When I first saw Kelly Clark, on Wednesday night, I thought: Allen Ginsburg. His horn-rimmed glasses and scraggly beard are what does it. It’s more than just appearances, though. Clark is sensitive, talented, and eager to share his gift for drawing and painting, and he’s eager for anyone, no matter what you’re background, to get something out of his art, even if you hate.
But no one hated it, it seemed. That comes partly from the setting. Clark hung his show at the Mill, a former redneck bar that’s turned, along with much of North Charleston, into a haven for urban hipsters. Clark’s elegantly rendered drawings and delicate abstracts (all done with his vice-like hands; I remember the power of his grip after introducing myself) populate the otherwise unremarkable walls of the Mill.
I’ve been to plenty of places like the Mill before: Chock full of people trying to forget for a while, not have an aesthetic experience. But this night was different. People were engaged by the art and feeling inspired to talk about it. But it wasn’t the kind of twaddle you hear from dilettantes, gallery scenesters, and critics for the weekly art newspaper. These were regular people who don’t think art is cool, but who nevertheless felt something and wanted to talk about it. And they wanted to talk about with Kelly; they wanted to make a connection.
And he did.