This Friday marks a new installment of the Thea Foundation’s Art Department series featuring local artist Michael Shaeffer. Catch the opening reception from 6 – 9 p.m. at the foundation’s gallery in Argenta.
For $10 at the door you get heavy hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, and the chance to win an original work by the artist himself.
We can say this for certain – you don’t want to miss it.
“The Thrill Of It All” is a collection of paintings depicting a group of drag performers in Little Rock, which Shaeffer spent time documenting behind the scenes. This is the exhibit’s Central Arkansas debut, as it has already made rounds in the Northwest corner of the state.
Shaeffer’s ready for the show to kick off in the Rock, as he says, “I’m super excited to bring these girls back home. … It’s going to be great to showcase the whole series, especially at a space like Thea.”
He says, “I was first introduced to them a few years back through Stacey Bowers and instantly fell in love with what they bring to our community. I am completely honored to be involved with such an influential part of our young art community.”
We’ve talked with Shaeffer before about his artistic background, aesthetic and his growing love for the Natural State. Even then he talked about beauty and his perspective on the term. Shaeffer has carried that particular interest over into these new works.
“This series has helped me appreciate beauty, where I used to question beauty,” he says, “I was simply documenting an underground community of individuals that I found to be beautiful, talented, and raw. It was an art scene I not only was surprised to find in a dark lit club in downtown little rock, but also an art scene that would inspire me to pick up my paints again.”
The recent political climate, however, has provided new meaning for the series. Viewers and even the subjects themselves responded to the series by saying it created a powerful statement.
“Our political landscape began to change in a much more blatant and fearful way towards not only the LGBTQ community, but many communities in our nation,” Shaeffer explains, “Suddenly I began to feel as if I was seen as a political artist, which was not my intention initially.”
Perhaps there’s something there, though. The reaction his audience had has caused him to take pause and begin mapping out future pieces. Shaeffer plans to continue this series beyond the drag community into other communities in Arkansas.
“I do not know if art can change the world. I do know; what you see can change how you feel. Art has the potential to create a neutral space for discussion that can affect and/empower an individual. That individual then can work towards changing their world,” he says.
Don’t miss the chance to get involved in that neutral space for discussion. See you Friday.