When asked how their work relates to the October 2 First Friday Art Walk theme of “Metamorphosis: Art For Hope and Healing,” two Gulfport artists had very different responses. This week, in preparation for the rebirth of Gulfport’s Art Walk, we take a closer look at the creative minds of these artists.
“Art has been my inspiration, my comfort, my source for healing and my most effective means of communicating the richness and magnificence of nature and people celebrating life,“ says Jack Providenti.
The play of natural light is a major element in his seascapes and portraits, painted in oil on canvas. Providenti uses generous amounts of color and impressionistic brush strokes to capture fleeting and treasured moments instantly recognizable to Floridians.
When he’s not painting the beaches in Gulfport, Pass-A-Grille, Sunset Beach and Fort DeSoto, Providenti also teaches and holds workshops. A first place winner at the Botanical Gardens plein air painting event, he has also received the Artist Showcase Award of Excellence in Gulfport and Best in Show at the South Pasadena Springfest.
Providenti says staying home and social distancing was a boon for his painting, and his style became bolder, brighter and more colorful.
“I found my greatest solace at the beaches where I painted and took snapshots to be used for paintings. Bold, expressive paintings not only took me out of the turmoil of the pandemic, but gave me something to offer others in the hope that these paintings would offer escape from pandemic-induced dreariness,” says Providenti. “My purpose as a painter is to affirm and glorify life. That’s what art does. It heals.”
A few years ago, Berkeley Grimball took an old clarinet into the repair shop and was told that it was not worth overhauling. A jeweler his entire life, he thought, “Mmm, beautiful, dense black wood already machined into a tube, a circle that is the perfect shape, and everything looks good in black.”
And Clarinet Jewelry was born.
At the time, Grimball was still running Grimball Jewelers in Chapel Hill, North C.arolina. After 33 years, he closed the store and moved to Gulfport a year and a half ago. He returned to his roots of designing jewelry, creating pieces using recycled grenadilla wood, a dark African wood that is only used for musical instruments.
“Grenadilla is naturally black in color and has almost no grain, which makes it perfect for jewelry, translating into a clean black surface without distortion,” he says.
Grimball, who also plays the clarinet, says he finds old clarinets at musical instrument repair shops and on eBay. He only uses “non-functional clarinets that have already lived their lives as musical instruments.”
He began creating jewelry in college with his roommate, using only three tools and two techniques to make simple wire pieces. He discovered he was able to access his creativity within that very limited tool box. These days he focuses his skill and creativity on making pieces that incorporate wood from clarinets.
Grimball says that his work relates to the Art Walk theme because his unique creations “metamorphose clarinets into new art. I love that the wood that once made beautiful music is now making art. If a piece speaks (sings) to someone I hope they enjoy wearing it as much as I did creating it.”