Performance Art at Events: Unconventional Compositions

By Britton Thomas, March 3, 2015

How do today’s most dynamic speakers compete with the warming glow of smartphones and tablets? By being someone who not only speaks but performs. A growing number of groups are bringing in visual artists to captivate attendees during conferences and events. K-LOVE Cruise 2015, a faith-based voyage through the Bahamas, will feature prominent Christian musicians such as Mandisa and Casting Crowns—but don’t be surprised if artist Jared Emerson steals the show.

Emerson routinely paints on-site at conferences, churches and charity events. He cites his faith as the primary motivator behind his work. His fans include notable art aficionados such as comedian Jeff Foxworthy, gourmet chef and TV personality Guy Fieri, and NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne. But you don’t have to be famous to appreciate Emerson’s work. His performances have resonated with groups at Ronald McDonald House Charities, BMW and Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

While he is the most prominent performing artist in the faith-based community, Emerson isn’t the only painter of his kind. Artist Gregory Adamson also creates large-scale works of art on the spot in front of large audiences.

Up-tempo isn’t a descriptor that gets tossed around often in the art world, but that’s the only way to describe the pace of Adamson’s performances. If the multiple paintbrush method, jerky motions, flowing hair, lively music and splattering paint aren’t enough to hold your attention, the guessing game will.

Adamson often paints with the canvas upside down, so determining what (or whom) he’s painting is enough to tease your attendees’ brains for an extended period of time. The intrigue builds with every brushstroke or handful of paint that is spread or thrown across the canvas. Sometimes audiences can peg it early on, but sometimes the image doesn’t become clear until the canvas is flipped over. Inevitably, Adamson will upend his workspace to reveal Louis Armstrong or a seascape or a member of the Rat Pack, usually to a collection of oohs and aahs. 

Photo credit: Deborah Dodge

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