Clayton Campbell wants people who view his art to walk away feeling inspired.
Creating art, he said, is a privilege, and something everyone has inside them.
“If you leave here with something you didn’t have before, some exchange is happening,” Campbell said. “I feel like it’s inert without a viewer. It’s not living if no eyes ever see it.”
On Saturday, Feb. 5, the Champlain Wine Company in Plattsburgh hosted an opening reception for Campbell.
The opening was the second installment of a new off-site gallery program sponsored by ROTA Gallery in Plattsburgh in an effort to connect local businesses to local artists.
Campbell’s work includes nine prints and four nature-inspired photos.
Eight of the prints are monotypes and the other is linocut.
A monotype is created by putting a flat of ink on a piece of plexiglass. A shape is placed on the ink, so when it is run through a press everything but the shape is printed on the paper.
The ink must be given time to dry between each run to prevent different colors from blending.
Since the colors and shapes are put through the press one at a time, each monotype print is unique.
A linotype print is more like a stamp, and the image produced can be duplicated many times.
“It’s a time consuming process,” Campbell said. “In printmaking, there are all these different steps that coalesce to make the print. You’re working with the paint, you’re mixing the color, and later you’re cutting out stencils or preparing the paper.”
Campbell moved to Plattsburgh from Mississippi in September 2011 to participate in a student exchange program while attending Mississippi University.
He is currently finishing up a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree at Plattsburgh, and plans to continue making art after he graduates.
“This is absolutely what I want to be doing,” Campbell said. “I came into that notion about six months ago. This is what I am into, this is what I want to share with others.”
Some of the work Campbells has on display at the Champlain Wine Company represents his first ventures into the medium, when he was experimenting with ink and getting to know the printmaking process.
As his skill progresses, Campbell hopes his prints will become something that engages people to look deeper.
But he doesn’t think he’s quite there yet.
“I want to figure out how to make the viewer involved,” Campbell said. “I want them to be actively involved in it, and I haven’t figured that out yet.”
But in some ways, Campbell has succeeded.
One of his prints, “Sequence,” consists of three blue teardrops imprinted on three lightly colored shapes that resemble feathers, or grasses, or moth antennae.
On each teardrop, there is the vague, black outline of a figure.
Viewing the piece raises questions as to its meaning, which Campbell described as a meditation on his friendship with three different people.
Natalie Peck, who owns the Champlain Wine Company with her husband, Colin Read, said she welcomed the idea of displaying art at their shop.
“Some day I’d like to see local art in all the public spaces downtown,” Peck said.
The Champlain Wine Company opened in October 2011, and has hosted one other art opening.
Peck and Read sell about 25 New York State wines at the Wine Company, including wines from local wineries Amazing Grace Vineyards and Vesco Ridge Vineyards.
They also sell their own wine, which covers a wide range of reds and whites, all produced from grapes grown on their Mooers farm.
Peck said the showings have helped draw people into her business, and also offer a venue for the artists to sell their work.
There is no commission on art sales, so all of the money goes directly to the artist.
“It benefits the artists and it benefits the business,” Campbell said. “Everyone’s success is our success.”
Peck said there is no definite end-date for the exhibition, but that it will probably run until early March, at which time she hopes to get another artist in.
Artists interested in participating in ROTA’s off-site gallery program can email samples of their work to gallery coordinator Kaitlyn Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donovan said she isn’t looking for any more off-site locations until she finds more artists to fill wall space, but encouraged interested businesses to email her as well.
The Champlain Wine Company is located at 8 City Hall Place in Plattsburgh and is open Wednesday-Sunday, noon-8 p.m.