Even though the 4th of July sparks have faded, there are still a few firecrackers left. Sullivan Anlyan, Suzi Drake and Cheryl Kent all are artists in their own right—a painter, a drawer and a builder. When together, they’re a dazzling triple threat. Partnering up with Annex Surf Supply in Wrightsville Beach—a host for art shows since opening in 2013—the multi-faceted troupe is ready for their first group display.
“The show transpired very organically,” Kent says. “We all have been friends for a while, and when given the chance to do a show together, well, it was a no-brainer.”
Kent is new to the art circuit, but no one would ever know it. She’s only been drawing for three years and already has an adept hand. It serves as a testament to her work as a hairstylist at Ward Hair Design for the last 20 years. After losing her mother to an unsuccessful lung transplant, she formed a unique respect for nature—trees in particular. They are the driving force behind her current series, which she’ll be showing at Annex.
“I noticed how [trees] look like lungs and how ironic [it is] that they allow us to breathe,” she explains. “The bark on trees allows protection. It also holds oxygen. I connected to this and then started drawing it.”
Kent’s art portrays finding light in darkness. In fact, all her drawings start with a dark charcoal layer that’s rubbed off with electric erasers and brushes. It essentially creates a drawing by exposing the light underneath. Pen-and-ink and pastels are applied, too. It’s a tedious layering process and takes anywhere from 20 to 40 hours, depending on the size.
Last year Kent won first place in the drawing category at the Cape Fear Community College art show. It was a huge success as one of the jurors was Beth Handler Riebe, former curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Likewise, Suzi Drake is inspired by flea markets, motorcycles, summer camp, and the Southwest. When she’s not managing projects at Graphic Moxie, she can be found keeping bees, collecting fantastic trinkets, and building vintage motorbikes. She’s the first to admit she’s not short on hobbies. All of her seemingly unrelated and sometimes pretty useless talents provided training to run her Etsy store, Whistlepig Workshop, which launched last year. Through Whistlepig she delivers one-of-a-kind necklaces and earrings, uniquely crafted from deconstructed vintage jewelry. She commingles each piece with old coins, scrap leather, vintage turquoise, tiny compasses, 1930’s military sports medals, keys from old Ford trucks, and conchos from a belt her older sister wore in college. Despite comprising so many elements, her jewlery is never junky.
“My aesthetic is eclectic but clean,” she explains. “I pay a lot of attention to shape, weight and balance. I don’t just throw a bunch of cool crap on a chain and call it a day.”
Drake spends most nights in her home-office-turned-workshop watching episodes of “Star Trek” and “Magnum PI” as she sorts and pairs vintage chains. She mixes texture, weight and metals. Like Kent, she’s new to the art game, but her first “out there” moment was at the 2014 Wilmington Fashion Weekend trunk show. Even though the Triple Threat show won’t be her official pony ride, she’s grateful for the opportunity to work with Annex.
“It’s a great space,” Drake says. “It seems like they recognize there is oodles of local talent that they not only want to support but promote.”
Rounding out the trio, Sullivan Anlyan is probably the most seasoned artist in the bunch. An indelible fixture in Wilmington’s art scene, her gilded-leaf menagerie prints have been featured in local galleries, restaurants and stores. Ninety-nine percent of Anlyan’s work comes nature-inspired with a personal focus on two favorite models: her pet rabbits, Kevin and Francis.
Last Thanksgiving women’s clothing mecca, Anthropologie, special-ordered her gold-foil bird and bunny prints to sell exclusively on their website. Now on her fifth re-order for Anthropologie, Anlyan spends a lot of time on commissions.
“I’m super grateful to have this much work as an artist,” she comments.“It’s a nice problem to have, and I have some things in my brain I want to try.”
Seeking a little refuge from her busy schedule and inspired by the upcoming show, Anlyan delves back into her personal space as she creates brand new block and linocut prints to sell at Annex. They’re all embellished with her signature Midas gold-leaf touch. Some feature her star subjects, too.
Most of all, Anlyan excites in sharing the experience with two of her closest and most talented friends. The trio isn’t afraid to threaten folks with a good time. “I like a big party,” she says. “It’s like, ‘the more the merrier.’ So let’s get as many people there as we can.”
Triple Threat Art Show
Collected works for sale by Sullivan Anlyan, Suzi Drake and Cheryl Kent
Thursday, July 17th, 5 p.m.
Annex Surf Supply, 534 Causeway Dr.