Episode 513

In this edition of ARTEFFECTS: learn about a stairwell that promotes freedom of expression, see a thriving rollerskating scene, meet a graphic designer, and look at some portraits of public icons.

AIRED: February 13, 2020 | 0:26:46

- In this edition of Arteffects,

freedom of expression in a stairwell.

- Every square inch of that space is covered

and it has been done and redone and redone.

- [Beth] The art of roller skating.

- It's just a stress reliever.

You just get on the floor and your soul

goes to a whole another place.

The music, we all just come together and have a great time.

- [Beth] A graphic designer calling the shots.

- What I really wanted to bring with my company

is a really clean aesthetic approach just to really

convey the story of what a client is looking for.

- [Beth] And creating portraits of public icons.

- My paintings are all about the subjects

and it's all about telling their story

and I wanna tell in a very vibrant energetic way

that people wanna know about these people.

- It's all ahead on this edition of Arteffects.

(upbeat jazz music)

- [Announcer] Funding for Arteffects is made possible

by the Bently Foundation, the June S. Wisham Estate,

Kate & Richard Kenny, The Nell J. Redfield Foundation,

the annual contributions of PBS Reno Members and by.

- Hello, I'm Beth MacMillan and welcome to Arteffects.

In the Church Fine Arts Building

at the University of Nevada Reno,

you can find a stairwell completely covered in art.

This stairwell is well known in the art school

and acts as a outfit of expression for students,

faculty or anyone who decides to participate.

Here's the story.

(ambient music)

- The graffiti stairwell is this fabulous place

in the corner of the Church Fine Arts Building

on campus at the University of Nevada Reno.

The Graffiti Stairwell came about pretty organically.

It's my recollection that it started with the painting

professor's invitation to his students to use the stairwell

as an alternative canvas during a small

more intimately scaled summer class.

And it sort of took off from there.

Every square inch of that space is covered

and it has been done and redone and redone.

It's just, I mean if it's been more than a decades worth

of people painting on those walls, it's gotta a lot

of history and a lot of layer.

There are times when, just by the nature of what it is,

it can get pretty messy and because people

that are painting and participating are not necessarily

art students or trained artists, the craftsmanship

or the aesthetic quality of things

are not always really visually appealing.

But that's okay, I mean I think that it doesn't

have to always look beautiful.

The juxtaposition of the really beautifully executed

artworks with a lot of the other kind of just

present things is just part of what it is.

Graffiti by its very nature comes out of a history

of being a kind of guerrilla activist activity

and the stairwell is really no exception to that.

Most of the time the works are not attributed.

People are not taking credit for them.

And my understanding of it is that even some of the nicest

works that have ended up in there are not art students

per se, there's rumor that there's an engineering student

that's been doing some really great graffiti

in there and former students that have come back.

And have done some things, and so, we don't have

an actual way knowing who's doing the work.

Art in and of itself is a tool for communicating ideas

and it's often trying to get those ideas that are beyond

what we can readily apply language to.

The graffiti stairwell is just the epitome

of what that kind of expression is.

And it's important to protect that.

Sometimes that means that things get said that are difficult

or challenging and maybe even hurtful.

It's not the intention of the stairwell

or our desire to protect that stairwell to protect

those kinds of ideals, but rather to protect ideas

of using art as a tool for expression.

If there is anything about this stairwell

is it's always evolving, it's ever changing.

And so that means if there are difficult things

in the hallway that somebody has placed there chances

are somebody else is coming right back in over

the top of that with another level of expression.

(upbeat music)

- In Columbus, Ohio, there is a vibrant

roller skating culture that is alive and well.

Members of the community gather together

at the rink, hit the floor and move to the music.

Take a look.

(upbeat hip hop music)

- We're at Skate Zone 71, it's a Sunday night.

Yo, this right here is the epitome

of Columbus skating right here.

I mean if you haven't been before, it's an experience.

- You know people from all different cultures

come out and skate, different skill levels,

so the later you get into the session

the more you will see.

- I just happened to come with a friend one night,

I was invited so I came and I was like wow,

this is different from what I normally see

and I was just so excited and I have been here ever since.

- You know if you are not in this atmosphere,

it's really kind of foreign to some people

because they don't understand that, it's not just a movie,

it's not just something they did in the 70s,

this is very well still alive.

You know people still come skating,

we still travel to skate and we have fun.

- Growing up like when I was a kid, it was fun and it was

a way to stay out of trouble, but what really drew me to it

is the thing that I could just relieve so much stress,

so many worries of the world

is gone once you hit that floor.

I don't take my phone on me,

I don't take my wallet on me, nothing.

For three to four hours, I am free.

With no worries of the world.

It's just me, my eights, and the wood floor.

- I've been skating for 58 years.

I skate at least twice a week, sometimes three times a week.

- I skate pretty much every Sunday,

every Thursday, every Tuesday.

Pretty much my life has been skating,

ever since I was nine years old.

- Well, I started when I was four years old.

My father was a skater, I have been doing it ever since.

My first job I ever had, first paycheck I ever had,

I bought a pair of roller skates.

- My dad taught me how to skate,

but I come from a long line of skaters.

My grandfather and grandmother were floor guards

for the Smokers Skating Rink back in the 30s

and 40s, so my dad passed on the skill

of skating to me, my brother and my sister.

My whole family, they all skate.

My aunts, my cousins, so it's a generational thing.

It's in my blood.

(upbeat techno music)

I'm old school, I like vintage type gear so my boot

is from 1973, I have a plate that I customly

ordered online, my wheels are vintage wheels.

I have about seven sets of wheels.

Most of them are from the 70s and 80s.

(upbeat music)

- So, the weird thing about my skates,

is this is my first pair, this is my second pair,

and I merged them together

and basically Frankenstein'd them.

(upbeat music)

- These I have on, these are Stacy's

with flomax wheels, they're real slippery.

They're like Cali style.

Cali style they all skate in a lot of Stacy's.

It's like you're on water.

Like you're really sliding across the floor the whole night.

- I started skating when I was probably in elementary

school but never took it as serious as I did now.

I got three children now, so I'm a full time dad.

So I used to skate probably around four times

a week, now it's about once a month.

So you caught me on my one good time for the month.

So a lot of people, they still don't know

that this happens, that we do this at night.

- It's just a stress reliever, you just get on the floor

and your soul goes to a whole other place.

The music, you know we all just come together

and have a great time.

(upbeat hip hop music)

Skateology is our group.

It's about 10 members and we host

an annual party called Icy Hot.

Icy Hot is always like Superbowl weekend.

Skaters from all across the country,

there's like 800 to 1000 people skating.

(upbeat hip hop music)

- It's like one big family.

It's love, it's love, that's what skating mean.

We want more skaters, we need new skaters.

So the more skaters come out, the more energy,

the bigger the family.

- It's a lot of history here.

A lot of people have been skating for years,

young and old, and it's still alive.

Skating is still alive.

(upbeat hip hop music)

- And now let's take a look at this week's art quiz.

Which author outlined one of their novels

on the walls of their office in Oxford, Mississippi?

Is the answer A, Herman Melville?

B, Eudora Welty?

C, William Faulkner?

Or D Flannery O'Connor?

Stay tuned for the answer.

In this segment, we meet Ashley Armintage,

a graphic designer based in Saratoga Springs, New York

where she runs her own studio and develops

stand out design pieces for a variety of clients.

- What really brings a logo together?

What brings the entire identity together?

What does the client really want

when they tell me their story?

(upbeat pop music)

My name is Ashley Armitage,

I am the CEO of Ashley A designs.

I do a whole variety of graphic design needs,

from basic brochures to newsletters and above all

I love to really dive into an entire branding study.

That's my bread and butter.

(light drumming music)

What I really believe in is good clean graphic design.

You see graphic design so populated and there

is so much going on where what I really wanted

to bring with my company is really clean aesthetic approach,

just to really convey the story

of what a client is looking for.

If it may be a restaurant, if it may be a resort.

I start to really, I sketch out my ideas and really

bring all these ideas to the table to them.

And very unique ones, not just one idea and then turned

into one or two or three of just variations

but distinct differences so that the client can really

see what their identity could look like potentially.

From that process, I work from my clients

and they usually pick and choose and say,

I like this direction, I like that direction

and then from there we pick out or from the colors,

make sure the type faces are solid,

also that they are legible.

You gotta realize too, with and identity,

that this identity is not just a logo, this is you identity

that is going to be applied to everything.

Oh I wonder, that would be so much fun

if I can replicate those three, right there.

I have to say it all started,

I gotta say back in high school.

I got the kind of creative bug from one of my art teachers

named Miss Sally Way from Shenendehowa,

shout out Shenendehowa High School,

and she introduced me to this idea.

This concept that you know art doesn't always

have to be drawing a portrait landscape

or and I just said to myself, well, I can actually design

my work in these programs called the Adobe products

like Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign,

and I really wanted to explore like okay,

where is this gonna go from here,

if I really wanna take this as a career.

(upbeat robotic music)

I went to RIT, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Then I found myself going to Maryland for a time,

and then I actually worked for a company

called Chesapeake Bay Candle

and I designed all of their candle products.

I was actually chosen to do a line in Target,

I did their Pure and Natural line.

I went to Fisher-Price, I did a ton of packaging there

and applied my skill set in an in-house setting.

And then later on, I said to myself, you know what?

I really wanna branch in and do my own thing.

I will honestly say that get the experience first.

Go into in-house, go to corporate, go to the public

and private sector and get your hands dirty first.

Really see the process.

And then later on as you are seeing yourself do

a little better, and say, I can consistently

get some constant money flow into my business

or even to yourself that you feel like you can establish

yourself, then you know, then I say go freelance.

Owning your own freelance business,

you have to set up those timelines for yourself.

It's not a boss looking over you.

You have to keep on track because if you miss out,

you may miss out that next client.

You know everyone always tells me,

they're like, "Why are you here?"

"Why are you in Upstate New York?"

And I have to say the amount of talent that is here

in Upstate is incredible and it is so huge

between going to the Adirondacks to Albany,

where you are going to find some sort of creativity

or arts festival or something in this area

and I am very honored to be a part of that,

especially with applying my work to be in the real world.

My passion with design,

that is what keeps me going every day.

I know that I can push myself and have it

be the best that it can possibly be.

(inspirational music)

- See more at

And now let's review this week's art quiz.

Which author outlined one of their novels

on the walls of their office in Oxford, Mississippi?

Is the answer A, Herman Melville,

B Eudora Welty, C William Faulkner,

or D Flannery O'Connor?

And the answer is C, William Faulkner.

In Detroit, Michigan, artist Desiree Kelly creates

memorable, vivid portraits of public historical icons.

With each portrait she renders,

she highlights her subject's life and personality.

(guitar music)

- I try to like go beyond like the boundaries.

I just wanna speak really through my art.

I find it really powerful to be able to tell

a story visually without any words.

My paintings are all about the subjects

and it's all about telling their story and I wanna

tell it in a very vibrant and energetic way

that people wanna know about these people.

So, I've studied art and I want to make it more interesting.

I came to the point where I was in college

and I wanted to decorate my first apartment

and I didn't wanna hang a flower on my wall.

That's not the type of person that I am.

And I wanted to make something that was just something

you would never find it so I had to create it myself.

So the subjects that I pick are people

that I'm interested in and music is just always kept

with me so you find a lot of musicians that I paint

like Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, and I just want

to tell their personality, what I feel about them

because it is their portrait and I wanna make it

more interesting and sort of tell their story

and that someone is 10 years old can look

at a piece that I create and learn a little bit

of something by looking at the piece.

(upbeat guitar music)

The foundation is oil paint, spray paint and collage.

I have evolved to use other mediums like markers,

acrylic paint, it really depends on the subject

and what I wanna convey, the how to do it.

There's some things that you can't paint,

like you have to use physical items that you find,

and that really creates another depth for my art.

It gives it texture.

The person is a little more edgy,

or contemporary or reserved it's really

what I want to convey from their personality.

So for example, I have like a Danny Brown piece

and he's really like wild and from Detroit and edgy

and so I used a lot of collage and spray paint to build up

the background of that piece but the foundation

is oil paint for the actual figure.

(upbeat guitar music)

Abe Lincoln is one of the most iconic pieces

that I have done.

I thought he was just a really interesting guy

'cause he was a boxer you know and he was all

of these crazy things that no one would ever know

about him so when I did my research about him,

all you could find are black and white photos

and I wanted to bring that to modern day.

So you have to add color, put him out of context,

where if like in modern day.

And what I did for my first rendition of him

was put him like in front of a graffiti wall

that said fore score and he was like taking

a picture of himself with like a 35 mm camera.

And he has like a tuxedo on.

It's made like him as a character that brought him

to life and since then I have done several murals

of him actually with these kaleidoscope glasses

that I think are just pretty cool.

It sorta just makes him like an icon of today,

instead of just being stale in history.

I use a lot of like color and movement

to try to capture you as long as possible,

and maybe like put like a little bit of detail

hidden things that you may not see until you look

at it from maybe like the fifth time.

And my pieces are very diverse and can be placed anywhere,

maybe placed in a home or in a restaurant

or you know, for any particular venue.

So it's really interesting that you can find

or learn something by looking at a piece of mine.

I have a Misty Copeland piece that I did.

She's like a phenomenal person and she's accomplished

so many things and broken so many barriers

and so throughout her piece,

I incorporated a lot of magazine covers

and sort of iconic pieces like out of her timeline.

And I chose this pose that was really sort of beautiful.

Today I'm working on a Rob Zombie portrait.

It is actually a part of a bigger project

that I'm doing with a local restaurant, a vegan

and I'm doing a series of vegan musicians.

It's in the early phases of painting, I do multiple layers.

Like I first tone it with the brown

and then I go back and add color.

And I'm also working on an NWA piece which I'm picking

back up after a year of sitting it down.

I had to really think about what I wanted to do

for the background, how I wanted to capture

their essence within the piece.

Like if I wanted to do a little more graffiti,

add a little more spray paint and collage to that piece.

And this guy, Eazy-E, he's like right in the center.

Like he's sort of like in the forefront of this

and these guys are behind him so wanna, like, highlight him

but also not have the background overpower it.

It's probably why I covered up a lot of this.

It lends itself to being more of a quiet background

because they are so in your face

just with their gesture and look.

The phrases that I typically use for a portrait

are song lyrics from that musician themselves,

maybe movies that they were in.

If it's something more closer to home like,

a Danny Brown I did do a bunch

of Detroit streets in the background.

Like a welcome to Detroit city limits sign.

Whatever that is pertaining

to that subject, I would include.

And a lot of like artifacts, like actual albums

and included that part of the piece.

My message is all about telling the stories

of iconic figures, historical figures.

The way that I capture them can be placed

in any setting really and spark a conversation.

(upbeat guitar music)

- Check out more of Kelly's artwork

on her website,

And that wraps it up for this edition of Arteffects.

For more arts and culture or to watch

past episodes, visit

Until next week, I'm Beth MacMillan.

Thanks for watching.

- Funding for Arteffects is made possible

by the Bently Foundation, The June S. Wisham Estate,

Kate and Richard Kenny, The Nell J. Redfield Foundation,

the annual contributions of PBS Reno Members, and by.

(upbeat jazz music)


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