Artistic talent abounds

First Posted: 5/30/2009

One of the things that continually amazes me about this area is the rich artistic talent of so many people who live in Mount Airy, Surry County, and the surrounding region.
This community has some wonderful attributes chief among them the pleasant people who live here but lets face it, Surry County isnt exactly a burgeoning metropolis. The U.S. Census Bureau says there are roughly 74,000 people living here. One would think there just arent but so many artistically inclined folks to be found in a relatively small group of that size.
Yet, I keep finding so many talented people here.
In previous columns Ive mentioned local writers such as Tom Perry, Randle Brim and Frank Levering, not to mention scads of bluegrass and mountain music practitioners.
Ive come across even more people who impressed me with their talent, and their devotion to their chosen art.
On May 23, I stopped by ParkART, a fundraiser and art show put on by The Gallery Group at the Robert Smith Memorial Park on Main Street. Apparently, I wasnt the only one who stopped by event organizers estimated upwards of 350 people attended the event.
Looking at some of the work on display there, watching some of the artists work in the park, was really a treat. Im not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to what makes good drawing and painting, but that day there were quite a few folks in the park who clearly were good at what they do.
An arena in which I am more familiar is that of writing, and to a lesser degree performance art, having spent some time involved with live theater in a couple of different communities where Ive lived.
I still recall thoroughly enjoying an evening of storytelling last October, when Brack and Angela Llewellyn shared an evening of spooky stories near Halloween. Of course, Brack and Angela are regulars in local stage productions, and Brack, I understand, has written some plays as well.
This week I chatted with two local men, Paul Hodges and Dan Hornak.
Hodges is known for his stage work in the area, having developed three one-man stage shows as well as written a number of poems, short stories and a couple of books. Several of his stories and poems have seen publication, as well as eight chapters of his most recent book. I can tell you from experience getting work published is no easy feat, and to do so speaks of a certain professional level of quality in his work.
Hornak worked for a number of years in Washington doing television production work for Congress, but along the way he has followed his own artistic path. Hes developed a character named Jake Thorne, based on John Waynes western television acting, and hes working that into a one-man show.
Most recently, he appeared in the movie State of Play, starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. Although Hornak did not have a speaking part, he is prominently visible in two different scenes. Hes also acted in other film work and stage productions.
I suppose at this point it seems Im just listing local artists and some of what they do, and thats not exactly what I want this to be.
Im just, as Ive said, amazed at the level of artistic talent and dedication among the people in our community. Some people who make a living from their art, others who pursue it for the simple joy the art brings to them and those who they share it with.
I hope we all take time to appreciate, and support, the artists of our community.
John Peters is editor of The Mount Airy News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or 719-1931.

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