Giving back inspires Solon Springs artistThe old and the new collide in a splash of color Saturday at the Solon Springs Village Hall.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The old and the new collide in a splash of color Saturday at the Solon Springs Village Hall.
The 1929 building is the site of an art show by local painter Jeredt Runions from 7-9 p.m. This is the first show in three years for the 24-year-old, who will display about 20 new paintings. In typical fashion, Runions will put three up for silent auction to benefit the community – one to fund renovation of the village hall and the other two for the elementary and high school art programs in Solon Springs.
“I hope Jeredt does well,” said Patty Cosgrove, who is involved in renovating the village hall. “He’s a real neat kid.”
Susan Chandler, Solon Springs principal, wasn’t surprised to hear that Runions would be giving his proceeds away.
“Jeredt has a very generous nature,” she said.
For the Solon Springs artist, who works at three part-time seasonal jobs, art is about getting his ideas out and creating, not getting rich.
“I never make money at this art thing, that is why there is a great saying – starving artist,” he said. “And the little money I do make goes to a better cause.”
He has donated portions of his art sales to area drug rehab centers, breast cancer research and to help a friend from Chile stay in college at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
“I give because somebody has to,” Runions said. “If we were all a little less selfish and gave a little here and helped a little there, it would be such a better place!”
The painter’s art is bright, bold and eye-catching. Splashes of color dot some, graffiti-like lines travel through others. Cartoon faces peer out from the unlikely spots, catching viewers by surprise.
“I think it reminds me of Jeredt – his free spirit and his open-minded attitude,” Chandler said of the works.
Runions’ new paintings reflect more peace and a greater focus on nature than previous works.
“I hope people look and laugh and smile at the cartoon figures and think about the paintings,” Runions said. “I also hope the local artists and people get inspiration just as I do with them.”
In the past 10 months, the Solon Springs man has created a series of works on the road with area bands such as Charlie Parr, Trampled by Turtles and Gypsy Lumberjacks. The unique performance art blends live music with onstage painting by Runions, with the work being given away at the end of the night.
“The people that attend these music shows are the same people that come to my art shows so it is great!” Runions said.
The 24-year-old is not your typical artist.
“I found out a long time ago that the art scene moves to the city,” he said. “Well, I moved to the country.”
Solon Springs is where the painter is rooted, connected to the land, water, sky and community he grew up in. Although he has traveled to 12 different countries and scoped out the West Coast art scene, Runions said, “this little town is my home.” No matter where he was, when he heard a noon whistle it took him right back to Solon Springs and the village hall.
“Only small towns have noon bells,” he said. Because he has so many memories of the building, he wanted to step up and help raise funds for its renovation, which began in May.
The art show will also be a chance for people to see the changes that have already been made at the village hall – new sidewalks and landscaping as well as a fresh coat of paint, inside and out. New windows are on the way. They should be installed in about six weeks, Cosgrove said.
Deciding to raise money for the Solon Springs art programs was just as easy for Runions.
“As a kid, my elementary art teacher here in Solon Springs had a big role in my thought of art,” he said. “Alongside my mother, she was one of the most inspiring people I could have had as a kid.” That teacher, Karen Johnson, died of breast cancer the year Runions moved away to Colfax, Wis. He grows his hair out and donates it to the Locks of Love program in her memory.
Soon, Runions may be inspiring students himself. He plans to return to UWS to get a degree in teaching art and biology.
“I would like a house some day and a steady paycheck and summers off,” he said.
But Solon Springs artist said he will continue his unique brand of performance art with area bands and keep filling canvas with bright acrylic paint.
“Live simply so others may simply live,” he said.