Orr Street Studios changes arts series to make it more interactive

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | 5:16 p.m. CST; updated 5:22 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — Chris Teeter and Mike Sleadd don't usually leap at an opportunity to discuss their art. However, a new direction for Orr Street Studios' twice-a-month series "Seeing Visions" has made these Columbia artists come out of their shells.

"I don't talk about my art," Sleadd said at the onset of his discussion Tuesday. Despite his reluctance, Sleadd discussed two of his ink drawings with about 20 attendees.

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What: "Seeing Visions," a new forum for artistic discussion

Where: Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr St.

When: 7 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of the month

Admission: Free

Previously, the "Seeing Visions" series was devoted to viewing films. Last month, it was reconstructed to compliment Orr Street Studios' literary series, "Hearing Voices." The series follow similar formats with artists presenting a piece of literature or art and talking with the audience about it.

Studio director Elaine Johnson said the series is about sharing ideas and ties in directly with Orr Street's mission. "It's a place that's about art, the creation of art and the sharing of art," Johnson said.

"Seeing Visions" provides a unique forum for Columbia artists to engage residents in artistic discussion in a relaxed setting.

Teeter, also featured Tuesday, said the series helps audiences to "get an idea for the person behind the artwork."

During the series, audience members actively participate in discussion.

"I think the audience that comes is as fascinating as the artists who present," Johnson said. "The audience shares the responsibility of the evening."

For Tuesday's discussion, Teeter contributed three steel sculptures inspired by reading, writing and arithmetic, and Sleadd featured two ink drawings, one of which was inspired by a previous piece of his.

Teeter, who is a former director of Orr Street Studio, still maintains a studio there. Teeter received a bachelor's degree in English literature from MU. Sleadd, who received a master's in fine arts from MU with emphasizes on graphic design and drawing, is chairman of the art department at Columbia College. 

Orr Street Studios has been a part of Columbia's art community since its founding in January 2007 and includes 27 studios leased by Columbia artists. Artists working at Orr Street engage in a variety of mediums; while traditional arts such as oil painting and steel sculpture are created at the studio, artists also embrace mediums such as installations, mixed-media and music.

"I think it helps enrich Columbia's artistic appreciation to have a place like this," Sleadd said.

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