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'Go Figure II' to Grace Highland Galerie Through December 21

Every Friday morning in Columbus, Georgia, a group of local artists gather together at the studio of Garry Pound for a figure study class. On any given week, anywhere from several to more than a dozen artists attend. Each one contributes to the model's fee, and everyone brings their own supplies.

Morning light cascades across historic wood floors of what was once an old church. It is time to begin. Their model chooses a pose, a timer is set, and the artists settle into their seats. It is completely silent except for quiet music played from a nearby device, and the occasional sound of graphite or paintbrush on paper. The collective focus is tangible. No one speaks.

And then?

Images start appearing in sketchbooks almost immediately. The creative energy cascades through the room gathering like a nebulous in the air. The work is intellectual, academic, pedagogical. The artists are sagacious in their choices. Erasures are rare and often unnecessary. The study is meticulous. Grueling, even.

But it is wholly beautiful. Witnessing artists work this way, in this place, is an expedition into a manifestation of beauty many never experience.

It is real.

Studio Mirage.

Inside Go Figure | October 25, 2019

The Figure Drawing Class, or Go Figure as it's lovingly referred to, began years ago as a way for artists to connect and practice their craft. What was conceived as a small gathering of locals has grown into a vibrant, diverse community gathering of numerous artists across multiple mediums and generations. They work tirelessly to hone their craft, and in the meantime, develop lifelong friendships. A creative community that is serious, receptive, and encouraging. An informal collective to call their own.

Pound, who has enjoyed a highly successful career in Columbus, said he believes strongly in the power of providing a space for artists to connect with one another. Why? He's seen the impact it has had in his life and work, and he wants others to share in that experience that as well.

Pound has been studying the human figure for the majority of his time in Columbus, Georgia. “I taught figure drawing after grad school at the museum for nearly 20 years," explained Pound. "I enjoyed the connections I made there with artists and students, and it was a way to stay close to my parents who both attended regularly. We picked up the figure drawing sessions again, first at Bo’s studio, then I took it on, and have been hosting the sessions every Friday for the last 4 or 5 years."

The Artists Drawing Her.

Inside Go Figure | October 25, 2019

It's about more than just having a class, though. There is a reason it's always a figure study. "Figure drawing is unforgiving and intimate and humbling," confessed Pound. As an artist, it is perhaps the most difficult thing to get right because it doesn’t rely on materials or style or technique."

The artist went on to explain the challenges found in the quest to perfect the skill. "It is about perception and being aware. You can’t hide behind good pencil work, or what you think you know, if you’re not focused and attuned to the model in front of you. It takes discipline to truly see, and drawing the human figure will expose any lapse in the way we perceive the world."

The challenge is difficult enough, but Pound believes the greatest benefit often comes from steadfast work in a nurturing environment.

"No matter how well you draw, there will always be room to discover and improve and grow as an artist," he said. "The process is enhanced when artists gather together and soak in the energy of one another. The immediacy in the act of drawing the figure —and its reliance on a disciplined, focused awareness — is why it is the basis (in my humble opinion) for all creative visual art.”

Local artist Bunny Hinzman has been attending the class for some time. "The opportunity to study the human form is essential to my practice," she said. "I am fascinated by observing everyone’s unique perspectives of the one model. The figure drawing sessions bring together a diverse group of artists where each person is committed to their own path, and I find that very inspirational."

Bunny Enthralled.

Inside Go Figure | October 25, 2019

Hinzman went on to add that the community is also a crucial benefit to her life and art.

“Artistically, no one is forcing anyone to be anything other than themselves," she explained. "At its essence, it is a community and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

After years of working every week on figure studies, the group of Go Figure artists have developed quite a collective body of work. Just last year, they hosted their first local show where they displayed work created at Go Figure. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Now, they're set to open a second show of work created at the class. "Go Figure II" opens November 8 at Highland Galerie. The show will run through December 21 - making it the perfect place to shop for holiday gifts large and small this holiday season.

Inside Go Figure | October 25, 2019

Go Figure artist and longtime Columbusite Gloria Mani is pleased with the way the community is fostering a love of the arts. She also believes Columbus has a long way to go. “We need local businesses and community members to purchase their art locally. We need to actively support our local artists so that Columbus, Georgia continues to develop into a place where artists come to learn, develop their techniques, and then feel like they can stay here longterm.”

Mani is hopeful that local corporations and businesses will begin adding the work of local artists to their permanent collections. "We are doing an incredible job as a community of educating and equipping young artists," explained Mani. "Our city has become a destination for artists across the Southeast to come and study and develop their skills. They come here to learn, and many of them want to stay, but they simply cannot eat their paint. We have to support them if we want to continue to grow into the type of community we're on track to be." ◼︎

Watch the video below for a further look inside a morning with the artists of Go Figure.

Special thanks to Garry Pound and all participating artists for allowing The Columbusite to document such an intimate space and aspect of their artistic practices.

If You Go

What: Go Figure II

When: November 8 - December 21 | Opening reception November 8 from 5 - 8 p.m.

Where: Highland Galerie, 3110 2nd Ave, Suite 1

Cost: Free to enter. Pricing of art varies.


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