Episode 615

In this episode of ARTEFFECTS meet artist Kelsey Rolling of Reno, visit the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, see the bold canvases of Brenden Spivey, and the self-taught artist Eddie Mormon.

AIRED: February 18, 2021 | 0:26:46

- In this edition of ARTEFFECTS,

the colorful realism of Kelsey Rolling.

(upbeat music)

- [Kelsey] I got to a point where I was like,

I can just paint my representation that I want.

It kind of serves as filling gaps

in places where I think they need to be filled.

- [Guinivere] Cowboys who use poetry

and music to celebrate their culture.

- I think people come here and revel in the idea

that there still is a life on the land.

(upbeat music continues)

- [Guinivere] Bold and abstract canvases.

- I've never really given myself a label.

A lot of people say that I paint with joy.

- [Guinivere] And a self-taught impressionist artist.

- It's a feel that you get. It's a feel.

It's all about your feeling.

You gotta feel it from your soul,

and from your heart and your mind.

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

(jazz music)

- [Announcer] Funding for ARTEFFECTS is made possible by...

Sandy Rafealli, the June S. Wisham Estate,

Carol Franc Buck, Merrill and Leo Newman,

Heidemarie Rochlin, Meg and Dillard Myers,

the annual contributions of PBS Reno members, and by...

- Hello, welcome to ARTEFFECTS.

I'm Guinivere Clark, filling in for Beth Macmillan.

Imagine bright colored backgrounds

with realistic portraits of pop culture icons.

I am describing the art of Kelsey Rolling,

a young artist based in Reno

who focuses her work on representation.

(hip-hop music)

- My name's Kelsey Rolling.

I'm a painter full-time right now.

I do a lot of work that focuses on intersectional feminism,

'cause of lack of representation.

Basically just figurative works of women of color,

I would describe my work as, with varying influences

depending on what's going on in my life.

(hip-hop music continues)

- Kelsey's a portrait artist,

so when we approach portraiture

that third wall is completely broken

so we get to stare at the subject,

spend time with the subject,

which is the really impactful thing about portraiture work

and the ability that Kelsey is able to have on her audience.

It's just this profound sense of like,

who is the subject, how can I get to know them,

how can I do a little more research to understand them?

Especially in regards to the pop culture references

and the art history references

that she has throughout her work.

- I get a lot of my ideas from looking at a bunch of things.

I'm really fascinated by how saturated our visual world is,

so I look at social media things like Instagram

and see cool photos or paintings.

So it starts with getting reference images.

I use mixed media.

I paint with a lot of acrylic paint as base layers

and then I use oil paints to do my figures mainly,

so I can get really good detail on them.

I'll pick a solid color that I think is really beautiful

and just base the whole painting energetically around that.

And that's why I start with the acrylics

and then I'll do a rough sketch of the figure,

and then I'll paint it in with oils from there.

(hip-hop music continues)

A lot of what makes something look real

is focusing on things

that you wouldn't want to include on a face almost,

if you're drawing it.

I remember when I was younger, I would draw things

and I wouldn't include certain shadows,

or certain blemishes, or certain marks under the eyes

that really make something look realistic.

So I try to just focus on the little highlights

and different colors and shading,

'cause there's just so much variation

that goes into a face and skin tones.

I look at a lot of references, but painting as it's seen

and not how your brain wants to see it.

I think that's made me expand my idea of beauty

in a lot of ways too, which was nice.

I'm just more accepting of a lot of different things,

'cause it all just looks so beautiful to me.

(hip-hop music continues)

- The type of response that we typically get

from Kelsey's work comes from a audience

that's more connected with social media.

So we get a little bit, mostly consisting of young people

just really vibing her work,

really into the subject matter she's pursuing.

- I know my art isn't necessarily

geared towards a younger audience,

but I think having people who look like me

or can relate to me and see me as an artist

who's just painting people

that look something like them would be really nice,

'cause that's what I wanted when I was younger,

so I hope to have that for people who need that as well,

regardless of how old they are.

I grew up in a different time than it is now.

We all grew up in a time where there wasn't really

a lot of places where you'd see black people

or brown people in things.

That really influenced me a lot as a kid

because I know a lot of other people can relate

to wanting to look different or act different.

Growing up, it's hard when you're just like,

where am I in these places?

I got to a point where I was like,

I can just paint my representation that I want.

It serves as filling gaps

in places where I think they need to be filled.

(hip-hop music continues)

People gain an understanding

and can relate to people if they see them.

If you grew up with a bunch of people

who looked really different, you don't think that's weird.

If you grow in Reno and there's not a lot of brown people,

you don't really know how to interact with them sometimes.

And I experienced that growing up,

is just people being confused by my hair

or confused about my appearance

'cause they're a biracial couple so they didn't understand.

More exposure to different types of people

just creates more tolerance in a way,

or accepting in a way, or just normalization at least.

(hip-hop music continues)

I want people to stop for a moment.

I want it to have enough detail, enough confusion in it

that people take a moment to look at it.

I'm intrigued by personal understanding of it,

'cause I think everybody responds to everything differently

given their background and given their options on art.

I would like them to just question where we see people

and how we see them, and how we interact with them,

and recognize beauty in different forms and different ways.

(hip-hop music continues)

- To see more of Rolling's artwork

visit her website at

Cowboys from around the world gather in Nevada

to share stories, music, and poems.

Let's take a look the endearing art of the American West.

(country music)

♪ Through the rocks and the sands ♪

♪ And all desert's demands

♪ Through the sky that's eternally blue ♪

♪ I will ride through the day

♪ And will work without pay

♪ To stay on my dear old desert home ♪

♪ My desert home

- Traditions that are being carried on here

at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering

are something that can't be duplicated anywhere else.

- I think people come here and they revel in the idea

that there still is a life on the land

and that that life bares fruit that is poetic and musical.

And it's just very real.

- I made my living horseback for over 30 years

and I still do.

It's a privilege to be able to share those things

that I get to experience in realtime

that someone else may only know

by the spoken word at a performance.

So I feel like the material deserves

to be handled with care

and I really want to do that skillfully.

- [Hal] The heritage in this community is ranching

and a lot of the great singers and cowboy poets

who are at this event are from this area.

They're from buckaroo culture.

- If you think about, if it weren't for Elko,

there's a lot of cowboys out there

that don't come to Elko or don't go to gatherings

that probably write music, poetry that we don't know about.

And this gives the world a chance to hear unsung cowboys.

- The hills get awful quiet when you have to camp alone

and it's mighty apt to start a fell thinkin'.

He'll almost always waken when a horseshoe hits a stone

or you hear the sound of hobble chains a-clinkin'.

- When we started this event, we really made

most of our decisions based on what we thought

would attract cowboys and ranch people.

It's really because of the cowboy poets who I've met

who I thought were courageous and decided to make a stand,

and say their own poems and write their own songs.

- It helps a fella see himself through other people's eyes

and when he does, his pride takes quite a fall.

'Cause when you're all alone and thinkin', friend,

you come to realize

that you're a mighty calmin' feller after all.

Bruce Kiskaddon.

(audience applauding)

- There's been a growth over the years that has,

I think, improved the quality of work.

It hasn't lessened the value of the classics,

but it has certainly increased the quality

of the contemporary stuff.

- I've been playing for almost five years now

at cowboy poetry gatherings.

And a lot of the times people will be a little worried,

I think because of my age,

especially when I was younger at 14 and 15,

about what I was gonna be portraying as cowboy music.

And I have a very different take on cowboy music.

I have so much respect for the traditions,

but I write from a position of a teenage girl.

I write about how different it is

to be a woman riding broncs and working on a ranch,

and my perspective of that.

♪ Can't cut a calf and rope a cow ♪

♪ Set a strap, shoot coyotes

♪ Hold the reins, twist wire

♪ Sew a patch for a baby boy

♪ They may look small

- I know a lot of young ranch kids

who are great cowboys and good horsemen,

and they're emersed in the culture

but not in the arts that emerged from the work,

so it's great to find young people

who not only can go out and get a job done,

but they have embraced the art form

that really is unique and specific to the cowboy culture.

- [Hal] We're all in this to have an art form live,

and survive, and thrive.

- That's another part of the traditions at Elko

that is so important, is that we get to pass it on

to the younger kids.

They are the next generation after me

and that's kind of a staggering thought for me.

(girl yodeling)

- [Randy] It expanded over the years

to be more than just performance oriented.

It isn't just storytelling, poetry, and song.

Other things have come in that have made it richer.

(upbeat music)

(musicians vocalizing)

It's dispelled a lot of mythology with people

who don't rub shoulders with the cowboy culture,

or the ranching culture, or the farming culture.

We have a tendency to isolate and separate,

and so a lot of folks

who don't know a (indistinct) about a cow

can come here and hear the perspective of someone

who that has been a centerpiece of their life.

- And I think cowboys, we are a dying breed,

and we need to be able to have the authority

to speak in a way that people will listen.

- It's an honorable profession

that has diminished in numbers

and it's great to see a stronghold of that culture here

being celebrated both by rural dwellers and urban dwellers.

- I think people value this.

They come and they're nurtured by it.

Being around these other artists give me heart to go on.

To keep creating, to keep performing,

to keep writing new poetry, to stay engaged.

♪ So be warned by my lot

♪ Which I know you will not

♪ And learn about the women from me ♪

(audience laughing)

(audience applauding)

- To learn about this year's event,

go to nationalcowboypoetrygathering.o.

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

Which one of these important artists

is best known for their photography

and focuses on issues including racism,

sexism, politics, and personal identity?

Is the answer, A: Romare Bearden,

B: Alma Woodsey Thomas,

C: Horace Pippin,

or D: Carrie Mae Weems?

Stay tuned for the answer.

For our next segment, meet Columbus artist Brenden Spivey.

His use of bold colors and playful shapes

reflects his lively personality.

(piano music)

- I've never really given myself a label.

A lot of people say that I paint with joy energy,

so those who know me know that I can be very energetic,

and I think a lot of that personality comes out

in some of the colors that I use, shapes that I use.

There's never gonna be anything overly dull or dramatic.

(paintbrush scraping)

I like action so you'll see large swipes,

bright colors, texture.

So that's kind of how I view my work.

(fingernails scratching)

(spray bottle spritzing)

So I'm a big fan of abstract, which is kind of ironic,

'cause that's what I do.

I didn't like the literal interpretation, necessarily,

of skylines, barns, and trees.

I liked being able to have my own vision

of what the art piece meant,

because I think abstract painters paint with intention,

but we also paint with intuition,

so I found it really fascinating just to see

what do I see going into the piece

versus what they said that they saw.

(hip-hop music)

2017, I was looking for something a little more productive

to do as far as stress relief.

I used to run and lift, and not that that's not productive,

it just takes a lot of time (laughs) and dedication.

But I wanted something a little more,

so I think for me looking at artwork

was always kind of therapeutic,

so I wanted to give that a shot

and not being trained to do this, it was different.

This is the Hayley Gallery.

(upbeat guitar music)

For me, this place is very homey,

and what I like about it is

I can find everything that I want.

So, if I'm looking for abstract art,

if I'm looking for glass, I'm able to find that here.

So it's not just a gallery to me, it's like a home.

So I will have rotations of artwork in,

so I typically will have between three

to five pieces at a time in.

This one is called, "Rise Up."

So this all goes back to some of the movements

that we were currently going through, social unrest

and all that stuff, so I wanted to give something.

If you look at the tones of browns and earth tones.

So it's pushing you a certain direction

without necessarily taking you all the way there.

(sorrowful music)

We wanted to get involved

in the whole Black Lives Matter movement.

Not necessarily through protest and those means,

but how can we use our artistic voices

to make a very strongly stated message without saying words.

And the two murals that we did,

the first one was at the Ohio Theater,

and it was a compilation of fields of flowers

and young children that were black,

and she was picking flowers,

and the young boy had a paintbrush.

And then I came in as the artistic abstract sky

of shapes and color.

And Will came in with the cityscape.

I think it was a really great fusion

of all of our talents together,

because normally you would not have an abstract painter

mixed with two more traditionally trained artists.

But I think that, to me,

that's what made the work so powerful.

(sorrowful music concludes)

Spencer, that's awfully close, buddy.

So, Spencer is my double doodle.

High five? Yes!

He's another reason I do a lot of the things that I do.

You're gonna get all the treats.

I get joy out of seeing him enjoy things in life

and it's the money that comes in from art sales

helps put him into daycare, pays for his vet bills

that are so expensive, and just overall,

just everyday things for him.

Like, that's my buddy.

Can you lay flat?

He brings me joy, and I think having more joy in my life

has also probably helped my art work transcend.

You just don't see how handsome you are.

I think another thing that drove me

to want to become a painter was being told

that painters are born this way.

Artists are born artists

and they're artists their entire lives.

That, for me, was a personal challenge.

So, not only was I wanting to get out there and paint,

and find a way to relax, I wanted to prove somebody wrong.

(Brenden laughs)

And it's been a hit so far so I was right.

You don't know what you're capable of until you do it

and I live my life that way.

And I want to get out there and just try it.

(euphoric music)

- To learn more, visit

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

Which one of these important artists

is best known for their photography

and focuses on issues including racism,

sexism, politics, and personal identity?

Is the answer, A: Romare Bearden,

B: Alma Woodsey Thomas, C: Horace Pippin,

Or D: Carrie Mae Weems?

And the answer is D: Carrie Mae Weems.

Eddie Mormon of Louisiana started painting

at a very young age.

Since then, he has created a multitude

of impressionist works rich with color,

movement, and feeling.

(Cajun music)

- I learned how to paint

from the dirt down here on the ground

when I was five-years-old.

In the grass, in the weeds, in the mud, in the clay.

I would take flowers and make art with it,

and get all of the juice of it

and turn the color in a little bottle.

When the clay that we had was that red Alexandria clay,

it get hard for us.

You could make pottery with that kind of stuff.

I would paint on clay, paper, wood.

1969, I was working at Piccadilla's.

They had a little old woman. She was very godly.

She had a good spirit, blonde hair,

and she was the mother of Piccadilla's.

She bought my first painting.

I paint every day.

I've been inspired with what God tells me what to paint.

(upbeat music)

The duck painting, that's gonna be a fundraiser.

See, I'm an artist.

When people tell me what they want,

I give them what they want.

They want a building, I'll do a building.

(upbeat music continues)

Look at Chef John Folse.

(upbeat music continues)

I worked for 25 years on the waterfront.

I used to have to get up early in the morning.

Early morning is the best time for me to see the moon,

the stars, the first quarter, the second quarter,

the third quarter, and the last quarter, and the stars.

They inspired me like Van Gogh.

All your master painting huge.

Big painting is museum painting like Rembrandt.

I painted 80 x 60 customized canvas

made out of Houston, Texas.

You gotta have lots of paint to cover that.

I painted sunflowers. I painted Lake Charles Bridge.

(psychedelic music)

I paint in Hawaii and I got some more commissions

to paint that airport here in Lake Charles on 80 x 60.

I make my own color. See, I use primary colors.

I don't go with all those off color.

You make your color like you're cooking.

I'm color blind. I see shadows and shades.

And Frank, I paint it with a knife.

My favorite part about painting is it comes from your soul.

It's a feel that you get.

And when that feel you get went in, it's just like singing.

Nobody can stop you from express yourself.

It's a spiritual thing, really.

Anybody that do something from their soul,

you cannot put a time on it, it comes from you.

How long it take?

You take a musician like Marvin Gaye, or the staple singers,

Or the one Stevie Wonder. Or R&B record.

Well, you know what, it's a feel that you get.

Its a feel. It's all about your feeling.

You gotta feel it from your soul,

and from your heart and your mind.

It better not be no few days. You'll starve and go broke.

It is a very hard living to make.

If artists don't go on the road and get exposure,

the best thing for them to do is just say well, well, well,

I'm just doing it as a hobby.

Oh, I go all over. I went to Colorado Springs,

New York, Paris, France.

Whatever it takes for me to get there, I'll be there.

I'm living to see my fame. Praise the Lord.

(psychedelic music concludes)

- Discover more at

And that wraps it up for this edition of ARTEFFECTS.

For more arts and culture, or to watch past episodes,


Until next week, we are PBS Reno. Thanks for watching.

- [Announcer] Funding for ARTEFFECTS is made possible by...

Sandy Raffealli, the June S. Wisham Estate,

Carol Franc Buck, Merrill and Lebo Newman,

Heidemarie Rochlin, Meg and Dillard Myers,

the annual contributions of PBS Reno members, and by...

(upbeat music)

(jazz music)


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