By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – The TEAD One Memorial Artist in Residence Program, established in memory of the late Detroit graffiti artist Jordan “TEAD” Vaughn, provides an encouraging environment for artists in its Artspace gallery.
During April Arts Dearborn, resident artists Andrew “Southwest Drew” Valdez of Detroit, Martina Sanroman of Rockwood and Matt Thornton of Westland greeted guest during an April 15 gallery hop and studio open house.
Valdez said the gallery hop allows visitors to see the artists in their element, with both their works in progress and their completed work in a studio setting.
“They can see the artists and the imagination they all have,” he said. “Maybe inspire a few young artists to do this.”
Valdez said he enjoys seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they check out the art work in the studio.
“Some people can’t walk away from something they see and they wind up taking it home with them,” he said.
On display in his studio are two works Valdez hopes to submit to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, Calif.
Chicano refers to people born in the United States of Mexican origin or descent.
Valdez said his ethnicity has a significant influence on his work.
“I live Southwest Detroit and I love my heritage,” he said. “That inspires a lot of paintings.”
Sanroman said she likes to share her process with people who are interested in learning.
“I have been experimenting a lot with color lately,” she said, gesturing to her work on the gallery wall.
In addition to painting, she enjoys sketching and working with color pencils.
Sanroman now prefers painting, despite having a community college teacher tell her she “didn’t know how to paint.”
“I approached it as a drawing person, you know, and that kind of turned me off for a couple of years,” she said. “Being an artist, I can step away from it, but I can’t stay away from it.”
Sanroman said she met some people at rave galleries who showed her what is possible with art, which encouraged her to explore what it could mean for her.
“I have met a lot of really cool people, had a lot of really cool experiences,” she said.
While she sticks to basic colors in her wardrobe to make her life simpler, her love for color comes out in her work.
“When it comes to colors, I have all the yellows, all the oranges at home and I love picking through them and seeing what works with what,” she said. “Everybody has different tastes, so just because somebody doesn’t like what you are doing doesn’t mean you should stop. We all have different styles and a different approach to it, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
“The more you do something, the better you get. Don’t stop.”
Thornton, who is traditionally a comic book artist, has recently begun to pursue fine art painting.
“I first starting drawing as a kid,” he said. “My aunt is an illustrator, and she would take me to her house on weekends and we would just get snacks and hang out.”
Thornton said his aunt introduced him to all sorts of different art supplies, ways of thinking and to other artists.
“That was my foot in the door to the art community,” he said. “I mostly create comic books – I am an illustrator – but I self-publish my own comic book, ‘Doris.’”
Thornton said the TEAD One residency has allowed him to explore fine art painting.
“I enjoy that a lot and I enjoy the community that’s around that, so I’m just kind of going with that right now,” he said.
He said mark-making – the lines, dots, patterns and textures created in artwork, which he uses to achieve different types of forms and shapes – has generated the most interest among visitors.
“I think people are more or less interested in that part,” he said. “They are like, ‘Oh, he did that, that and that – it kind of looks like a sandwich,’ and yeah, it was just three little strokes. People tend to respond to the mark-making.”
For more information on the TEAD One Artist in Residence program, go to teadoneartistinresidenceprogram.com.