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  • Let’s talk about the Rural Art Show.

    I'm putting on an art event in my hometown of Branson, CO running from August 13th-27th, 2022. Branson is a rural agricultural community fifty miles from resources and easy access to art. The mission of this event is to share the work of rural artists and introduce the creative community I’ve been lucky enough to grow around in Atlanta. For the first event, I'm focusing on COMMUNITY, as I introduce all the fantastic creative forces I know to each other through their art. Alongside this show will be a student print pinup show for budding artists to show their work and find inspiration from experienced artists. As a young creative, I was encouraged by artists and makers in the area and I would like to help foster that network. A little bit about myself and why I decided to host an art show in Branson. I was raised on the JL Cattle Company ranch and first took photography through the local 4-H chapter. Growing up in a rural area helped me understand the importance of relationships and how each individual’s strengths are integral to the success of the greater community. Spending the last seventeen years in Atlanta has given me easy access to art and a diverse creative community to inspire and teach me. I want to continue to grow and support my creative community while giving back to my rural roots. Below is more info on the show and how to enter. Follow along on IG @ruralartshow as the event comes together! Important Dates for the 2022 Rural Art Show “Community” exhibit · June 6: Art Submission deadline Extended! · July 1: Notification of acceptance · August 6 & 10: Deliver work to Garage - local artists · Aug 13-Aug 27: Exhibit on display · Aug 13: Opening Reception · Aug 27: Closing Reception · Aug 27-28: Artists can pick up work Eligibility · Open to artists of all career levels from emerging to professional, 18 years of age or older · Submit up to two entries, no entry fee. · Max Size: no one side larger than 50” · Any media including painting, works on paper, printmaking, photography, sculpture (excluding installation art) · Works accepted both display ready for hanging & prints for our extended community print pin-up display · By entering the exhibit, artists whose works are selected for the show grant the Rural Art Show the right to use submitted images on printed materials, website & social media sites for promotional purposes. · Artwork accepted for the exhibit does not have to be for sale. Rural Art Show will receive a 10% commission for each work sold from the exhibit. Payment for works sold during the show will be issued within 30 days of the end of the exhibit. · Artist responsible for art delivery and pickup Link for Entry - Emerging & Professional artists Rural Art Show: Community Branson Community Center & Garage 400 Main St. Branson, CO 81027 Opening reception: Aug. 13th 2022 3 pm - 6 pm Closing reception: Aug. 27th, 2022 After the Branson Reunion 5 pm - 7 pm Viewings also available by appointment, 770-906-5066. Student print pinup show flyers below, available for download. Student artists are welcome to collect artwork at the closing event or artwork will be returned to their school (School drop only available to Branson, Des Moines, & Kim schools).

  • Odd Couple: Rita & George

    The first time I saw Rita was in the communion line. She is a striking woman with soulful blue eyes, a kind smile, and of course, there are her tattoos. Even though she caught my eye what really fascinated me was that the man holding her hand, her husband George, had no tattoos. I do love a good contrast! I thought they were perfect for my Odd Couple project and after months of seeing them, I finally asked a friend for an introduction. Rita & George © Kaylinn Gilstrap Rita was 52 when she got her first tattoo and now at 67, she has spent around 100 hours in the chair. She has geishas, a skull on a roller skate for her roller derby daughter, DeathSkull, a portrait of her dad, dragons, flowers..... George just shrugs whenever someone points out the contrast. He loves the woman and all the artwork that goes along with her. But I was literally only getting to the surface of the story and these two people. I have been told, if you’re living, you are a survivor. It's not a question of if we're survivors, it's a question of what we've survived. So when Rita started opening up to me as we sat on her front porch I should have been prepared but I wasn’t. Rita and George have weathered some major storms. In 2004 their son (stepson to George), Chris (Christopher Paul Caldwell) disappeared off a cruise ship. In 2008, George was diagnosed with stage four tonsil cancer which was a fight for life and marriage. In 2010, they lost their daughter (step-daughter to George), Stephany to a drug overdose. There is no preparing for any of these events let alone a series of them. Rita's tattoo is in honor of her son, Chris. Shortly after getting the tattoo, her husband George was diagnosed with stage four tonsil cancer. © Kaylinn Gilstrap Rita is completely transparent about her grief and also how she survived it. She describes in vivid detail driving down the Oklahoma turnpike when she received the call about Stephany and hearing in the background the emergency crew trying to bring her back. Rita remembers almost a year after Chris disappeared telling her doctor if she didn't help her, she wouldn't be around the following month. She also recalls George's intense fight against cancer with thirty-seven rounds of radiation and two rounds of chemo but is so grateful that he's had seven years now cancer-free. Rita doesn't deny or hide the dark, low places grief and trials can take us, and acknowledging them lets in some light. Rita & George will celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in April. © Kaylinn Gilstrap She still misses Chris and Stephany. That never goes away. She just does her best to memorialize them by releasing a balloon with a note every birthday and keeping them present in her home. Besides that Rita embraces every day she has with George, her other two kids, twelve grandkids, and two great-grandkids because she knows there is no guaranteed amount of time for any of us. Rita and George just keep moving forward; scars, tattoos and all. "If you banish the dragons, you banish the Heroes" Andrew Solomon Rita and George met on the dance floor. They still spin each other around whenever they can. © Kaylinn Gilstrap Odd Couples is a study on how opposites attract and how social views are not the deciding factor in connection.

  • Odd Couple: Alice & Jody

    A while back I was asked to speak to the ATL Photo Nite community about my work. For me being asked to speak in front of a crowd is stress-inducing, I often joke that I’m better one on one. However, it is such a great opportunity. Not only can I introduce myself to people that don’t me or my work but it gives me a space to practice vulnerability. I’m still learning how to do this but it’s work with doing. One of the projects I spoke of that night was “Odd Couples”. Odd Couples is a study on how opposites attract and how social views are not the deciding factor in connection. At the end of the evening, someone asked me what I learned about love through this project. I wish I had dug deep but I said something self-deprecating and funny. I’d like to try again here. I learned that we all are looking for a sense of belonging and acceptance. That what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. That love is and always will be a bit of a mystery. It’s what makes the pursuit of it (and the projects studying it) so wonderfully intriguing. And the ultimate truth that loves is something that you have to maintain and nurture, even when you’re lucky enough to find it. Here’s the story behind how I met one of the couples featured in the project Photo: Alice & Jody © Kaylinn Gilstrap The first time I met Alice and Jody was at a storytelling event in Atlanta. A girlfriend and I had both recently went through a breakup and we were helping keep each other's spirits up. We spotted a couple of empty seats at a table where two other women were sitting so we quickly headed over. We exchanged names and then Jody asked "How are you doing?". Having had a good day and feeling upbeat I responded "Great!". Everyone then turned to my companion. She was not in high spirits and was giving Eeyore a run for his money. She sighed deeply and said "Fine". Alice and Jody, noticing the gloom, started asking her what had her so down. I jumped in not wanting to start the evening outgoing further down that road with, "It's a man. Isn't it always a man!?". I still remember the edges of their lips slowly creeping up into a smile and Jody's chuckle, as Alice simply said "Not for us.". We still laugh about our first meeting and my bull in the china shop introduction. We all have an idea of how love should look. There I was that winter evening right in front of it and for a brief moment, I didn't recognize it. When we have set expectations or don't allow time to truly see others we're at risk of missing out on meaningful interactions and experiences. Luckily, Alice and Jody have kept me around (probably for comic relief) and I have witnessed time and again their love for each other and those around them. I was an honored guest at their wedding and years later they were able to keep my spirits up when I could say again "It's a man. Isn't it always a man!?". #lovewins I photographed Alice & Jody for my Odd Couples project. Alice identifies as a beatnik and Jody is an Episcopalian priest.

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