March 2009

Amos Hummell: Coloring outside the Lines

Author: Nicole Birkoski

“Coloring outside of the lines is scary business. Some days I don’t have the courage for it at all. On my big, bold days, though, I let my red crayon just streak across a line. Then I swirl my purple and orange out there with it in perfect freedom, no lines. Coloring outside the lines is lonely, too. It would be nice to have a friend who colored outside the lines, sometimes, too…would you?”

This poem, by Sarah Hall Maney, hangs in local artist Amos Hummell’s studio next to a painting he and his son, Chandler, created based on the poem. This poem personifies Amos.

Entering Amos’s art studio on 38 Calhoun Street in downtown Bluffton is a sight for the eyes. The charming cottage houses beautiful original paintings of Lowcountry-inspired images, including land, sea, fish, oysters and the May River, by self-taught artist, Amos. He also creates unique 3D sculptures such as the Tiki Diva and a Mona Lisa with a bad tooth.

Amos (who wanted to be a cartoonist growing up) is also quite a character. Although a man wearing pink rhinestone glasses and clothes splattered with paint may be hard for some to take seriously, he is a true artist. Having lived in the area for almost 30 years, according to Amos, he is committed to appreciating and respecting nature in a community—fostering a healthy, thriving habitat for all creatures great and small. “The importance of how we all see this garden—the Lowcountry, as the living soul it is—is an art unto itself,” he said.

Being a part of the Island School Council for the Arts, a local non-profit dedicated to bringing arts education programming to our local schools, is important to Amos. The organization provides money to support arts in our schools, which is vital to both students and local artists. The Artists-In Education Program allows teachers from Hilton Head Island and Bluffton to apply for a grant to bring professional artists into the classroom for some hands-on teaching of art.

Students from Bluffton High School and Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts received two of these grants in the form of Amos Hummell. He typically teaches a group of students (anywhere from 14 to 60) thirteen classes throughout a month of school.

One such class is called Creative Digital Expression Class, in which the students take a number of pictures and make a story mosaic out of it. With his The Dancing Planet project, Amos gives video cameras to the students to find examples of the planet dancing—the grass blowing in the wind or a bird gliding on the water are some of the creative examples the kids discovered. The point of this exercise, according to Amos, is to help develop artist’s eyes.

Another class, 3D Construction, encourages students to find some junk and make something of it. Wood, clay, popsicle sticks and metal can create interesting sculptures! (See Amos’s studio for evidence of this.)

Living Colors, the popular performances put on by Amos and friends, will resume this summer. This is something the whole family can enjoy in downtown Bluffton, while listening to local bands and walking along Calhoun Street. Different characters dress up in wacky costumes with unusual props, such as a food tray or breathing mask and perform for you. Amos likes to have a good time and get things started, and Living Colors is a great way for the community to come together.

Bringing locals together from Sun City to Sea Pines to share knowledge and define our community through art is something Amos and local developer, Thomas Viljac, want to accomplish. They want to create a Regional Community Campus for Arts in Education on Calhoun Street. Their vision is: “to act in concert, energizing the advancement of arts and culture through Old Town Bluffton as venue.” For more information and to see some of Amos’s paintings, please visit his website at hummellstudios.com.

Amos will soon be working at the newly renovated Old Town Museum at Seven Oaks, which will focus on Bluffton history. Amos’s art will be on display (as well as art from local students), but he will focus on sharing Bluffton’s history based on the artifacts from different cultures and art that will be on display at the museum.
Clearly, Amos is a man who colors outside the lines. Hopefully he will continue to do so and inspire us to do the same. “To be an artist is a calling,” said Amos. We are listening.

Seven Oaks
The Old Town Museum at Seven Oaks, located at 1850 Calhoun Street, will soon be open to the public. Thomas Viljac restored this beautiful home to act as a museum to showcase local artifacts from the Civil War and other local pieces of history. Robert Jones Jr., formerly of the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, will be the executive director of the museum. Bluffton used to be a major fishing port for oysters, and most of the homes were burned during the Civil War. Seven Oaks is one of seventeen original homes left standing.

Seven Oaks is available for private parties, meetings and weddings. The wraparound porch, stunning craftsmanship and large backyard, with lush greenery and a view of the May River, will take your breath away. Since the museum will be a non-profit venture, proceeds from the rental of Seven Oaks will help fund the museum.

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