Pop Rocks: Porcelain art pieces were fired at will

We live in an age of instant gratification. It’s an established truth I feel very few would argue with. If we want information, entertainment, inspiration – it is all as close as the smart phone we carry in our pocket or the computer sitting in front of us. There’s a very good chance that you accessed this column with a few simple clicks. Everything has become quite convenient – and that’s great. I count myself a fan of easy access.

 

But I do miss stumbling. I miss happening across an act or artist that inspires and engages me purely by chance. It wasn’t that long ago that that’s how we all discovered the things we loved. Turning the dial at just the right time, flipping to the right page in a magazine or – and this was always the best – a random conversation.

It still happens from time to time.

Several weeks ago, during the Westobou Festival, I was introduced to Tom Hubbard – a relatively recent transplant to the Augusta area.

Hubbard is an artist and designer and, most significantly, a thinker. His work is both personal and produced with the broadest public conversations in mind. Recently, he mounted an inspired exhibition built around the very American issue and idea of gun ownership, violence and regulation.

The show featured carefully-crafted porcelain handguns, each stamped with contrasting and significant dates, quotes and statistics regarding the gun issue. The conceptual goal – to broach conversation in an environment where bias is intentionally avoided and the facts presented, both literally and metaphorically, in shades of gray.

The show was presented at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art and, more casually, an Indiana gun show, so most of Hubbard’s growing community of Augusta admirers were not able to see the work in a gallery environment.

But that’s about to change. Hubbard will be presenting a few of the Recoil guns as part of the Westobou Gallery’s SEEDS show, a 14-artist group exhibition designed to present small works with a collector-friendly price tag of $300 or less. I’m particularly interested in this show not only because it represents the first time Hubbard has presented Recoil locally, but because it allows Hubbard to present as, and with, local artists. For an artist that produces work specifically designed to engage not just single viewers, but entire populations, this seems particularly appropriate.

Augusta should be looking up. Much to my chagrin, many of our family vacations end up with me someplace high. This wasn’t always an issue, but as I have gotten older I have developed something of a fear of heights. There are exceptions. If I am inside, I don’t seem as fearful. It’s better if I am sitting down as well. But you know what really alleviates my late-onset vertigo?

A sandwich. A sandwich and a drink. Because as much as I dislike climbing up and looking down, I remain a fairly significant fan of the rooftop restaurant and top floor bar.

There are, of course, a few of these in the Augusta area, most notably the low-key Eagles Nest atop the Ramada on Broad Street and the members-only Pinnacle Club in the former Wells Fargo building.

That said, I think Augusta might be missing the mark. Broad Street, in particular, has a variety of buildings that seem perfect for rooftop dining and drinks. My favorite – the mid-century office building at Broad and 10th streets. The property was once owned by James Brown and later was home of the shamefully short-lived Blue Horse Music Hall. The multi-story building has a few tenants, but the building’s real gem, a top floor penthouse space with a large rooftop patio, remains vacant. I think the right business would have Augusta looking up.

 

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