Local artist, Carl Medley, III was one of the artists selected from several dozen who applied back in the spring to be a part of this visual call-to-action to bring together public art, live music and pop up performances. Medley will be creating a mural with arts district visionary, Charles Rasputin. Medley, who is currently an art director at BCF, has a passion for pop culture.
AD: So looking at some of your art, I definitely feel there’s love for Warhol, Raucshenberg and that crowd. Where do you feel your love lies in art?
Carl Medley: They were the Pop Art ‘founding fathers’ so to speak, but I’ve really been influenced by current artists like Ron English and Frank Kozik as well. I don’t try to imitate them, but their work has humor and action. My work is always changing. I don’t want people to come with expectations about my art. I never want to be one thing.
What made or inspired you to move forward and apply for the NEON Festival project?
It forced me out of my comfort zone. I’ve never applied for a mural before. I think art-making is about pushing yourself either through process or inserting yourself into new scenarios. My wife also helped give me the final push that I needed to apply.
Am I allowed to ask what the finished product is going be on the wall entering the District which you’re creating with Charles Rasputin?
We are starting on it in a couple of days. I see it as much of welcome sign as a warning sign. It has a lot of color – it’s juxtaposition between beautiful and boldness.
As a regional artist whose design travels outside of the 757 via your work life, how do you see the importance of the NEON District achieving success locally and possibly globally for this region?
I think there are two different groups. Locally, the success is community-based. It’s the businesses in the District. It’s people making a difference. It’s pride of ownership. It’s organic. Norfolk residents making it happen and not waiting for the City create it. It’s confidence in what’s happening here. Regionally and beyond, the District is authentic; it’s selling itself. The word has spread about the growing public art scene here, the great restaurants and businesses — people want to come and see what’s happening.
After this installation mural, what direction do you see your art traveling, figuratively?
I would love to try to do another large scale work. Maybe some public art. Maybe create some affordable work that’s accessible for many. Not everyone can spend $300 on a piece of art.
Lastly, what is your definition of art?
I think I need to answer this with a question – Why do we continue to make art? It’s an uncomfortable conversation to have and to everyone the answer to that question will be vastly different. The second part to that thought is that art is the difference between choosing to and choosing not to. When people look at art and say, “I could do that.” Well, you didn’t. You chose not to. It’s not about can or can’t. I don’t do what I do because I am able to do it. It’s because I choose to.
It was evident that Carl Medley fully understood the magnitude of the NEON Art + Design District and the NEON Festival: Dawn of the NEON and what it means to artists, locals and those from outside the 757. Check out Carl’s and Charles Rasputin’s gateway art on Oct. 15 & 16. Swing by the District soon and you may catch their art in action.