Having worked under the tutelage of Creative Foundations for the past year, abstract artist Katie Rhoades has decided it’s time to venture out on her own as an artist with her first solo art extravaganza set for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at J. Gumbo’s in downtown Delaware.
“Since it’s New Orleans and Mardi Gras, the restaurant is a perfect fit,” said Michael Hite, Creative Foundations director of marketing. “Space-wise, this is perfect for her.”
Creative Foundations provides integrated support services to individuals with developmental disabilities in Champaign, Delaware, Franklin, Knox and Union counties.
Rhoades will display a collection of her interpretation of celebrity portraits rendered in brilliant colors that blend well with the motif of the Cajun and Creole restaurant. Instantly, the faces of Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, and the self-portrait of the artist herself are recognizable to anyone entering J. Gumbo’s.
Hite said the first piece that Rhoades sold was during a show at Pathways Financial Credit Union. The piece, Rhoades’ rendition of a colorful bison, was purchased by the vice president of the bank.
“I said, ‘I’m going to buy that,’” Hite said, but on second thought, he decided the piece would achieve greater exposure at the bank.
Hite added Rhoades did all the work herself to make the gallery at J. Gumbo’s a reality.
“She is doing it all, this is her show,” Hite said. “We love for the individuals we serve at Creative Foundations to get out into the community and be doing things on their own. I’m only assisting her, but she has put it together.”
Rhoades works in a variety of mediums, such as clay, marker pens, and acrylic paint on canvas to bring her visions to reality. The portraits she selected to hang at J. Gumbo’s are created with both contemporary maker pen and acrylic paint.
Where did the inspiration for the body of work come from?
“My head,” she said. “I like to use markers, because they are easy and they’re bright.”
However, Rhoades expressed that she is moving more toward acrylic paints on canvas.
“I think paintings are more professional,” she said.
Discovering her talent while in high school, Rhoades said she took some time off from drawing, but after receiving some encouragement from her mother, she picked it up again in 2015.
Rhoades’ creative process includes scanning a photo, converting it to black and white, tracing it on paper, and then she begins to add the bright colors to create her eye-popping abstract pieces. But now, she is looking to push herself to new limits.
“I’m completely done with human faces right now,” she said. “Next, I’ll be doing an abstract horse series.”
Rhoades said she is waiting on some 16-by-20 canvases to be delivered to get started on the next series.
“I’m going to do racehorses like the ones in the Little Brown Jug,” she said. “The very first paintings for that are going to be on 16-by-20 canvas.”
While in high school, Rhoades had sculpted a ruby red shoe, in her size, that will be on display June 20, but not for sale.
“It’s priceless to me,” she said.
While walking around at the Delaware Arts Festival in May, Richard Upton, owner of J. Gumbo’s, saw some of Rhoades’ work. Amazed at her creative style, he struck up a conversation with her about putting together a gallery at the restaurant.
Upton said that he and Creative Foundations have collaborated on several galley projects in the past.
“We did one with a young lady about three years ago that was really successful,” he said. “It helps me, because I don’t have to go out and buy art.”
Upton admits to purchasing pieces of art himself to hang in his restaurant, but later selling it to someone else at a “profit.”
“I’ll leave a gallery up until it gets sold out,” he said.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.