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Artist Dan Grissom’s ‘Phases and Stages’

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Drawing the audience close with hands on demo

A unique showing of paintings and screen prints by artist Dan Grissom, was held Sept. 25, at UNM-Gallup in the Ingham Chapman Gallery.

The event entitled “Phases and Stages” was free and everyone was invited including art students from UNM for the artist’s demonstration and talk.

Grissom, who is from Austin, TX was bitten by the art bug as a small child, where he found himself drawing on everything and he knew he wanted to do something with this passion later in life.

He was attracted to graphic arts, along the lines of logo art, whether it be designing a logo for a business or simply designing images. In high school, he kept getting sidetracked with different forms of art, as he joined a painting class, went into ceramics, constantly focusing on different mediums.

At a certain point, he joined a band, and began designing posters to advertise the group. This eventually lured him back to his first love of art. In his senior year, Grissom held his first exhibition show in printmaking and since then he has passionately pursued it.

To a packed room at the Chapman gallery, Grissom gave a hands-on demonstration to an enthused crowd mainly consisting of college art students who have an interest in screen painting.

“I collect a lot of old photos and transfer the images into each other and this produces a unique look,” he said.

One screen painting that stands out is of the famous rock band Metallica.

Grissom says bands are always wanting posters, so he rolled up his sleeves and started creating one-of-a-kind pieces. His break came when the band Metallica was looking for several artists to design a poster for them.

“I had asked my friend who oversaw this if any sort of chance would come up, if he could open a slot for me,” he said.

That chance came. Several artists, including Grissom, were told to come up with something totally unique. He began looking at his old sketch books of various Metallica drawings he had done when he was younger. Most of his drawings included skulls so he added these and was told the band would never go for it.

To his surprise, the band approved his poster and this would be a part of a VIP event to which the posters were distributed as prize giveaways.

One UNM-G art student, who was mesmerized by the poster, was Travis Yazzie, who is currently in an art class.

“I thought it was pretty cool, a lot stuff to learn from, something new, and I never really saw anybody do screen painting before like this,” he said.

Having this type of art exhibit pulls in students who would never step foot into a gallery according to John Zimmerman, associate professor of UNM-G Fine Arts.

“I thought the event was very successful. We had quite a bit of students show up,” he said. “We were excited about the Metallica poster since many of our students love Metallica, or love that style of music. So, we thought it would be a wonderful way to bridge that gap. Sometimes students don’t think they should go into a gallery, and look around or want to go in, so this is an exciting way to draw them into the space.”

Cameron Cardy, door aide for Fort Wingate Elementary, also brought several students down to see the Metallica poster.

“First, I brought my students down because Grissom done some work with Metallica, and a lot of our students are interested in that kind of music and culture,” Cardy said. “Second, I wanted to open their minds by having them attend this art gallery.”

“It was a great, the students really wanted to know about screen printing,” he added. “Especially the Metallica poster, that part might bring a few students out their shell at an art show when they see this band and think now this is on their level.”

Kristi Wilson, adjunct instructor of Drawing/Art Practices in SSMC (Small Scale Metals Construction), says this event was an opportunity for her students to learn more about this particular style of art.

“I think it was very successful … so happy that Dan Grissom was able to meet with my drawing class and have them build some layers that they can share the final product with the entire community,” Wilson said.

It was not only a magnificent event for the students and the community, but for Grissom too.

“I had a great time talking with the faculty, working with students,” he said, “I really love this community – a great community of people to connect with. I’m going home with my heart a little fuller from meeting all the students, hanging out learning from them just as much as they’ve learned from me.”

By Dee Velasco
For the Sun