Beyond the Brix spotlights local cartoonist artist with a twist
“Gone Too Soon,” an art collection on display at Beyond the Brix, is the latest exhibit on display at the restaurant and highlights the legacy of well-known figures in popular culture.
Located at 970, avenue Parsons, Beyond the Brix is a restaurant with an atmosphere steeped in comfort and inclusiveness, said Shawnta Hopkins-Greene, restaurant owner and Ohio State alumnus. Opening in November 2020, Beyond the Brix began showcasing different local artists for 90 days from January 2021.
Hopkins-Greene said the selected artists can exhibit and sell their art in a way that suits them, ensuring that a symbiotic relationship emerges.
“Most of the work and manipulation of the art is done by the artist,” she said. “We have the advantage of being surrounded by all this great art, and in all honesty, the artists are promoting my restaurant just by being there.”
The art of Evan Williams, a Columbus-based illustrator and graphic designer, is now on display at Beyond the Brix. A self-proclaimed “child in the military,” Williams said he lived in Europe for part of his childhood, allowing him to visit countries rich in art, inspiring his future career. Although Williams is traditionally trained, he says he enjoys fusing his training with elements of digital art.
“Now I’m more of a cartoon artist,” he said. “My current style is caricature without making fun of people. Rather, it is a caricature that will pay tribute and respect.
Williams said he has made a name for himself collaborating with many Columbus organizations, creating parts for Experience Columbus and building ongoing relationships with regional suppliers. After a mutual friend referred Williams to Hopkins-Greene, Beyond the Brix’s showcase was quickly approved, he said.
Hopkins-Greene said providing a sense of versatility by exhibiting work by various artists was of utmost importance to her.
“The color scheme, the art on the walls are all things that make me happy,” she said. “I spend so much time in restaurants so this is my home away from home. And the art fits perfectly into that.
Williams’ “Gone Too Soon” is about the legacy left by artists who left too soon. Williams has stated that one of his prints, “Happy Hour,” shares compositional similarities with Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s famous “Dogs Playing Poker”. Instead of dogs, however, Williams’ version features Michael Jackson, James Brown, Prince, Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye, he said.
The piece, among other things, speaks to one of the central themes of the collection, which is the idea that even if a given artist was only alive for a short time, people feel like they know them in depth. Williams said.
“A lot of people get so attached to celebrities and they feel like they know them,” he said. “I want the audience to hear his music.
Even after nearly two years, the pandemic continues to pose challenges for small businesses and creators. Williams said being quarantined changed the way he created and marketed his art from his personal studio, EWill Studios.
“The 40s forced everyone into this creative incubator,” Williams said. “We’re still coming out of it, but I believe on the other side, when it’s all over, you’re going to see some really good art coming out of it.”
Hopkins-Greene said sustaining his business was difficult, but not impossible. Between the understaffing and the reduction in foot traffic, the Beyond the Brix staff demonstrated immense innovation and the support from the community was evident, Hopkins-Greene said.
“I can’t complain because the community has come together around me and made sure my business stays open,” she said. “So I’m so grateful. “