September 29, 2013

Moving art

Rachel Brown

— When Stephanie Moss looked at the puzzle of colors and shapes freshly painted onto the side of Kellie’s Design Studio, she saw opportunity.

“A doorway into anywhere you want to be,” the kindergarten teacher explained.

When Dalton State College theater professor Jackie Daniels looked at the same illustration, she saw music. Smith meanwhile saw a cityscape reflecting Dalton.

Artist Trek Matthews might have envisioned a little of all three when he designed the mural, which organizers introduced in a public ceremony on Hamilton Street involving dance Saturday evening. Matthews and eight other people who worked on the project with him are part of the Living Walls group, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization of street artists known for creating murals in public spaces.

Matthews, 21, is a Georgia State University printmaking major who said he wanted to incorporate the concept of trains in his work here as well as a fascination he has with transportation. There is also a carpet in the design, he said.

“It’s essentially a figure running toward the left,” said Matthews, who along with the rest of the team has worked on the mural since Thursday using latex and aerosol paints in color combinations Smith helped select to coordinate with the surroundings.

He’s worked on a few other murals before and said he may end up designing more as Living Walls and dance group gloATL travel to five other Georgia cities between now and Nov. 25 sharing their work.

As Matthews painted into the evening Saturday to complete the mural, dancers from gloATL wove their way from Dalton City Hall, through the Downtown Dalton Beer Festival and past the Whitfield County Republican Party’s Freedom Rocks festival before arriving to their blue carpet “stage” in front of the Dalton Depot and next to the mural in King Street.

Lauri Stallings of gloATL said she hopes her group of six who came to Dalton inspired people with their unique style of dance, some of which included audience interaction. The group, which partnered with Living Walls, has been in town most of the week doing presentations and performances.

While some people seemed not to know how to react when the dancers came up to them sporting their moves or trying to interact, at least one person knew exactly what to do. Olivia Wood bounced right onto the blue carpet with them, mimicking their moves, jumping up and down and making circles across the stage.

For a few minutes, the 2-and-a-half-year-old stole the show — and the crowd loved it. Stallings remarked afterwards she might have to recruit Olivia for her act.

“The children are the most connected to the work,” she added. “She is expressing what everyone else can’t seem to find a way to get to.”

Olivia’s grandmother, Denise Wood, said the little girl “just loves to dance.”

The Dalton projects were made possible through a partnership among the Dalton-Whitfield County Library, Creative Arts Guild, Downtown Dalton Development Authority (DDDA), city of Dalton, Dalton State College and Kellie Smith Design Studio.