Fredrick Gene Hall
The distinctive creations of this longtime area resident will be familiar to patrons of White Rabbit, having become nearly as fundamental a fixture on its walls as the sparingly-clad mannequins have on the shop floor. Painted faces do not so much gaze as stare from the canvas, unflinching, ambiguous of expression, their features thrown into sharp relief by a daring use of color and shadow. A Charlotte cityscape hangs alongside a fantastical jungle whose birds emerge from tropical flowers. Hall’s works share an intensely dreamlike quality, unsurprising given the artist’s Elysian inspiration. “God gives me visions,” he writes, “and I paint what I see.”
The Carolinas’ own John Carter Inman is the latest artist to have his work showcased at the Central Ave. retail icon. Inman, 21, chose computer animation as the focus of his studies at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. He pursued this specialized education through online courses while living in his native Catawba, and expects to receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree shortly.
Drawing inspiration from such diverse sources as the animated series Steven Universe — a two-time Emmy nominee renowned for its unconventional portrayal of gender and sexuality — and Icelandic art rock superstars Sigur Ros, whose lead vocalist is gay, Carter Inman’s work is nothing if not unique. His own defiant insistence on self-determination, that powerful Nordic influence, and even a certain brand of dark whimsy unite in one of the artist’s most viscerally affecting creations: “Frelsi” — Icelandic for “freedom.” Starring a creature of fearsome appearance seemingly moments from ripping its way into the human world, the painting evokes “the saying ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’,” Inman explains. “It’s kind of the opposite, where, you know, someone that’s pure and fine and good and just wishes to be accepted and be loved, whereas the outside world, which is, you know, all the chaos, views them as a wolf. As an evil person.”
He hasn’t limited himself to a single means of expression, though. On the contrary, he tells qnotes, “I do sketching, charcoal drawings, I do digital art on the computer, and I make 3-D animation, 3-D models […] I tend to practice a little bit in one area and then move to other areas where I need a bit more focus.” The pieces soon to be displayed at the already colorful White Rabbit are classic acrylic paint on canvas, but even in two dimensions Inman manages to break the mold — much to the chagrin of some. “My dad occasionally has problems with some of the things I draw,” he confesses. “He thinks it’s devilish or wrong, and I feel like it’s, you know, there’s nothing wrong with it.” So why persevere in the face of his family’s objections? Well, in Carter’s case, art imitates life. “I guess you could say I believe in, you know, being my true self, and I guess that compares to how I am with my art.”
For those interested in exploring more of this true self — including “the one piece I made right around the time I came out” — an extensive portfolio is available for viewing at carterinman.squarEspace.com.
“I would say that my art leans towards a comic book type style,” Williams tells qnotes, in a standard-setting example of drastic understatement. Leaving such passé concepts as computer literacy in the dust, he works digital mini-miracles, bringing us figures of popular mythology that crackle with unanticipated new life.
The 28-year-old himself has all the makings of a rising star: talent, originality, passion, a little more talent thrown in for good measure…and a healthy ambition. “I’m a digital artist and as an illustrator, I’m looking to find more work in the Charlotte area,” he says. “I’m also working to get my graphic novel published soon.”
Given Chris Williams’ singular ability to create images both visually and emotionally arresting — the kinds of images from which you find you can’t bring yourself to look away; you think you’ve seen all there is in front of you, until you try to move on to something else and feel that stunning something pull you back — we fervently hope to see that graphic novel on shelves, well, as soon as humanly possible.
Then again, Williams does draw superheroes…so would “as soon as superhumanly possible” be too much to ask?