February 22, 2016
By Zuzu Kelly Perkal
Austin is notorious for it’s profusion of dynamic visual and performance artists. Brad Walton and Gregory James are two significant local artists that thread the intricate web of working artists in Austin, TX.
Brad and Gregory use the creative medium of chalk and wax in conjunction with female models to create compelling masterpieces for the world to see. Covered & Revealed was a showcase about ‘Paying Empowerment Forward’, an evening brimming with art, music, female empowerment and fundraising to support Planned Parenthood. The event took place at Vuka, a “modern community center in the heart of Austin where like-minded people come together to celebrate life personally and professionally”.
Original art work was created live during the event, for viewers to experience firsthand what the process entails and how they create such a powerful transformation in the women the artists work with.
All artwork at the event was available through silent auction with 100% of the proceeds from the live pieces, 50% of the proceeds from all other existing pieces as well at 100% of profits from tickets sales and any other donations going directly to Planned Parenthood.
Interview with Brad Walton
Zuzu: What’s your story?
Brad: I’ve lived in Austin for about 7.5 years now. I’ve been making things my entire life, but spent the last 25 years ago working in the web designing industry. I felt like it was killing my soul. I was inspired to start working with chalk when I saw the movie Pina. I was so inspired by her work, I decided to paint all the walls in my house with chalk paint. I had women stand in front of the walls and I threw chalk on them to make silhouettes. I decided with one model to cover her body in chalk and press her against the wall. I started noticing the women I was working with were having transformative experiences where whatever their body image story was, was shifted to a positive place. They left feeling empowered and beautiful.
I have such a deep love and appreciate for women. It’s important to me to take care of women in society and uplift them.
Zuzu: Why do you think women come to you with a body image mindset, and leave feeling differently?
Brad: It’s a combination of things. First off, I make my models feel safe and comfortable which allows them to be vulnerable and thus malleable when making these art pieces. Secondly, I’m a man. Finally, because this is a direct transfer of their body, it’s not an exact image of their body. It makes it different than looking in the mirror or at a photo. The models cant really pick themselves apart, they see themselves as art. If the art is beautiful, their body has to be beautiful. This creates a lasting effect on the women.
Zuzu: Talk a little about this collection specifically.
Brad: I worked with seven models in the ten pieces. Each session I’ll do between 6-10 prints depending on what I’m trying to capture. It’s always different each time. You never know how much each model will allow their guard to come down and be a part of the process rather than be processed. Also, it’s important to me to work with a wide range of body types and with women up into their 90’s.
Every woman should have the opportunity to see herself in a new way and find out how beautiful she is right now.
Zuzu: Describe your art in three words.
Brad: Real, real chalky.
Zuzu: Anything else you want to add?
Brad: I turned 48 in October and I spent most of my life looking for my thing, and this is my thing. It encompasses so much of who I am.
Interview with Gregory James
Zuzu: Tell me a little about yourself.
Gregory: I’m Gregory James and I stared doing art about 6 weeks ago. Brad Walton showed me his art and I was inspired. I was thinking of ways I could help him secure and preserve his work. While doing this, I tipped over a candle and thought this could be a cool concept. I called two of my friends over and tested it out. Two weeks later I quit my job and spent the last 6 weeks creating this series.
Zuzu: How many models and how many pieces are in this showcase?
Gregory: Twelve models and eleven pieces. One piece has two models in it. The way this started was with my two friends, “the friends series”. It grew from there. I then started doing solo sessions with myself and a model. Their stories are represented in the art. Each piece is emotional to both me and to the models.
Zuzu: What’s the purpose behind creating these pieces? What have you learned through this process?
Gregory: Originally I wanted to create a unique sexy piece of art but after seeing what the models experienced I turned more to creating an experience where the art became the outward expression of the models. My outlook hasn’t really changed but it made me realize how art can be used as a platform to tell a story or represent someone or some truth, yet still leave room for outside interpretation. Each piece has a story which had been built throughout the life experiences of the models and is a representation of there current state. Once I realized this and that the art which represents that story, to me, is unique, sexy and interpretive I wanted to keep making more pieces and providing more experiences for other women.
Zuzu: Describe your art in three words.
Gregory: Uniquely. Expressing. Truth
Zuzu: Discuss what it’s like working with wax.
Gregory: Using wax or even making art was never really a thought. But I had tipped over a candle while my mind was in a place which together brought an idea to light. I saw how the wax adhered to wood and other materials, how it was unpredictable yet dynamic and ultimately creates something that is not easily replicated if at all. This creates a piece that is dynamic, leaves room for interpretation, tells a story, creates a unique experience is original.
Music by DJ Ariel, a live performance by Twin Scars.
Bar Services Provided by: Drink Slingers
Delicious Bites by: Duchess Of Delights (Juliana Gilchrist)
Tito’s Vodka, Pura Vida Tequila & JuiceLand, Zilker Brewing Company, and Rockstar Bagels
Photos by: Drazah