P U W O GL SEPT. 9-15, 2021 TRIAD-CITY-BEAT.COM
lth, a e h l a t n e m s e l k c a t ie m o T t is t r a t in o P h ig H ow h s w e n in e s u b a e c n a subst GE 12 BY SAYAKA MATSUOKA | PA
schools face the heat PAGE 6
what happened at mt. tabor hs? PAGE10
the harris teeter lady PAGE 8
SEPT. 9-15, 2021
What readers want
spent the better part of two days figuring out how we could do home delivery of Triad City Beat — a neat piece of loby Brian Clarey gistics that would involve extra copies in the print run, a tech stack to process addresses and payments, a recurring weekly postage expense and a few other picayune details. Do-able, yes, but a major pain in the ass that would not bring a profit until a few hundred people had signed up for it. During a pandemic, I figured, that should be easy. Then I sent out a reader survey, the results of which showed unequivocally that almost no one was interested in home delivery. As of right now, I’ve got three people who say they are interested, which means that maybe one of them would do it. Another thing that astonished me: I had put aside some money for some swag — you know, T-shirts, hats, keychains, bumper stickers and such. The survey revealed that about 80 percent of our readers don’t give a single shit about any of that. They just want the news, as we deliver it.
If you feel differently, let us know at surveymonkey.com/r/KR5VBHT. The point is: What the hell do I know? Ten years ago, had you asked me what readers want, I would have had all the answers. Hell, had you asked me two weeks ago I would have been more than happy to answer the question, resplendent each time in my own hard-won ignorance. I’m not talking about the news. Everybody loves the news, whether they know it or not. And most of us understand that we are experiencing a period in history where timely, accurate information can literally mean the difference between life and death — or, at least, can keep you from contracting ivermectin-induced diarrhea. I’m talking about the other stuff: What readers expect from us, what they want from us, where we’re succeeding for them and where we’re letting them down. Filter out the noise, and we can see a few glimmers of the truth. We’ll be pursuing some of the notions expressed in our survey over the coming months. And we’ll continue to look for ways to be responsive to our readers. I’ve stopped puzzling over home delivery — though if you’re interested, drop me a line. And let me know if you want a T-shirt. I think I’m going to get some made anyway.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
We are paying the piper for the decisions we made 10 years ago. — Winston McGregor, Guilford County school board member pg.6 1451 S. Elm-Eugene St. Box 24, Greensboro, NC 27406 Office: 336.256.9320 BUSINESS PUBLISHER/EXECUTIVE EDITOR
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COVER Cover shot of Tomie by Sayaka Matsuoka
(As of Wednesday, Sept. 8)
SEPT. 9-15, 2021
Coronavirus in the Triad: Documented COVID-19 diagnoses NC 1,267,333 (+46,431) Forsyth 44,743 (+1,447) Guilford County
COVID-19 deaths NC
Documented recoveries NC
Current cases NC
Hospitalizations (right now) NC
Vaccinations NC First Dose
5,314,240 (55%, +87,304)
Forsyth First Dose
196,395 (51%, +2,944)
Guilford First dose
284,483 (53%, +3,979)
UP FRONT | SEPT. 9-15, 2021
CITY LIFE SEPT. 9-14 by Michaela Ratliff
THURSDAY Sept. 9
Making the Connection: Exploring the Intersectionality of Social Justice and Addiction Care @ Wake Forest School of Medicine (W-S) 8 a.m.
FRIDAY Sept. 10
Black Luxe Expo Vendor Event @ High Point Theatre (HP) 2 p.m. Don’t miss the chance to shop with your favorite local Black-owned businesses during this vendor expo, enhanced by food trucks and a DJ.
SATURDAY Sept. 11
Exalt & Illuminate: Shining A Light on Mental Health @ Gallery on Main (HP) 7 p.m.
Fiesta 2021 Concert Under the Stars @ the Drive at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds (W-S) 5 p.m.
Until Sept. 11, participate in multiple virtual conversations with guest speakers as part of Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Addiction Research and Clinical Health Symposium. They’ll discuss care, health disparities and addiction treatment and care in the medical community. To view more information and register, visit school.wakehealth.edu.
Instead of their usual indoor fiesta, the Hispanic League Board of Directors is hosting an outdoor drive-in concert with a lineup that includes Mariachi Los Galleros, Takiri Folklor Latino, West End Mambo and more. Find more information on the event page on Facebook. Decorating Time Record Release Party @ Legitimate Business (GSO) 8 p.m.
In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, Tomi (last name) invites you to view her art exhibit dedicated to celebrities, musicians and cultural icons who struggled with mental health. Parental discretion advised for triggering content. Visit the event page on Facebook for more information. North Carolina Comedy Festival @ Marketplace Cinemas (W-S) 7:30 p.m. The North Carolina Comedy Festival is hosting stand-up shows at multiple locations in the area, including Brewer’s Kettle High Point, the Idiot Box and Comic Dimension. For more opportunities to laugh and purchase tickets at nccomedyfestival.com.
SUNDAY Sept. 12
Strike Up the Band, Again! @ Incendiary Brewing Company (W-S) 6 p.m.
GDPI Kids’ Klub: My Park Placemaking Fun @ LeBauer Park (GSO) 10 a.m.
GPDI park ambassadors invite you to come out on Thursdays and Saturdays for activities, games and scavenger hunts designed to help children connect with the park, the community and more. Register on Eventbrite.
Sensory Friendly Night @ Greensboro Science Center (GSO) 5:30 p.m. The Greensboro Science Center invites you to enjoy science at your own pace during this after-hours event features activities designed for those with sensory-related challenges, Autism and more. future event dates on the event page on Facebook.
Greensboro musician James Gilmore invites you to the release party of his album Decorating Time, created in partnership with Butler Knowles and Kassem Williams. Masks are required at this event. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook.
Head to the Coal Pit at Bailey Power Plant and join the Piedmont Wind Symphony for an evening of marches, movie soundtracks and more. The best part is admission is free! Learn more from the event page on Facebook.
TUESDAY Sept. 14
She Can, We Can: Be an Entrepreneur Everywhere @ UNCG Elliot University Center (GSO) 8 a.m.
Enjoy eats from food trucks from around the state! Drizzle D’s, the Naked Empanada and more will be lined down Liberty Street ready to serve you. The festival will also include live music and a kids’ chalk art contest. Find more information at winstonsalemfoodtruckfestival.com/.
SEPT. 9-15, 2021 | UP FRONT
Winston-Salem Food Truck Festival (W-S) 1 p.m.
As part of UNCG’s series, “She Can, We Can: Beyond the Women’s Suffrage Centennial,” the university is hosting a series of events, discussions and performances designed to make you think, “what political advances and compromises resulted in the passage of the 19th Amendment, and how have these shaped issues of equity in our own time?” Learn more at provost.uncg.edu/shecanwecan/.
NEWS | SEPT. 9-15, 2021
Decades of underfunding, labor and parts shortage culminate in HVAC problems for Guilford County Schools by Sayaka Matsuoka
t’s a bit like playing whack-amole. As schools opened in late August, many students in Guilford County faced sweltering heat both outside and inside the classrooms. Three schools — Smith High School, Ragsdale High School and Jamestown Middle School — had to temporarily close their buildings because classroom temperatures rose to uncomfortable levels. The schools have since all reopened. The problem, according to school district officials, is not new. Chronic underfunding, deferred maintenance and now a shortage of labor and supplies has led to yet another year of HVAC systems failing within the school district. And this comes at a time when students are finally returning to the classrooms after having to be mostly virtual throughout the last two school years. “The average age of our schools is 55 years old,” said Guilford County Schools Vice Chair Winston McGregor. “Of course it’s the older buildings that have problems because we didn’t have the funds to fix them.” According to the school officials, 109 of the 126 schools within the district have submitted work orders for HVAC system repairs. According to district guidelines, when temperatures in a classroom exceed 85 degrees, “students must be relocated to a cooler setting on campus” and “if at least half of the school building… is without air-conditioning or has temperatures over 85 degrees and students cannot be reasonably relocated to cooler areas, then the school should be closed for all students.” At a press conference last week, McGregor was joined by COO Michelle Reed and CFO Angie Henry to answer questions about the state of HVAC systems throughout the school district. According to Reed, the district has seen a 39 percent increase in total work orders; they received about 1,000 work orders just in August. By Aug. 31, the district had whittled that number down to about 700. But as officials explained during the press conference, the situation in the district is not one that can be solved with simple solutions. “We are paying the piper for the decisions we made 10 years ago,” McGregor
said in an interview. “We are digging out able to say, ‘Boy, we made decisions that of the hole, but it’s not a hole that the made a difference in this community.’” board of education dug.” What funding for schools According to McGregor, much of the fault lies in how the previous county looks like moving forward commissioners allocated funding to the ast year, during the same election that school board in past years. She explained flipped the county commissionhow in the state of North Carolina, ers blue, voters overwhelmingly funding for schools comes directly from voted to pass a $300 million bond the state and the county. And over the that will be used to build and replace last several years, the majority Repubnine schools within the district. Those lican Guilford County Commission nine schools will have new HVAC prioritized tax cuts rather systems that will hopefully than funding schools, last for years. But that’s McGregor claimed. Last Of the 126 schools just a drop in the bucket fall, three seats flipped of the 126 total schools in within Guilford blue, making the board the district. As reported by a majority Democratic County, 109 have TCB, a 2019 facilities study entity for the first time by the school district found submitted work in years. McGregor said that a $2 billion need to fix orders for HVAC that she hopes that with more than 100 schools in the new makeup, more system repairs. the district. However, last funding will make its way May, the former county to the schools, avoiding commissioners voted to authorize just this problem a decade from now. $300 million — less than 20 percent of “We’re seeing the current board of the school board’s initial request for $1.6 county commissioners take this really sebillion — to fix the schools. What the riously,” she said. “So when we pass the district needs now, McGregor says, is second bond, 10 years from now, we’ll be another school bond.
“We asked for $1.6 billion last time and they put up $300 million,” McGregor said. “I think the process requires for us to make another request.” In addition to the school bond funds, which are already spoken for, the school district gets annual capital maintenance funds to help repair schools. Last year, the school district requested $20 million for their capital outlay fund, of which $9 million was allotted for HVAC projects and $5 million was to be set aside for roofing projects. However, in the end, the former county commissioners voted to pass just $4 million. Earlier this year, the county commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $229 million to Guilford County Schools. About $10 million of that will be used to address deferred maintenance projects outside of the school bond-related projects. The school district has also received funding from the federal government in the form of ESSER funds, or Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, due to the pandemic. According to a district presentation, Guilford County Schools has received $286.8 million in ESSER funds to be used through 2023-
SEPT. 9-15, 2021 | NEWS
24. And while some of that funding will issue and getting people to fix the units be used to fix HVAC issues, McGregor and the parts. I think it’s more than just noted that if the systems had been propa money issue.” erly maintained in the last decade, they According to ACHR News, an outlet could have used that funding for other focused on the HVACR industry, reissues brought upon by the pandemic. cord sales in 2020 and the first half of “That money is supposed to be used 2021have been followed by a parts and for learning loss,” McGregor said. “And supply-chain issue. One of the biggest there’s lot of regulation on what that problems is that manufacturers are conmoney can be spent on.” tinuing to struggle to find enough people McGregor also clarified during both to work in factories. The article also the Aug. 31 press conference and in the notes that transportation logistics such interview with TCB that just because the as a shortage of shipping containers and school district appears to have certain lack of truck drivers is also contributing excess funds like open bus driver posito a supply chokehold. tions, that that funding cannot be used “I’ve talked to the superintendent for HVAC repairs. several times about it,” Alston said. “She “There’s false and misleading inforsaid, ‘I can’t find anybody to fix it.’… I mation that’s out there about what kind know that it’s a labor problem and you of funding can be actually used to repair don’t have enough HVAC contractors to schools,” he said. “The law restricts how take care of the demand. The demand we use our funding. The state doesn’t is so high right now and a lot of people allow us to use transportation funding to can’t get the parts for their air conditiongo fix HVAC even if we ing systems.” have open bus driver poJanson Silvers, a sitions. The state doesn’t spokesperson for the allow us to use funding school district, echoed ‘[T]ime is of the for teaching positions we same concerns in essence, but at the those haven’t filled to go fix an an email to TCB. HVAC system; that’s not same time we’re “We are actively fixing how the law works. We issues and are actively at the mercy of the are constrained by those working on identifying regulations that the state labor force.’ new issues daily,” he legislature passes.” wrote. “A maintenance – Guilford County Commission The best thing movprogram is ongoing Chair Skip Alston ing forward, McGregor throughout the year to noted, is for voters to support the needs of pass another school bond our buildings. Many next year. work orders require parts/equipment to “We’ve got to pass another $1.7 bilcomplete the work. And currently, we lion,” McGregor said. “None of that’s are experiencing a significant impact to going to happen overnight.” our turnaround time due to the national supply shortage. As parts are received, National lack of labor and we are dispatching techs to install as we want to ensure all locations are operating parts exacerbates problems at optimal levels.” hile funding is important and Alston said that as county commishas been an issue in the past, sioner, he’s dedicated to helping schools Guilford County Commisbe repaired so that students can learn in sion Chair Skip Alston told TCB that he safe environments. And as the warmer doesn’t think that funding is the main months transition into fall and winter, he issue now. understands that those same systems that “I really don’t think that it’s a money are failing to cool, will also fail to heat issue right now,” he said. “The schools in colder temperatures. For now, he said have not come to us for additional that the only thing to do is to be patient. funds.” “We’ll end this together; we want to Alston, who echoed some of the sentiwork with the school system,” he said. ments brought forth by McGregor in “We want to try to deal with it as soon as terms of past underfunding by county possible because time is of the essence, commissioners, said that he believes the but at the same time we’re at the mercy main issue is supply chain and a shortage of the labor force.” of labor. “The problem is their lack of labor,” he said. “The school district has contacted air conditioning companies in a 50-mile radius. I think that’s the main
NEWS | SEPT. 9-15, 2021
Harris Teeter customer goes on tirade about masks, doesn’t get kicked out despite county mandate By Sayaka Matsuoka
hat’s the point of a mask mandate if businesses don’t enforce them? That’s the question that was on the minds of many customers and staff in a Harris Teeter off of Lawndale Drive in Greensboro. On Friday afternoon, cell-phone video captured a woman, accompanied by another younger woman and a small child, yelling about masks at another customer in the check-out line. While footage of the beginning of the conflict was not caught on camera, the unmasked woman can be heard yelling, “Shut the fuck up” and about how her relatives didn’t die so that she could lose her Constitutional rights to not wear a mask. Guilford County instituted a mask mandate on Aug. 13 requiring individuals to wear masks “when indoors in all business, establishments and public places. Failure to comply with this mask rule could result in leveraged civil penalties.” Multiple studies have found that masks are highly effective in blocking the release of respiratory droplets that contribute to the spread of COVID-19. One of the managers on duty, who wore a nametag bearing the name “Scott,” stated that it was corporate policy not to remove customers from the store if they refused to wear a mask. On their website, Harris Teeter, which is headquartered in North Carolina and has 261 locations across the Southeast, states that they are “strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask in [their] stores.” An email obtained by TCB includes further information about the grocery chain’s policy on masks and how they are enforcing it, given the county mandate. “Harris Teeter is aware of Guilford County’s mask requirement, and our associates are compliant,” the email states. “We will do everything we can to encourage shoppers to comply including displaying signage and offering a mask to anyone who does not have one. 1. All store associates will be required to wear masks. 2. Harris Teeter will offer noncompliant shoppers a disposable mask as long as we have a supply on hand. 3. Only a member of management will engage noncompliant shoppers. We will remind any shoppers that mask requirement exists and the restrictions
The woman yelled at other customers as well as employees as she checked out at the Harris Teeter off of Lawndale Drive in Greensboro last Friday.
require the wearing of masks/face coverbusinesses, the fines are higher, startings. We will inform the shopper that we ing at $300, going up to $500 then to would appreciate their compliance – for $1,500. their safety and for the safety of our However, Jim Secor, public informavalued associates tion officer for the Guilford County 4. Harris Teeter associates will not Sheriff’s Office, said in an email on Fribe put in a position to refuse entry to day that so far, the sheriff’s office has not shoppers. We will do our best to inform issued any fines. In addition to sheriff’s the shopper and encourage them to deputies, other county employees such comply.” as environmental health inspectors or Requests for comment from Harris public health educators can also enforce Teeter corporate management went the mask mandate. unanswered for this County commisarticle. sioner Skip Alston Several customers Guilford County officials also noted that he and staff members doesn’t believe any issued a mask mandate appeared upset businesses have been on Aug. 13 that requires by the woman’s fined yet. outburst. One staff “The process, individuals to wear masks member told TCB number one we try when indoors in all that the woman is to educate people,” businesses, establishments Alston said. “Then a frequent shopper and public places. at the location and once we educate always comes in them, we come back without a mask. Other employees noted and give them a warning; we try to bend that management has never turned her over backwards to try not to fine them.” away. If businesses don’t comply after a few According to the county’s mask warnings, then they get put on a “hot mandate, civil penalties may be enforced list,” Alston said. If county officials have on businesses or individuals who do not to go back a third time, then they will incomply with the rules. The rules note stitute a fine. If businesses don’t comply that the county can impose sanctions after being fined multiple times, then the starting with $50 after a warning, then county will shut the business down. $300, then $1,500 for individuals. For Because the mask mandate hasn’t
been in effect for that long, Alston said that he’s trying to be patient and educate both customers and management first. During a shopping trip to Five Below and At Home, Alston said he saw customers in the store without masks. When he approached the managers on duty, they told him that they were told by corporate or upper management that they either couldn’t enforce masks or that they were optional for those who are vaccinated. “I told them, ‘That’s not true,’” he said. “It’ll hopefully be a teachable moment for them. And they were both courteous. I think people want to do it but get misinformation from their managers.” Because of this, Alston said that the county will take the next 30 days to focus just on educating the public before starting to fine any businesses. “A lot of people are not aware of what exactly is the process concerning the mandate,” he said. “It’s not our intentional to fine someone.” In the meantime, Alston said that customers are welcome to report any businesses who are not complying with the mandate. To learn more about the mask mandate, visit healthyguilford.com. To report a business not following the mask mandate, call 336-641-7638.
with Dr. Blair Wisco at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
WE’RE EXAMINING: emotional and physical reactions to memories of stressful or traumatic experiences. YOU MUST BE: •Age 18 or older •Able to read and write in English THE BASICS: •5 visits to our lab within 2 weeks •$150 total compensation
WHAT YOU’LL DO: •Interviews and questionnaires (3 hour visit) •Monitor your bodily reactions while you think of past experiences (2 hour visit)
SEPT. 9-15, 2021 | NEWS
PARTICIPATE IN OUR RESEARCH
•Wear a cardiac monitor and answer questions on a tablet computer on 3 days (30 min set-up per day)
WANT TO SEE IF YOU’RE ELIGIBLE?
CONTACT US TO GET STARTED! You will be asked to complete screening questions online and over the phone. Email or call us to get more information and be directed to the online survey. Or, scan the QR code to take you straight there. Dr. Blair Wisco - UNCG
OPINION | SEPT. 9-15, 2021
The thing about Mt. Tabor High School
he shooting at Mt. Tabor High In Winston-Salem, neither police nor the School in Winston-Salem last DA’s office has said anything other than week took the life of 15-year-old a suspect was arrested “without incident” William Chavis Renard Miller Jr., about six hours after the shooting. We who never had a chance. It also made the know he is a juvenile — just 15 years old. national news — briefly — not so much beAnd no one is talking to the press. cause school shootings are big news these A week later, they owe us all more than days, but because there had been another that. in North Carolina, at New Hanover High These things are true: Juveniles are in Wilmington, a day earlier. accorded special status under the law and Still, a few Triad City Beat staffers rein the media. We protect their identiported that several of their acquaintances ties, particularly if they have not yet been were unaware of either shooting. charged, which is why the New Hanover No one died at New Sheriff’s Office deleted the Hanover, and though the tweet naming the accused A week later we suspected shooter was a shooter. juvenile, Sheriff Ed McMaBut WSPD and the Forstill have very hon named him in a press syth County DA are hiding few details conference and a tweet behind those truths, conwhich was later deleted. flating them with this other concerning the District Attorney Benjamin thing that is also true: It the shooting at David also charged the has been a week; we need shooter with attempted to know what the charges Mt. Tabor High. first degree murder, assault against this kid will be, with deadly weapon with whether he will be tried as intent to kill or inflict serious injury, possesa juvie or an adult. Eventually, we will need sion of a weapon on school grounds and his name, as well as more details of the discharging a weapon on school grounds. shooting that include the context of the His mother has already spoken to local incident as well as the weapon involved. media. It is “unclear” according to news We need to know whose gun it is. reports if the Wilmington shooter, who is We have our suspicions as to why these Black, will be charged as a minor or as an key components of the case are still being adult. kept under wraps. Eventually, the facts will show if our cynicism is warranted.
by Nicole Zelniker
Pandemic tattoos become a form of self-expression, therapy
ennifer Smith’s newest tattoos take up most of her back. A white tiger with pale blue eyes sits on her left shoulder surrounded by flowers to its right. Beneath it, a red dragon roars, mouth open, its right wing just under the tiger’s chin. In the last year and a half, Jennifer Smith’s relief from the pandemic has been tattoo therapy. Smith, who already had more than a dozen tattoos, got her a white tiger in September 2020. It covers an older version of the same animal on her shoulder. Three months later, she got the dragon. “I wanted my year to end how I wanted it,” she said. “I wanted to take control of something of my life.” For the last several months, Smith has been seeing Karen Peraza, her regular tattoo artist at Tattoo Therapy, a shop in Winston-Salem where all of the artists are women. She noted that all of the staff wore masks and that they took care to clean their equipment. Soon, Smith’s 18-year-old daughter will be getting her first tattoo. “It’s self-expression and control of me,” she said. “No one can tell me what to do. I’m taking everything in my hands. To me, tattoos are very personal, but at the same time they’re kind of freeing.” Over the course of the pandemic, tattoo shops are one of the few businesses COURTESY PHOTO that have seen a boom. Tattoo artists in the US are projected to have increased Jennifer Smith has been getting tattoos for years. She currently has more than a dozen, with the most recent ones done by Karen by 23.2 percent by the end of 2021 acPeraza of Tattoo Therapy in Winston-Salem. cording to data from IBIS World anapeople making appointments in greater numbers than before. been closed up too, in their homes, and were unable to go out, lysts. Multiple psychologists have said Other local artists have seen similar trends. Beth Fairchild, a so we were pretty busy when we first came back from COVID. this is a way for many people to cope tattoo artist at Inkology in Greensboro, says people have told People were happy to wear their masks and comply with all with the trauma of the pandemic. her that they have been able to come in because they haven’t their regulations.” “There was a lot of pent-up demand been spending money on going out or traveling. Finn Skrypnyk who frequents Tried and True Tattoos in for tattooing, and that seems to be the Fairchild mostly does tattoos for breast-cancer patients, but Greensboro, noted that they got two tattoos done by Lee trend all across the globe,” says tattoo she says she is open to creating anything. Smith, their favorite artist, no problem. Skrypnyk explains historian CW Eldridge, who owns and “I have a friend of mine who had a full alopecia response to that they met the artist as part of a local queer meet-up operates Tattoo Archives in Winstonchemotherapy and I gave her eyebrows and group. Salem. “Everyone lashes,” said Fairchild. “That was really a life “It was really important to go to an artist that represented I’ve talked to across changing tattoo for her, so that in turn makes and shared some of the identities that I have,” they said. “I continents say that’s me feel really good. I have a young man who’s don’t know a total count, but I have somewhere around 15 business.” a paraplegic that comes in and I did a whole tattoos.” Like other sectors, sleeve on his arm. He relies on other people One of Skrypnyk’s recent tattoos is of a heart with three plenty of tattoo shops for his basic care, so to see him smile and daggers on their arm. They said that it was to symbolize the had to close down show it off and be super proud of it, that’s heartbreak that the world was going through. A year ago, they when the pandemic hit really cool. I love creating art on people, but I got a tattoo of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was a personal hero. last March. Eldridge really love when it’s super meaningful. Those That one took nearly five hours. closed his own shop for -Jennifer Smith are the ones that stick with me.” “They all represent something in my life that I was gofour months, and his Inkology had made an effort to be as clean ing through or commemorate a person or event,” they said. artists only did tattoos as possible, but Fairchild says none of her “Some of them are just fun.” by appointment until clients were very worried to begin with. three months ago. But as soon as the “People were coming back right away,” she says. “They had doors opened just a bit, Eldridge saw
SEPT. 9-15, 2021 | CULTURE
‘To me, tattoos are very personal, but at the same time, they’re kind of freeing.’
CULTURE | SEPT. 9-15, 2021
Artist Tomie’s new show illuminates celebrities’ struggles with addiction and suicide by Sayaka Matsuoka
In addition to Anthony Bourdain, Tomie painted Amy Winehouse, Hunter S. Thompson and several others for her new show.
rom across the dimly lit room, Anthony Bourdain’s face emerges from a neon green background. He wears those thick sunglasses he was known for and the words, “IT’S BEEN AN ADVENTURE,” run vertically across the vast canvas, framing the right side of his face. An oyster shell juts out from his neck while syringes hover above his hairline. It’s an apt homage to the late chef and cultural icon with its frenetic energy combined with Bourdain’s own words of wisdom. It’s also one of artist Tomie’s favorite pieces in her new show, which portrays celebrities who died from substance abuse or suicide. The High Point mixed-media artist has struggled with her own mental health
issues for the last decade. With her deep red lipstick and her arms covered in tattoos, she exudes confidence and speaks with warmth and a comforting smile, but she says that her battle with depression hasn’t always been easy. Tomie says she was raised by a single mother who was addicted to drugs and she saw firsthand the kind of impact that can have on not only the person using, but their child. Then, about 15 years ago, she went through a complicated divorce; her husband ended up getting custody of their daughter. Tomie hasn’t seen her in nine years. “Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, that sets my depression off,” explains Tomie, who goes by her first name only. Twelve years ago, she got pregnant with her son, who she says saved him. Drawing from her own experience, the artist is opening her first-ever show at the Gallery on Main in High Point on Sept. 11. Her favorite pieces in the exhibit are her Anthony Bourdain and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. Both died by suicide. “Those two really hurt my feelings, like really, really hurt my feelings,” she says. “They were loved, and they were so funny and lovely and awesome, and they both committed suicide
Exalt & Illuminate opens at the Gallery on Main in High Point on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. The show will run through Oct. 2. Learn more about Tomie on Facebook or on Instagram at @ tomie_arts.
and it’s just sad, you know? It’s so sad because they were so loved… but it’s not about how many people love you or how famous you are, you’re still going to have issues.” And that’s really the point of the show, which Tomie has named Exalt & Illuminate. As someone who has struggled with her own issues in the past and continues to work through them now, Tomie says she wanted to shed light on some of the more somber parts of famous people’s lives that many may not know about. During the pandemic, she saw how many others were struggling with addition and suicide as well. “I decided to choose this topic because I wanted something that had some meaning,” she says. “Not just a landscape or a normal picture and something that brought in all the dark things that people don’t want to talk about. Each of these pieces have facts, rumors, speculation, conspiracies all the things that go along with it and it’s up to each person to decide what they see, what they believe.” While Bourdain and Bennington might have been beloved by many, Tomie says she was intentional about including all kinds of celebrities in her show. That includes many who she knows committed horrible acts during their lifetimes, such as Michael Jackson and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. The point, Tomie says, isn’t to celebrate these individuals necessarily, it’s to show that they were people who experienced trauma and mental illness, too.
SEPT. 9-15, 2021 | CULTURE SAYAKA MATSUOKA
While the painting of Ian Curtis from Joy Division looks at first glance like one of the simplest pieces in the exhibition, Tomie’s dedication to getting the famous Unknown Pleasures album cover just right meant that she spent hours tracing lines over the singer’s face.
“No matter if they’re terrible people or not, they still have problems,” she says. “Who’s to say that their drug addictions and mental health wasn’t the culprit of them being the shitty people they were, because that happens right? They’re still people.” Other celebrities that Tomie chose for the show, which spans about 30 pieces total, include Amy Winehouse, Carrie Fisher and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. To create the works, Tomie says she scavenged for used canvases at Goodwill or Reconsidered Goods. She used glow-in-the-dark and UV paints to create eye-popping, luminescent works that reveal additional layers when viewed under blacklights, which will be set up during the show’s opening. She also added little trinkets to many of the canvases like fake drugs that represent the ways in which some of the celebrities died. She calls the combination of it call “trash pop art.”
For her first show, Tomie says that it was important for her to create works that spoke to her and illuminated problems that she knows many people deal with. During the last year, when having to quarantine at home, she says her depression got worse. Working on the series is what gave her renewed hope and direction. As a 46-year-old who grew up in an era when talking about mental health was still heavily stigmatized, she says she’s excited about younger generations openly sharing their struggles with each other. That’s her ultimate goal for this show too, she says. “I want people to realize that they’re not alone in what they’re in,” Tomie says. “These people aren’t with us anymore; they don’t have that choice anymore, but we do. And the person who it resonates with does, to have the choice to stay and be here.”
SHOT IN THE TRIAD | SEPT. 9-15, 2021
SHOT IN THE TRIAD
North Davie Street, Greensboro
CAROLYN DE BERRY
Set up for the 2021 NC Folk Festival is underway at Lebauer Park. The festival runs Sept. 10-12 and features more than 300 artists on multiple stages in continuous performances in downtown Greensboro.
1 Alan of “M*A*S*H” 5 Falling-out 9 “Human Behaviour” singer 14 Writing style where “computer” is “c0mpu732” 15 Daughter of LBJ 16 Enticing sort 17 Symposium for cinema buffs, maybe 19 Ammonia compound 20 e.e. cummings offering 22 Earth goddess created by Chaos 24 Roger’s “77 Sunset Strip” costar 25 “Born,” in some notices 26 Monetary notes? 28 “South Park” episode “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas ___” 30 O.J. trial judge Lance 31 Literary misprints © 2021 Jonesin’ Crosswords (firstname.lastname@example.org) 35 “Right Here Waiting” singer Richard 39 Princess Peach’s realm, in the Mario series 42 Fencing sword 43 “Le stagioni del ___ amore” (1966 movie also called “Seasons of Our Love”) 44 “Suits” network 45 “The Big Bang Theory” role 47 Julia of “10 Things I Hate About You” Answers from last issue 49 Pelican State sch. 21 Maintenance 52 Its flag features a red dragon 22 Stood 56 Different roles, metaphorically 23 Stood 57 Wriggly 1990s video game/TV protagonist 26 FDR’s on it who wears a robotic suit to move around 27 Circus act where an acrobat grabs on by the teeth 60 Burj Khalifa’s city 29 “This is wild” 61 Olympic squad that once had Bird and Jordan 32 “Winnie-the-Pooh” marsupial 65 Including everything 33 Morning times, briefly 66 Prospector’s find 34 Purchase at a booth (abbr.) 67 Gymnastics legend Korbut 36 Of age 68 John ___ Garner (FDR’s first veep) 37 Derby winner’s flowers 69 Cosmo competitor 38 “Do not open ‘til ___” 70 “Sure, whatever” 40 “I Can’t Breathe” singer Down 41 “It should’ve been me, ___!” (Yu-Gi-Oh meme) 46 For some time 1 Sitcom alien 48 “Same here!” 2 Hawaiian Airlines offering 49 Escorted from the door 3 “Macarena” duo Los ___ Rio 50 Finnish steam room 4 It might be tacked onto your withdrawal 51 Around the city 5 Fruit used in gin drinks 53 Beaver home 6 Turn into baby food 54 “Captain Blood” star Flynn 7 “Wabash Cannonball” singer Roy 55 Enjoy a scratch-and-sniff sticker 8 East ___ (U.N. member since 2002) 58 1 on the Mohs scale 9 “Pow!” 59 Green carving stone 10 Move on a checkerboard 62 Caribou’s kin 11 Constellation with a belt 63 Word before Khan 12 Zellweger who played Jones 64 National Asparagus Month 13 Krispy ___ (doughnut chain) 18 Drafter of the Constitution, e.g.
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SEPT. 9-15, 2021 | PUZZLES
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Tomie tackles mental health issues with pop art. Plus our decaying schools, the Harris Teeter lady, the Mt Tabor High shooting, what readers...
Published on Sep 9, 2021
Tomie tackles mental health issues with pop art. Plus our decaying schools, the Harris Teeter lady, the Mt Tabor High shooting, what readers...