Kentuck (Alabama) Exhibit Features Works By Jamaica artist Athlone Clarke

The 15-work exhibit is dedicated to the memory of the late Georgine Clarke, the founder of Kentuck and an early supporter of Athlone Clarke.
A report by Ryan Phillips for Patch.

A visual artist and accomplished writer, Clarke has in the past brushed off the idea that he has a particular style and the works on display at Kentuck underscore his approach to his craft.

“[Clarke] uses objects that he finds or that people give him and he really believes in the power of an object,” said Kentuck Gallery Shop and Exhibition Manager Mary Bell. “[The individual works] have memory and energy and he waits to use an object until he knows it belongs in a piece. It’s very intentional with what he chooses to use in his work and he also is a writer so you’ll notice a lot of his work incorporates phrases, writings. It’s kind of a marriage of his two creative endeavors.”

The exhibit — titled “Quantum Intuition On A Tangential Path” — has been open for the last two days and is the result of Kentuck reaching out to Clarke, who has a deep connection to the local art scene. The exhibit is also dedicated to the late Georgine Clarke, the founder of Kentuck and a crucial supporter of the artist on display.

Bell said Clarke showed at Kentuck’s festivals for several years, becoming a popular fixture, but hasn’t been featured in Northport in some time. When the Kentuck Art Center was looking to fill gallery space with an exhibit, Clarke’s name was at the top of the list.Subscribe

“We got in touch, he was free, we were free and it was just serendipity,” Bell said.

Clarke has described his work as a visual journal and Bell pointed to his overarching theme of loving one’s neighbor and treating people the way they want to be treated.

“If we did that, it would build a much better world,” she pointed out. “If you are local and are available, this is definitely a show you want to see in person. Just the level of detail and depth to each piece is worth seeing.”

In showing the exhibit, Kentuck’s Marketing Manager Ashley Williams walked over to what she described as her favorite piece of art on display. The piece that caught her eye is filled with black and white photos, small artifacts — like keys and a crucifix — along with writings by Clarke to add context to each photo.

Kentuck’s Marketing Manager Ashley Williams explains her favorite piece in the Athlone Clarke exhibit

“There’s so much detail in every single one of them,” she said. “Every time I look at it I see something different. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the tiny texts and all of the stories he’s worked into this piece. I really like to be able to ready everybody’s stories here.”

Williams commented on her favorite part, a simple phrase written by hand, reading “same root, different branches.”

“When he’s creating this piece, it’s kind of a document of how he’s feeling in that time,” Williams said.

Bell said the work of art on display that spoke to her is a collaboration of Clarke and his wife Alice. The piece features heavy Navajo imagery from Alice, with other contributions by Clarke.

“She is Navajo and from Arizona and she did all of the bead work and the decorating on the bone, and he did the background and the sage bundles and I think it’s really wonderful this collaboration between their two backgrounds,” she said.

One of the pieces in the Athlone Clarke exhibit at the Kentuck Art Center

Williams spoke to Clarke’s recognition, referring to him as a high-caliber artist, but also mentioned his connection to Kentuck and its founder in being central to the exhibit.

“Our founder Georgine, this exhibit is dedicated to her memory,” she said. “She kind of encouraged him and gave him the exposure he needed at that time and since then he has become a very successful artist, so it really is a treat to have him exhibit with us.”

The public is invited to view the exhibit for free and masks will be required for entry. The center also has a six-person capacity for the gallery space.

“For those who can’t visit in person, we’ll have a recorded artist talk published to our blog and a virtual tour coming probably next week,” Williams said.

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