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Going with the Grain – An Art Exhibition by Rose Marr

A year ago, The New Tri-State Defender introduced readers to Rose Marr (now Rose Marr Scott, after marrying fellow artist Carl Scott), who was on a mission to share the work of her mother (Mary “Mayfair” Matthews) with the world.

And now…it’s HER turn.

Marr happened upon a new medium, crayon on wood, which is distinct and is taking the city by storm.

More than 20 of these original works are displayed at Hattiloo Theatre in Overton Square in a pop-up art gallery. The exhibit continues until April 6.

Rose Marr’s “A Time to Ponder” 16×16 crayon on wood panel. (Courtesy photo)

Marr didn’t always dream of being an artist.

“I knew I had artistic abilities, and was a great art teacher, but I never considered myself an artist,” Marr said.

But things started to change as more exposure shined light on her inherent artistic prowess.

“People saw some of my work and said, ‘Why aren’t you promoting your own art?’ and that, coupled with me starting to believe in myself, started the tidal wave,” said Marr.

Marr’s husband, Carl Scott, was also instrumental in introducing her to Memphis’ art community.

“It was like it was meant to be. Once I found my passion, that’s when things really changed for me. It was a mindset change,” said Marr.

Marr’s style evolved over the years. Prior to using this new medium of crayon on wood, she drew figures with pencil and dabbled with charcoal.

However, when the Memphis Botanic Gardens invited her to participate in Icognito, an art fundraiser, where the artist’s name is concealed until after the event, a new creative spark ignited.

They provided artists with a 10-by-10-inch canvas or wood panel board. I don’t paint so I said let me try the wood panel board.

“When I got the board, I thought ‘Let me try a black crayon.’ I found an image of a little African-American boy and cropped his face to fit in the square.”

And just like that, a new medium for Marr was born.

“The feedback I received was incredible. When I went to Botanic Gardens to see the piece hung, I felt like my piece really stood out. Of the 100 pieces, 21 were sold for the full price – mine was in that number. In fact, the man who bought it contacted me and said he wanted more!”

In Marr’s early works, she drew celebrities, and thought to try the new medium with a local celebrity, Ekundayo Bandele, founder and CEO of Hattiloo Theatre.

“Ek has this striking face with the locs (before he cut them) and I have locs, so I went on Facebook and found a picture of him.”

Ekundayo Bandele, founder & CEO of Hattiloo Theatre, with Rose Marr’s crayon on wood portrait of him. (Courtesy photo)

Marr shared the picture with Bandele and let the universe handle the rest.

“Ekundayo is such a visionary. When I shared his portrait, among others, with him in February, next thing I know, he’s pulling out his calendar, talking about a pop-up gallery, opening reception and more!”

Marr is the first artist to exhibit in the pop-up art Hattiloo’s gallery.

“I’m still like “Wow, people want to see my work? People want to show my work?’”

Marr said she has found that passion, which was missing before; a passion that is fueled by the mere opportunity to do and share her work. A passion that her mother, Mayfair, had.

“I would look at her and wonder how she could get up every day, grab a cup of coffee, and just start painting. I get it now. And her spirit is channeled through me now and I’m just going for it!”

This art exhibition is the third for Marr.

“This show is different. Ek is doing amazing things for our community and as I learned more about him and Hattiloo, I just respect the work they’re doing. And being associated with them makes me feel legit, supported, worthy and valued.”

What’s next?

Sennett Holcomb, special events and exhibits manager for Memphis Botanic Gardens, with Rose Marr’s first ever crayon on wood piece at Incognito. (Courtesy photo)

Following this exhibition, Marr will head to the birthplace of her new medium – The Memphis Botanic Gardens. She will show these works in Fratelli’s, the onsite restaurant, in June.

 

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