Everybody knows how horrible Black Friday is. The unbridled consumerism and mischievous corporate gain for the sake of big sales can bring out the worst in humanity.
On the following day, it’s a time to check out what’s available on a local level. It’s known as Small Business Saturday, and the second annual Holiday Bazaar happening at Buttonwoods Brewery, located at 530 Wellington Ave. in Cranston, on Nov. 30 offers a prime opportunity to participate.
While enjoying delicious craft beers, people can check out local vendors and artists, each having their own unique flair. One of those artists that’ll be setting up and selling their work is East Providence native Crandon Whitsitt-Lynch, who specializes in intricate prints and the coolest metal bottle openers you’ll ever see.
Ahead of the bazaar, Whitsitt-Lynch and I had a talk about what inspired him to get into the craft, working at his alma mater and what people can expect from his talents.
ROB DUGUAY: What made you want to get into visual art?
CRANDON WHITSITT-LYNCH: I was surrounded by a diverse range of art growing up. My mother was a sculptor specializing in wood and stone carving, while also working at the Rhode Island School of Design. Additionally, my grandfather was an avid watercolor painter and as a result I was exposed to a wide variety of different mediums and various conceptual approaches. That exposure led to an inevitable interest in visual art.
RD: Are there any specific influences when it comes to the detail and intricacies that go into your work?
CWL: For the most part I would say that the level of intricate details that can be observed in my work is a reflection of my obsessive compulsive nature as an individual. However, I certainly was influenced by a number of artists over the years, some of which I perceived having seemingly similar approaches to their work as it relates to obsessive compulsive tendencies. One of the earliest that I can remember is the tessellation work done by M.C. Escher. I was always fascinated by the mathematical exactness that was executed in the different series of his work that explored that specific approach.
I would say that by biggest artistic influence is that of Albrecht Durer, who is widely considered as one of if not the most gifted engravers of all time. I was thoroughly mesmerized by the jaw-dropping level of detail, in addition to his absolutely masterful level of control that he exhibited in the medium of printmaking. What I found most fascinating was that he was not initially by any measure the most naturally gifted artist. However, through years of rigorous training, he honed his skills to the highest of levels, which always resonated with me.
RD: With your work consisting of physical objects, such as bottle openers, drawings and paintings, do you have a preference between the two?
CWL: I have an equal appreciation for both two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. I began making the bottle openers in order to make my artwork more accessible due to the functionality, while still allowing myself the same degree of creative freedom that I possess in my printmaking work and non-functional sculptures. In truth, I thoroughly love creating artwork of any type. I suppose any preference I have of one medium or approach over another would simply be dependent on my mood or thought process on any given day.
RD: You also work at Rhode Island College, where you graduated from, at the Alex and Ani Hall as a shop and laboratory technician. Does it ever feel strange to you when it comes to handling someone else’s work? Do you immediately start to think about how their piece could be better or do you just let it be an assist the student?
CWL: It certainly feels strange to be in the position I am in on a number of levels. Going from being a student to an employee that is now surrounded by many of the same individuals that I looked up to when I was an undergraduate, who are now my peers, is an interesting and humbling position to be in. I continue to look up to many of them as mentors and I feel very lucky to be in this environment that I am surrounded by so many gifted individuals.
As far as assessing current student work, it does not cross my mind that often. They are in great hands as far as the tutelage that they receive within the department from the faculty.
I will give my input when it is asked for, or in passing. However, it is not within the bounds of what my position asks me to do. If on occasion I can provide an occasional useful technical opinion then I will most certainly provide it. I often feel it is best to limit it to just that, as to not unintentionally contradict the feedback that they as students are receiving from their professors. I am employed there as a technical asset to the department, rather than as a conceptual resource.
RD: What can people expect you to be selling at Buttonwoods Brewery’s Holiday Bazaar?
CWL: I plan on bringing a variety of my different styles of bottle openers. They range from small to medium sized keychain openers, along with larger barkeep style flatcars and heavy-duty barkeep and home-use openers. Additionally, I plan on bringing samples of certain relief prints I have recently done, in addition to smaller intaglio prints. Specified digital reproductions of intaglio prints will also be available.
To learn more about Crandon Whitsitt-Lynch and his work, visit cwlartistry.com. For more about Buttonwoods Brewery and its Holiday Bazaar, visit buttonwoodsbrewery.com or check out the event’s Facebook page, “2nd Annual Holiday Bazaar at Buttonwoods Brewery.”