at Sam Flax on May 3rd at Kai Lin! Check out our calendar to see when other artists will be making their appearance!

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Kyle Brooks creating live work at Sam Flax to benefit One Love Generation. Be sure to bid on Kyle Brooks work, on May 3rd at Kai-Lin Gallery!

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Mr. Soul

Ish Holmes —  February 22, 2013 — 4 Comments

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Grey day. It’s raining. I want to sleep in. But I can’t. Because today—today—I’m meeting Mr. Soul. Yes, Mr. Soul. What should I expect? I have a mental picture—like you get with deejays on the radio. I’m picturing someone really cool from the mid-seventies—complete with afro—someone who wears sunglasses indoors. I head west of Midtown to meet Mr. Soul and find out. The door to his apartment opens… I’m greeted by an African American man in his late thirties wearing a Thieveland tee. His stocking cap is tilted sideways. He’s wearing grey sweats. We shake hands. His arms are heavily tattooed. On the left arm I see Harriet Tubman smiling up at me and also an eyeball collage. On the right arm—the portrait of a friend. This is Mr. Soul—also known… on occasion… as Kevin Harp—Art Director and CEO—so reads the brass plague on top of his fully stocked bookshelf.

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First thing’s first. Before we talk art—I have to know about the name. How did Kevin Harp (formerly of Cleveland Ohio) become Mr. Soul? “I went through a lot of stages with the names,” he says. “I started out as Clue. Maybe because I had no idea what name to give myself.” Next? “Skript—it was a cool name—dope—something I could tag. Then I hooked up with DJ Centipede. He was a client in Cleveland.” At the time, Soul was putting out fliers for the popular Hip hop DJ. All the fliers were tagged with Kevin’s business name—Visual Soul. “Whenever Centipede would call up to talk business, he’d say, ‘Soooul.’” Kevin pitches his voice lower—in imitation of Centipede, holding out the name for a couple of beats. It stuck. “It was a way to identify me and my business at the same time.” It also ties in music, too. Music has provided a vital and lasting inspiration in Soul’s life as an artist and as an individual. His favorites? Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Outkast to name a few. “I like for my visuals to match the sound—soul, ghetto, gospel. I’m really inspired by funkadelic. It’s the type of feel I want in my art—that sort of movement and energy.”

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Now we can talk art. There’s a poster on Souls’ wall. Three eyeballs stare down at me. They have arms. They’re floating above a shadowed, urban landscape beneath a mottled orange and yellow sky. The left eye wields a spiked mace and a spray can. The right eye—a stick. The central eye holds an unfurled parchment in its hands. Emblazoned on the scroll in ornate, red script are the words, ‘Creative Problem Solver.’ All three floating eyeballs are rocking Kangol hats. The bottom of the poster is emblazoned with the name ‘Mr. Soul’ in an ornate, Gothic style script. “That’s one of my classic eyeball pieces,” Soul says. I’m getting a sort of mystic feel from the eyes—maybe it’s all the Hindu mythology I’ve been reading lately. “They represent the three pillars of life,” Soul says. “Mental. Spiritual. Physical. Without all three you get off balance. The center eye represents the third, all seeing eye—the ability to have visions—to see more than what’s perceived by your ordinary senses.” Cool. I wasn’t so far off after all.

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“I love to work in layers. For me, that’s one of the draws of Adobe Illustrator.” I look at the poster again. Literal layers. Metaphorical layers. An inner eye rocking a Kangol hat. He shows me the original eyeball sketch. The final piece is super smooth. It’s a crisp, deftly handled graphic work. It looks effortless. “That’s because you’re seeing the final product,” he says. “You didn’t see the times I punched the wall in frustration—the times I hit ‘undo’—and the two hundred pieces of paper I wadded up to get here.” So how does he get from the initial sketch to the final, poster sized image? “I take a picture of the sketch with my phone and then dump that into the computer. I used to use Photoshop; but I’d say I’m 90% Adobe Illustrator now.” Why? “I love the clean lines—the scalability. You have to have a certain skill set to use it. Not everybody can. Every piece is a challenge. I have a vision in my head; but then I have to hash it out in Illustrator terms. There’s four or five ways to skin a cat—sometimes you just have to combine a few of those ways to get the cat fully skinned.”

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How early did Mr. Soul get into art? He laughs. “I came out of the womb with a box of crayons and a pack of construction paper.” Talk about being prepared. “I remember my first grade art teacher—Alice Cooper. She showed us how to create intricate scenes out of primitive shapes—circles, squares, triangles. I was fascinated.” There was no going back. He has another childhood recollection. “I also had an older cousin. He was into comic books and kung fu—Spider Man, Batman and Bruce Lee. I lived in his shadow from about first to fourth grade. Mom said I used to cry because I’d get so frustrated that I couldn’t do what he was doing.” Nowadays, of course, Soul gets to do what he wants. He’s out of the shadows. But it was a long road to Atlanta. So how did he get here?

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“By sixth grade, I knew I loved art. But I didn’t know what direction I should take. In high school I did a lot of airbrushing on tee shirts and jumpsuits.” He and a few friends also had plenty of encouragement from a gifted, local graffiti artist—Sano. Sano? It stands for Super Notorious Artistic Outlaw. “Well, that was one of the meanings,” Soul says. “He was a big brother, a father, an uncle to me. I used to ride the Red Line. I’d see his pieces out the window and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I remember I’d cut school and go to Sano’s house. We’d go steal art supplies from the store.” Fear not, gentle reader—the purloined goods were put to good use by Soul and his mentor. “He taught us how to use markers, airbrush and computers. He helped set me on my way.”

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Before Atlanta, Soul spent some time in Pittsburg. He’s a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburg. He stops me before I can ask about his major. “Don’t ask what degree I got—I haven’t ever used it.” But the sojourn to Pittsburg wasn’t a total bust. He linked up with some notable graffiti artists. He rattles off a whole list of names—superstars of the graffiti world. I’m totally lost—scribbling down names—trying to keep up. Does he notice? Yes. Soul’s kind enough to stop and give me a brief spelling tutorial. He’s patient about it, like an adult teaching a little child to sound out a new word for the first time. It’s then I realize—there’s a whole artistic movement I’m barely aware of. My graffiti name would be ToWS—Total. White. Suburbanite. I am Clueless. But not for long. He pulls a book off his shelf—The History of American Graffiti by Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon. It’s all documented here—the long, rich, innovative history of graffiti art. Mr. Soul turns up in the pages, too. There’s hope for me, yet.

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“I’m coming up on year seventeen here in Atlanta.” He came for the art. “In Cleveland, outside of the steel industry, there was no means of survival.” Back in Cleveland, Soul worked on a hip hop newszine—The work brought him to Atlanta in ’95. “It was the last Jack the Rapper convention,” he says. “We were going to take that energy we felt here back to Cleveland. But in the end, we still got the lights shut off—the rent was still late. There was just no infrastructure to do it.” So in November of 1996, Soul came to Atlanta. The early days were slim. “A partner and I came to Atlanta to look for a place to live and for work. We stayed at the Days Inn for a week, eating Waffle House for breakfast and dinner until we got leads and secured a place to stay.” But Soul stuck with it. He looked with his inner eye and found his way. “Everybody’s got a purpose. But most people just don’t know how to find it. I was lucky. The light was shining in my direction. It was destiny.”

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Aside from his art, Soul does a lot of work with students in the community. “I get calls from my friends—‘Kevin, help, my son’s scribbling all over the floor—what do I do?’ Art is intriguing to every child. So I go to local schools and talk to the kids. I have to. Arts funding is being cut everywhere. It’s ridiculous. We’ve got plenty of money to bomb other countries—but we can’t have art class in schools?” He’s trying to give these kids a chance he didn’t have as a kid growing up in Cleveland. “On career day, we’d have a lawyer come in, a police officer and—” he laughs, “ a dentist.” No artists with tattoos. “When these people come in to talk to kids they fall asleep. There’s a big disconnect between them and the police officer who comes to talk to them.” But with Soul they get a different perspective. “I come in—hat to the side, tattoos—looking like what they want to be. But at the same time, I articulate how important it is to be in school—to stay in the books—to listen to their elders, their parents, their teachers. We show them that they can still be themselves—you can have tattoos, even—and still be a productive member of society. Because, let’s face it—at the end of the day—these kids want to be like us.”

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At a local Castleberry Hill gallery, Soul challenged parents to let their kids put down their own ideas concerning the execution of Troy Davis. “Too often we don’t listen to kids. We don’t let them speak their minds about a situation. We tell them, ‘You can’t say this. You can’t do this. You can’t know this until you’re this age.’ But, by then—it’s too late.” Soul encouraged them to speak. And they did. Each child drew a picture of his or her interpretation of the events surrounding the Davis execution. Then they wrote paragraphs explaining what their pieces meant to them—in their own words. “The event went beyond race and class,” Soul says. “It was about the kids. Letting them speak their minds—and us listening.”

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Soul’s also active up at City of Ink—the urban tattoo shop located at 323 Castleberry Hill. There’s a lot of great art being produced up there. His arms bear witness to this. He’s fervent about black tattoo artists getting the respect they deserve. “There are a lot of up and coming artists there—some as young as twenty two and twenty three years old,” he says. “Very talented. The tattoo industry as a whole can be very racist. Most people don’t realize it, but there’s an art and a science when it comes to tattooing on black skin.” He gives me a closer look at the Tubman tattoo. It was done by legendary tattoo artist Miya Bailey, co-owner of City Of Ink. “For me, having tattoos is like collecting art.” Soul has a pretty good collection so far.

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Currently, Soul and some other artists from the Castleberry Hill circle are also working on a newsletter. He calls it a guerrilla grass roots effort. “It’s a diverse group of artists. Nobody comes from money. But we all come together. Makes us stronger—” he laughs, “like Voltron—it’s really a chance to try and professionalize our movement.” As for the near future, Soul’s artist’s plate is pretty full. He’s got a cancer awareness project lined up for the end of March. In April he’ll be working on a 420 show for the stoners. And in June—a black pin up show. Cool. He’s also got some personal projects, too. He shows me a sketch he’s been working on. It’s the text for a memorial piece in honor of one of his friends. It’s a collaborative work. His fellow artist, Goldi Gold, is working on the portrait to go with it.

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With his current success, what does Soul have next in mind? “I’m sort of going backwards,” he says. “I started out exploring life through Fine Art. With Graphic Design, I’ve gotten a little off track. I want to work on some more personal expression. But you’ve got to keep the lights on. It’s a Catch 22—business versus purpose. But I’m finally at the point in my career where I can say, ‘No.’ Early on, I took every job I could get. I’m not everybody’s creative savior anymore—only those with a budget to be saved. I’ve finally got time for more personal work.” And if Soul could be anywhere he wanted—where would he like to be? He answers so fast, I know he’s already been thinking about his escape. “I wouldn’t be on a phone. I’d disappear for four or five days to some cabin in the woods—come back with a shit load of art—One with the earth again.”

From the wall behind him, the wise inner eye—half veiled by an orange kangol hat, looks down approvingly.

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You can visit Kevin ‘Mr. Soul’ Harp at www.mistersoul216.com

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The great people over at Steelcase has donated TWO amazing Think Chairs to be raffled away at Sam Flax! The proceeds from the drawing will benefit The Assistance League of Atlanta which does a lot of great things in the community, plus they help with The Shepherd’s Center. Learn more about each of those fantastic organizations by following the links to their websites:

http://assistanceleagueatl.org/

http://www.shepherd.org/

To enter for a chance to win one of these fabulous chairs is simple:

Step 1: Come into our Atlanta store at 1745 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA

Step 2: Go to the Furniture Department

Step 3: Fill out a very brief Raffle Entry Form

Step 4: Donate $1

That’s it! And you can repeat those steps up to 10 times a day, every day until our two drawings take place on February 12th and February 19th. If you don’t win on the 12th, you’ll automatically be entered into the following drawing.

Did I mention that the chair is valued over $1100? Come on in today!

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