Kimberly Dawn Clayton show chronicles the artist’s soul-searching adventures in Brazil


 Artist Kimberly Dawn Clayton, Favela Rising, acrylic 36 x 52

Sunset River Marketplace art gallery in Calabash, N.C. will feature works by acrylic and mixed media artist Kimberly Dawn Clayton from June 10 through July 4. Opening reception for the exhibition is Thursday, June 11 from 5 – 7 p.m.

What began as a way to bond with her teenage boys in the backyard has turned into a life-changing adventure for the Tennessee native and current resident of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Practicing yoga poses while balancing ten inches off the ground on a two-inch webbing (a form of slacklining), she soon started to paint her own and other slackline experiences. After posting one of her pieces on social media, she connected with a couple of Brazil’s nationally known athletes who slackline high above gorges, waterways and even cities. Two months later she embarked on a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to paint, slackline, meditate and more. This exhibition, titled Finding My Balance In Brazil is a visual journal of her adventure and her evolution as a folk artist, free spirit, mother, mad scientist, gymnast, Bohemian traveler, storyteller and most recently, a slackliner.

The exhibition includes acrylic paintings, watercolor sketches, folk art inspired by life in the favelas, as the slums of Rio are called, and artifacts from her adventure. “This trip has changed my life … as an artist, a mother, a human being. Rio is rough, but there’s so much beauty. I’ve learned that safety is a state of mind. I found out that I had been off balance.”

Asked about the great influences in her life, Clayton’s answer is quick: “I’ve always been inspired by the Tramp Diaries of Mark Twain, where he really threw himself into every experience with all its ugliness as well as its beauty. I can relate to that. I get that now. That’s why with Rio and its favelas, I’ve experienced its danger and sadness but I’ve also been immersed in its beauty and joy.”

On a personal level, Clayton cites the influence of her grandfather, a furniture designer who gave the artist her first paint set. She was fortunate enough to meet Georgia folk artist Howard Finster at a young age and participated in her first folk art show at Finster’s Paradise Gardens.

Clayton is well known on the folk art circuit, exhibiting at Folk Fest in Atlanta, Ga.; Abby Road On the River in Louisville, Ky.; National Moofest in Athens, Tenn. and other outsider art festivals. She works in acrylic and oil and sometimes uses rattle cans. Often the prolific artist creates sculptures out of cast-off materials and incorporates items such as bottle caps, broken mirror pieces and compact discs into her pieces. Her painting “canvases” include everything from discarded lumber and windows to guitars, drums and buildings.

Ginny Lassiter, owner of Sunset River Marketplace, says, “Kim is a dynamic, high-energy artist … a storyteller of the highest quality. I am so excited to see this show. (No, I haven’t seen it yet because Kim is still painting! She went to Brazil in May and has been painting around the clock since she got back last week!)”

Lassiter goes on to say that she hopes art lovers, collectors and community members can attend the reception because “This is going to be and experience, one of our liveliest receptions yet.”

About Sunset River Marketplace
Since opening in 2002, Sunset River Marketplace has been an active supporter of performing, literary and visual arts in the area. The 10,000 square-foot gallery features work by over 200 North and South Carolina artists. Its on-site pottery studio has two kilns and three wheels for use by students. Ongoing oil, pastel and watercolor classes are also provided, in addition to workshops by nationally known artists. The gallery’s complimentary Coffee With the Authors programs feature presentations by local and regional authors. A Paint & Party series provides a fun after-work experience for those with no previous art background. The gallery’s framing department offers full-service, on-site custom frame design for artwork, family heirlooms and other memorabilia.

Sunset River Marketplace is located at 10283 Beach Drive (Hwy. 179) in the historic fishing village of Calabash, N.C. just north of the S.C. state line. Winter hours (January through March) are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information about the exhibition, art classes, onsite framing or any other gallery events, call 910-575-5999 or visit the website: www.sunsetrivermarketplace.com. The gallery’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sunsetrivermarketplace) also lists special events, new artists and other happenings.

(Image two: Artist Kimberly Dawn Clayton, The Shaking Isn’t the Rope, It’s You, acrylic 24 x 24)