Billboards are starting to look like art galleries in and around Winston-Salem.
Art For Art’s Sake launched work by two of its artists into public view this week. AFAS has an arts complex that includes, Red Dog Gallery, studios and meeting spaces, and ARTivity on the Green, the park on the corner of Seventh and Liberty streets.
The first AFAS artworks on view are by two images by Cheryl Ann Lipstreu and four by Stewart Knight. They are rotating on a digital billboard at 3000 University Parkway, across from Joel Coliseum. Another billboard will be up and running in mid-August, at 1021 N. Cherry St., near Bojangles’, according to Sylvia Green, vice chair of AFAS.
The project arose out of a partnership between AFAS and Indigo River Outdoor, the billboard owners. Green worked for a time with Michael Lamphier, a co-owner of Indigo River, and he had long expressed appreciation and enthusiasm for the group’s work.
“We wanted to support Winston-Salem and thought how cool would it be to showcase local artists,” John Georgius Jr. and Lamphier, co-owners of Indigo River, said in a statement. “When we reached out to AFAS, they embraced the idea wholeheartedly.
“As soon as we posted Stewart’s and Cheryl Ann’s pieces, we couldn’t wait to see more. Their work is so colorful and makes a powerful impression. We hope our partnership with AFAS will connect Winston-Salem artists to a much broader audience.”
“Indigo River Outdoor have shared that they want to support AFAS and our local artists, ongoing,” Green said. “There is no set ‘end date.’ Our intent is to change the artists and images on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to include AFAS artists’ work that will be featured in Red Dog Gallery, as well as other AFAS artists’ work that may be showcased in ARTivity Park on the mural wall and other places around Winston-Salem.”
Lipstreu and Knight currently have a collaborative exhibition, “The Cost of ...” at AFAS’s Red Dog Gallery, 630 N. Liberty St. The images displayed on the billboard are from that show.
The two artists competed together in the 2015 Living Art America North American Championships — a body painting competition — and brought home first place.
Lipstreu does portraits, illustrations, murals and body painting and uses a variety of media, including acrylics, watercolor, oil and theatrical-grade, special effects makeup.
“I knew that they had done Stewart’s, but I didn’t know that they had done mine until people started calling me a couple of days ago, and I drove out there to see it,” Lipstreu said. “Oh, my God! To see my painting 55-feet across was amazing.
“Every artist who has a show at Red Dog Gallery will have their work on billboards. It’s such a gift to the artists and such a morale-booster. It’s a cool thing to do for the artists and for the gallery.”
Knight is the building manager, rental manager, and assistant park and gallery manager at AFAS. He runs the Saturday Art Jam (every first and third Saturday) and other children’s programs for AFAS.
He is also a multi-faceted artist who has done sculpture, portraits, memorials, murals, and paintings in acrylics and ink. He also paints and organizes the other muralists who do work in Bookmarks’ and Footnotes’ breezeway at 634 W. Fourth St.
“I like to work in as many natural materials as possible — feathers and stones,” he said. “I also write some poetry. The only thing I don’t do in public is play music and dance. I do that for myself.”
As for the billboard, Knight said, “It’s a blessing to have your work that large and to know how many people will see it. Hopefully, it will bring a lot of people to the arts district. It was a great blessing to be one of the first artists on the billboard and to have that coincide with our show. It is definitely an honor.”
A different group, ArtPop, works with the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and Lamar Outdoor Advertising to put work by artists from 12 area counties onto billboards. Five were selected in June, and their work is appearing throughout the coming year. This is the third local ArtPop collaboration since 2016.