“I understand what people who create movie franchises deal with,” he says. “You have to satisfy people that already know the first movie and then you have to explain the narrative to new fans.”
The Decatur, Ga., by way of Fayetteville, N.C., artist has set the stage for the third installment of one of Atlanta’s most interesting creative events, the art battle. Williams, who's done paintings for corporations such as Verizon Wireless and entertainers including Big Boi, started the spirited exhibition as a way to get people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to a gallery opening, to explore fine art. Consider it putting the paint where it ain’t, so to speak.
The events have audacious names such as “Hell Up in Hotlanta” and “Paint, Sketch or Draw…Blood!” The participating artists, appear “dressed in their own personalities” to “talk trash, paint and talk trash again,” according to a promotional video designed to explain the concept. There are no real winners or losers, only crowd favorites, chosen by applause. Everyone involved has the option to join an organization called WWAF, or World Wide Arts Federation, an obvious nod to the World Wrestling Federation, WWF.
Williams’ influences reflect his coming of age as an ’80s baby: pro-wrestling pageantry, hip-hop culture and music mixed in with hip street aesthetic. Regardless of goings on at the event, the art takes center stage. The bold energy brings them in, but the artistry keeps them talking. While most people associate hip-hop art with graffiti, Williams is more Caravaggio than Wild Style.
Saturday’s event is called “Composition of Chaos.” It has the in-your-face elements of the first two shows, with a new twist. Taking cues from the Saw film series, the eight participants have been “captured” by a shadowy, red-masked figure named Exacto and forced to compete as proof that they value their respective creative talents — OR ELSE. “My creativity is my life force. For me not to push that to its full potential, I would be basically wasting my life. Creating the Exacto character has been an extension of myself,” Williams says with a laugh.
In the first two battles, he appeared as the Occasional Superstar, a suavely dressed, tobacco pipe smoking, fine art snob who asserts his sense of superiority with the stroke of a paintbrush and a loud mouth. The moniker came about in 2003 as he and brother, Adrian, a Marine then entering a tour of duty in Kuwait, ended their design business. Williams’ old business cards read, “CEO and occasional superstar.” The name stuck for his persona and new brand.
Fellow Atlanta-based artist, Fahamu Pecou, Williams’ friendly rival, “crashed” the first show holding a championship belt like those worn by wrestling champs. He enjoys being part of the ongoing chaos.
“I definitely think it’s a breath of fresh air in terms of art engagement. It circumvents the old establishment. It converts the general public into arts patrons,” he says.
To paraphrase Madonna, they mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel.
It’s performance art, but fine art coated in a youthful, contemporary perspective.
To preview new events and recap those past, Williams has produced several fun, quick, and colorful YouTube videos that appear on his channel and sites, www.thewwaf.org and Occasional Superstar. Unlike much of what is accessible online, the art battle is best experienced live and direct.
Composition of Chaos $20. Sat., Nov. 20, 8 p.m.-midnight. Stuart McClean Gallery, 684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. thewwaf.com
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