WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 920

Brian "Two Horns" Cargile uses his vivid imagination to craft full body costumes. Artist Lea Anderson creates two- and three-dimensional art that is reminiscent of the natural world. An exhibition celebrates the visuals and culture of the Houston ship channel through photography. Photographer Watson Brown creates nostalgic images of disappearing places in Eastern North Carolina.

AIRED: October 22, 2020 | 0:26:45

(upbeat music)

[Voiceover] This is a production of WEDU PBS,

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota.

Major funding for "WEDU Arts Plus",

is provided through The Greater Cincinnati Foundation,

by an arts loving donor,

who encourages others to support your PBS station, WEDU.

And by the Pinellas Community Foundation,

giving humanity a hand since 1969.

[Dalai] In this edition of "WEDU Arts Plus",

a costume designer creates a dystopian world.

- My whole ethos is to pay homage

to the God of practical effects,

which is all things practical effects

in movies and in TV shows.

[Dalai] Finding the human spirit in multimedia art.

[Lea] And so I think there's a parallel that can be found,

between the unseen world of ideas,

and the biological world of living things.

[Dalai] A presentation of ship workers.

[Pat] So this exhibition is really about giving voice

to the men and women who work along the ship channel,

and are the essential element in making it happen.

[Dalai] And capturing forgotten architecture.

[Watson] You know, I wanna document things,

but I also wanna create photographs that are really nice,

like history like.

It's all coming up next on "WEDU Arts Plus".

(upbeat music)

Hello, I'm Dalia Colon, and this is "WEDU Arts Plus".

Tampa costume and prop designer, Brian "TwoHorns" Cargile,

creates some extraordinary characters.

His detailed designs imagine a future

where man and machine are merged.

This story was produced by students

at St. Petersburg College, in partnership with WEDU.

(upbeat music)

My name is Brian "TwoHorns", and I'm from Tampa, Florida.

I design and create original sci-fi characters,

costumes, and props.

Well, I started with cardboard when I was 15,

I just was tired of Halloween costumes,

they were just garbage, the kind you'd buy at stores,

or just they were cheap and poorly made mass produced stuff.

And I was like,

"I can do better than this."

So I started with cardboard,

and worked my way up to better materials.

I only did it once a year at first,

until about 2012 when I started doing it like full time,

and like, I started making like four or five suits a year.

I started with respirators,

I started selling custom respirators,

and there were just little sci-fi designs and stuff.

And I started posting them on the internet,

I would take my own photography and stuff like that.

And people were like,

"How can I buy this, where do you get ?"

So I opened the Etsy shop.

It also helps I take good photography.

So images are a huge important,

like the quality of images are important to,

you know, how it reaches,

because everyone wants to see high quality images of things

when they're scrolling through Instagram or whatever,

so you have to keep up with image quality for sure.

My pieces have been used in a lot of indie films,

some commercials,

and most recently an earth game music video.

My whole ethos is to pay homage

to the God of practical effects,

which is all things practical effects

in movies and TV shows and everything like that.

Everything CGI and I want to bring

more practical effects to this universe.

I wanna bring more realistic robot costumes,

and, you know, things that you can do with CGI,

but are much more satisfying to watch,

'cause you can definitely tell, you can always tell,

practical effects will always have a place.

Yeah, it's a little bit visionary,

it's like there's a multitude of landscapes

and surreal concepts going on through my head,

and I'm dragging this ethereal concept into reality,

a lot of times I've got these designs floating around

in my head and half the time they're not even on paper,

I just kind of drag them down and start making them.

I guess, my own unique style, I wouldn't say like,

I'm better or more special than anyone else,

you know, everyone when they hone their own specific,

I guess, creative energy,

like you see so many different styles of art,

like, you just gotta follow your own kind of passion.

I guess what makes me different from other artists

is that I'm doing a lot of futuristic cyberpunk designs

that are not really in tune with like

the utilitarian vibe that you see in a lot of movies,

that's really wild and feathers and LEDs everywhere,

and like just lots of energetic elements

that I'm not really sure where it's going,

but it looks cool, so.

So first I'll start with the face,

usually I'll start with the face.

I get a mannequin head which is appropriately sized,

and I'll just build off that.

And yeah, I mean,

like I have mannequins for the rest of the armor, so.

Well, I mean, I do everything from just cutting,

shaping, heat forming, I use superglue,

Barge contact cement, all sorts of other thermal plastics.

There's so much that goes into it, lots of just,

you know, gluing and cutting essentially,

it's all freehanded.

I use the laser cutter for precision,

small little detail parts that I can't do by hand.

And I'll go over and design those in a digital format,

and just batch cut them usually

for small parts and little tiny details.

I use vinyl foam, Cut-Tex, PETG,

all the kinds of thermoplastics, metal tubing,

leathers, polypro webbing,

among just a list of other things.

It's just anything I can warp and create to my own whim.

I just want to be happy

and sustainable like I've been doing now,

but I wanna be able to delegate more work

to other people and work on larger scale projects,

like art installations.

And one of my main goals is to bring

the part of my world that I have in my head

into experiences for people.

So when they walk up to it,

there's like performers and big towers and things like that,

like that can give just a vibe of a different world.

(upbeat music)

- See more of his creations at

In 2003, San Diego native Lea Anderson,

settled in New Mexico,

where she's been exploring the worlds

of two and three-dimensional art.

Her pieces connect philosophy with systems found in nature.

(upbeat music)

- [Hakim] Lea, what inspires you?

- Possibility in the creative act.

For example,

if I have the opportunity to make an installation,

this space is unusual,

it's some kind of a room or some kind of a wall,

or things that aren't canvases

and they aren't pieces of paper.

I do think that I'm painter at the core,

and then the installations are an extension of painting,

and they're really intended to be like

a two-dimensional or flat thing sprouted

and became three-dimensional and grew into real space.

And to me that suggests that ideas are alive,

and that we can watch them grow and we can nurture them.

And so I think there's a parallel

that can be found between the unseen world of ideas,

and the biological world of living things.

- What do you learn, or what do we learn about the world,

when we investigate that,

when we investigate the biological nature of things?

- One of the things that maybe

is a common experience for a lot of people,

is we sense that there's something more to our life.

There's science, which is wonderful,

and it explains a lot of things,

but there are things beyond science

that we sense that we can't really explain.

So I think I like to ride that line between, you know,

what's actually true versus what we don't know.

And I'm so curious about how that world,

beyond the scientific world exists,

because we sense that it's there,

but we can't necessarily prove it's there.

With membrane chain,

it occurred to me that we can share ideas

from one person's mind to another.

For example, if I say,

"Yellow flower."

I have a picture in my mind of that flower,

but now you can make a picture in your mind of that flower.

And those pictures might be different pictures,

but they're related to one another.

And somehow that information transferred

from one place to another,

it's like an energy or an idea has moved

from one person's mind to another person's mind.

So for membrane chain, I wanted to see

if I could visually demonstrate what that might look like,

and have discussions about how information is exchanged.

What I think is a piece of art,

represents ideas that the artist had.

So once it's created,

it's sort of the tip of the iceberg,

of huge body of information,

and many questions that that artist

has sort of put all that energy into that one piece of art.

It represents that artist's idea,

it represents the artist world that they live in,

it represents the culture that they came from in many ways.

Once it's created, then the viewer can come

to that piece of art and connect to it,

and it's sort of a reverse experience

where then it leads that viewer

into a whole nother world of ideas.

And so in that way, art is a portal,

or a connector from one set of ideas

to another set of ideas.

- Yeah, and one experience to another experience, right?

- [Lea] Definitely.

- What's important to you about your art?

- That I can keep asking questions,

that I can keep experimenting.

I grew up in a family where both

my parents were pretty philosophical people.

We talked a lot about existence,

and spirituality and things like that.

And though both my parents were very verbal people,

I don't think I'm particularly verbal person,

I think I'm much more visual.

So I think as time has gone by,

I've realized that my work is attempting

to make sense of those ideas

that I would discuss with my family.

It's sort of a way for me to explore the possibilities

of what it means to be alive, what it means to exist.

How are we here?

How is it possible that we experience the things that we do?

Art provides this never ending series of challenges

and questions and results that lead to more questions.

So it becomes sort of an exercise and a therapy,

and a way to make sense of things.

Although the more you try to make sense of things,

the less you really realize you know.

I think it's pretty amazing that

we have the ability to be creative.

I think creativity is just an incredible quality

that humans have, that we can tap into to seek out answers.

- Find out more at

The Houston Ship Channel has been

the lifeline of this Texas city for over a century.

To celebrate the men and women

who contributed to its success,

the Houston Arts Alliance mounted

an exhibition showcasing their stories.

(upbeat music)

- One of the things that attracted me

to the ship channel and to the port of Houston,

was its vastness.

It really is an amazing entity, very organic,

and yet involving literally hundreds of thousands of people.

Stories of a workforce is really a departure

from most treatments of the port

and the Houston Ship Channel.

Because most of them look at the history of an institution,

and those are important things,

but none of it would exist without

the people involved in making those institutions function.

So this exhibition is really about giving voice

to the men and women who work along the ship channel,

and are the essential element in making it happen,

but who are completely unheard in most histories

and renderings of the port or the ship channel.

- My dad and my uncle had a marine transportation company.

They owned tugs and barges,

and they operated out of Houston,

in the Gulf and foreign flag vessels.

I started in the repair business myself in 1998.

They call it getting salt water in your veins,

and you somehow can't get it out.

Every day is different, ships are like little cities,

they've got every kind of system

in them that any city would have.

And so they're incredibly complex,

they have to support people, they have to move products,

and they have to survive

in a salt water corrosive environment.

- [Pat] The exhibition is organized around themes

that were really common in the interviews.

We look at families, we look at communities,

we look at the importance of knowhow,

and knowledge and how that's changed.

We look at the struggles that the workforce

has gone through over the last, in particular 50 years.

We had to create a space where we really could evoke

the environment of the ship channel as much as possible.

So literally we built out a boat,

because we wanted people to have a sense of

what it was like to mount a vessel,

and what it was like to sort of stand at the helm.

We wanted to use large photographs in many instances,

because of the scale of the work that people do,

and the scale of the setting that

is the Houston Ship Channel, it's 52 miles long.

- Port of Houston is one

of the more challenging ports in the United States,

with the amount of traffic we have here.

- The audio visual installations

and the audio installations,

are essential to that whole notion

of really not telling the story through our voice,

but through the voices of the people themselves.

- [Steve] My name's Steve Bennett,

and I started tying up ships in 1977.

I've been doing this job now for 37 years.

The boats I started back 37 years ago were wooden boats,

and I like to say it was when boats

were wooden and men were steel.

I wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots down on the docks,

nowadays I have to wear hard hats, life jacket,

have a radio with me, steel toed boots on,

a lot of stuff has changed.

- The biggest painting that's part of the exhibition,

is one of the great surprises.

I knew it had been commissioned by an ILA Local.

The ILA is the International Longshoremen's Union.

So they just started calling,

and I found TL Simon, who was the president of ILA 24.

And he said,

"Sure enough, it's right here in our union hall."

It's an incredible piece,

it was commissioned in 1957 by ILA 872,

which was an all African-American ILA Local at the time.

And so it's a document, it's an homage,

that Bigger's created really tracing

the history of black labor on the port,

in relationship to the Longshoreman.

- And to show the new worker

that was coming into the industry,

progression from the old age up to now,

the modern times as far as mirror goes.

- [Pat] And stories of a workforce,

the exhibition as a whole,

celebrates that human contribution,

and gives voice to the people who have built,

maintained, and continue to make the ship channel happen,

and be this amazing entity in our city.

- For more information about Houston's local arts,


After retiring Watson Brown returned

to his hometown of Tarboro, North Carolina,

where he began focusing on photography,

capturing images of a quickly disappearing past

in the region.

(upbeat music)

What am I looking for when I come into a house?

I kind of look at things two ways.

You know, I wanna document things,

but I also wanna create photographs

that are really nice artistically.

(upbeat music)

My name is Watson Brown, my home is Tarboro, North Carolina.

A passion is actually my house here that I've retired to,

which is an old 1950s house that I've restored.

Come on, come on, come walk with me.

I guess my relaxation passion is my photography.

Never had a class in photography,

but I learned how to do some finer editing,

and adding certain textures or overlays

that make them look very different.

I can give them different moods, gothic,

make them look like an old English oil painting.

I was kind of an unusual kid.

When I would go on trips with my parents or friends,

and they were talking and thinking about other things,

I was looking at buildings and houses.

(upbeat music)

All of a sudden, I just get the urge to get out.

Got a book of North Carolina County maps that I use.

I'd rather just take this book of county maps,

go to a county and just start driving,

I get lost all the time, but I don't worry about it.

So we're gonna go up into Northern part of the county,

which still has quite a few abandoned buildings.

I'll travel all over Eastern North Carolina,

I stay every road I can find trying

to find treasures, ways of life, sometimes people.

And the owners have said,

we can go up and kind of explore around them,

so that's what we'll do.

(upbeat music)

I just see quite a few houses

that are really wonderful pieces

of architecture like this, and they're overgrown.

It's almost symbolic of what's happened in the state,

in the country, you know, with rural areas,

they've just declined.

Every time I come here,

the lighting's always a little different, different seasons.

I take tons of photos.

And now when I take basic photos,

I'm much more conscientious about how I see it,

how I angle it, what I know will be a better composition.

Over the years my eye can just zoom in on it.

In this case you see the federal wainscotting

with the (indistinct) blocks.

The light might be coming through the windows.

Look at the scorch marks, it's amazing this place.

My understanding is that,

there was a tenant here that set the house on fire.

You hear all kinds of stories when I talk to people,

and you know, Southerners love to tell good stories.

I started showcasing my art,

what intrigued me the most is that

these people really loved what I was doing.

People have said that my photography

is so good for awakening memories in people.

- His work is very exciting and dazzling,

yet it does maintain the focus

of the North Carolina subject matter.

So Watson's work is based on the work

of the important early 20th century Southern photographers,

such as Eudora Welty or Byard Wooten.

Watson goes outside of the margins

with his pop art color and his drama.

I dare say that there are examples

of his work that get quite bohemian.

He has a number of magic processes.

There are screens and filters,

and saturation tools and overlays.

- And then I start playing with the different textures.

Sometimes I don't have a clue what it's gonna end up being.

- The printing method is called an ultrachrome print,

which is a newer ink method

that has UV filtering properties,

so it's a guaranteed 100 year life on the print.

- I think what has evolved in me,

is the joy of transferring to other people,

to just learn how to look and appreciate what we've got,

because if you're not careful, it won't be here.

- To see more, go to

And that wraps it up for this edition of "WEDU Arts Plus",

for more arts and culture, visit

Until next time, I'm Dalia Colon.

Thanks for watching. (upbeat music)

- [Voiceover] Major funding for "WEDU Arts Plus",

is provided through The Greater Cincinnati Foundation,

by an arts loving donor,

who encourages others to support your PBS station, WEDU.

And by the Pinellas Community Foundation,

giving humanity a hand since 1969.

(upbeat music)