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  • Words by Amanda Seevers

Thea Foundation Announces Thea Insiders & 2020 Art Department Line-Up

Thea Foundation is excited to announce a brand-new offering for supporters to stay involved year-round and receive great perks. Beginning in 2020, becoming a Thea Insider for only $90/year gives you access to four of our Art Department exhibition openings with a special, advance meet and greet with each artist as well as 25% off our annual fundraisers, including Into the Blue and Blue Plate Special.

In addition to these event advantages, you’ll receive a quarterly update on our recently-funded Art Closet projects, giving you an inside look at our impactful programming and how your contribution helps inspire young minds to think creatively across the state of Arkansas. No matter when you sign up, your Insider status continues for a full year upon joining.

The 2020 Art Department quarterly exhibition series will feature five emerging Arkansas artists with one collaborative spring exhibition by two artists. Each exhibition will be month-long with a special opening reception, including heavy hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, and a chance for guests to purchase art and visit with the artist(s). In the new year, we’ll welcome artists in the months of February, April, September and November.

Note: Thea Foundation’s typical Art Department months have been slightly adjusted to accommodate our showing of a portion of the Arkansas Arts Center’s 62nd Annual Delta Exhibition.

February 7: Bryan Frazier

The kick-off of the 2020 Art Department series will feature central Arkansas artist Bryan Frazier. Bryan is an Arkansas native and holds a BFA in studio art from Henderson State University. In 2000, he moved to Little Rock and taught high school art and photography for 5 years. Bryan has always had a passion for abstract and pop art, architecture, and graphic design.

Today, Bryan’s work continues to show affection for organic line, architectural form, and screen-printing. With medium, he shies away from tradition; mixing screen-printing ink, oil sticks, acrylic paint, watercolor, wax crayon, pastel, and house paint. His work has been accepted twice into the annual Arkansas Art Center’s Delta Exhibition and The Small Works on Paper touring exhibition. He has been featured in numerous publications across the state and sold work to many varied corporate and private clients.

The February Art Department will be Bryan's first solo exhibition of this size. He is also currently represented at M2 Gallery in Little Rock.

April 3: Hannah Genevieve Lawrence & Chris Swasta

Spring will bring our first-ever collaborative exhibition from young artists Hannah Genevieve Lawrence, known for her modern macramé, and Christ Swasta of Rolling Hills Pottery.

Hannah Genevieve Lawrence is based in Little Rock. She majored in studio art with a focus in fiber arts at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. Her main medium combines macramé and weaving techniques. Her love of vintage and contemporary art has led to her current direction. Hannah has most recently showcased work in the “SHE” exhibition at M2 Gallery in Little Rock. To spread her love for textiles, Hannah frequently teaches workshops.

Christ Swasta, whose work is widely sold in varying Little Rock stores under the name Rolling Hills Pottery, will present a wide array of his detailed pottery, with many functional pieces included. Native to Arkansas, Chris Swasta was born in North Little Rock, where he also attended high school. After returning to Arkansas after years spent in Nebraska, Chris worked initially on-contract with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre before becoming an instructor at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Of his pottery, Chris said, “With various shapes and forms in mind, I strive to find inspiration of sentimental values of my childhood, landscapes and sea life, each of which I have a fond history with; to overcome fear of the unknown and explore endeavors of the elements and principles, to recreate these in my own vision.”

September 4: Matt White

In September, our first exhibition following the summer display of the Arkansas Arts Center's 62nd Annual Delta Exhibition will feature the photography of local artist Matt White. Born in Little Rock in 1983, Matt White is a photographer of people and places across the American South. His writing and photographs have appeared in The Oxford American, Rolling Stone, Living Blues, and Field Photographer. Feel Like Going Home, his current photographic exhibition, is on display in Bentonville, AR through April 2020.

You might also know Matt as the co-owner of the historic White Water Tavern in Little Rock. He continues to uplift artists and expose central Arkansans to a wide array of traveling musicians through his ongoing booking and promotion of shows at WWT.

November 6: Katie McGowan

Thea’s final 2020 Art Department will feature local tattoo extraordinaire, Katie McGowan. Born in Little Rock, Katie began drawing as a child, primarily focusing on cartoon characters such Bart Simpson and Tommy Pickles. While attending college at Hendrix, Katie frequented a local tattoo shop and became fascinated with the artistry of tattoos, receiving her first at the age of 19. After landing a tattoo apprenticeship, Katie left college early and embarked on a career making art on skin professionally.

She received her license in 2010 and by 2015, she was a competitor on one of the most successful reality TV competition shows: Ink Master. From 2015 to 2019, Katie competed on Ink Master Seasons 6 and 9, coached on Season 12, judged on Ink Master: Angels, and appeared on Ink Master: Grudge Match and Ink Master: Redemption. During Season 9, she won second place and received America’s vote for Best Tattoo Done Live on the season finale.

In June of 2019, Katie opened Love Spell Tattoo, an independent tattoo shop with her friend/fellow talented tattoo artist, Jesse Perez. Together, they are revolutionizing the structure of a tattoo shop in which each artist will receive 100% of their earnings and divide overhead costs evenly. Currently, Love Spell Tattoo is the only woman-owned and Mexican American-owned tattoo shop in central Arkansas.

The November Art Department will be Katie’s first-ever exhibition, incorporating her off-skin art as well as a woven narrative of her experience being a famous tattoo artist.

To sign up to become a Thea Insider, visit our support page and click the button titled ‘Join Today!’ beneath the Thea Insider details. If you’re interested in joining and would like further information before registering, please join us for a special Thea Insider Kick-Off Happy Hour on Thursday, January 9 at Thea Foundation’s Argenta gallery beginning at 5:30 p.m. Those who have already registered before January 9 are absolutely welcome to stop by for this fun kick-off with fellow Thea supporters and art-lovers. The more, the merrier!

We can’t wait to engage with our generous community year-round and enjoy the love of art together.

#TheaFoundation #artexhibits

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