By JB Clark
TUPELO – Past the main stretch of artists, where the crowds began to taper out toward Main Street, two first-time GumTree Festival participants displayed their unique blend of traditional painting techniques with pop culture.
Justin Vowell is a recent transplant to Tupelo, a Philadelphia, Miss., native who moved here from Chattanooga, Tenn., in February. On Saturday, he said his art is heavily influenced by his love of comics and graphic novels from his childhood.
“I grew up reading comic books and playing with action figures so I like drawing figures and real graphic and illustrative images that tell stories,” he said.
Vowell’s figures included sets of “Star Wars” and “The Wizard of Oz” painted individually on 4-inch by 12-inch canvas.
He also sold pieces of metal he splattered with water and then painted over with spray paint. “It’s cool because it leaves very little texture but there is a real sense of depth,” he said.
Thomas Grosskops of Oxford paints traditional landscapes and portraits but is heavily influenced by mid-20th century science fiction.
“I might have a landscape with a zombie apocalypse or I might throw some aliens in,” Grosskops said as he showed off a painting of the Oxford Square being fully invaded by aliens.
The two painters offered something different from the pottery, landscapes, jewelry and Southern-inspired mixed-media many art festival-goers might expect, and those who stopped by their tents at the end of the row seemed to appreciate the change of direction.
Downtown Tupelo’s 43rd celebration of the arts features more than 100 booths, containing fine art, folk art and just about everything in between. It continues from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.