Saturday, June 27, 2015

Charlotte loses unique artistic voice as Andy the Doorbum heads West

Andy the Doorbum is saying goodbye to his hometown with a farewell show at The Milestone Sunday that will track his musical journey from the very door booth that gave him his stage name through his current performance art work.

After April's arts invasion, during which Andy Fenstermaker (aka the Doorbum) not only acted as artist in residence at Snug Harbor (another club where he manned the door) but carryied out unusual acts of public performance art around the city. He wasn't alone in this. He curated a whole month of visual and musical exhibitions that included artists he'd befriended during his many travels. One of those artists was Los Angeles-based sculptor and photographer Sarah Sitkin, who has since become Fenstermaker's fiance.

Fenstermaker will join Sitkin in L.A. after detours through his native Pennsylvania where he'll help his father build a cabin on the family land and Ireland where he is setting up an art show with Amy Bagwell (mistress of Charlotte Wall Poems and CPCC professor).

Fenstermaker grew up in Gaston County and aside from extensive touring, he's lived here his entire life (aside from that one year in Pennsylvania). One of April's Art Invasion slogans was "Change Is Coming." Three months later it is here.

He recognizes the foreshadowing of the statement he created. But while Charlotte is losing an integral part of its underground arts scene it also seems like a place like L.A. may appreciate Andy the Doorbum's originality and vision more than the banking capital of the South. Although the other side of that argument is that Charlotte needs residents like Andy to push the envelope and create subversive statements that even his audience might not always "get."

I'm sure I cackled over lunch at Pinky's as he shared stories of explaining to police just what he was doing dragging a tree limb up and down Central Ave. while (I imagine) dressed in one of his costumes with his face painted ("Do you have a place to stay sir?"). He pointed to the story about his art invasion in Creative Loafing and said the folks at Snug would vouch that he worked there. The initial assumption is that someone coloring that far outside the lines must be crazy. Nah, he just has big thoughts he actually follows through on. How strange a place it would be if we all did?

Fenstermaker is a beloved figure in the community. He may look like a freaky character with his red curls and unkempt beard shooting in all directions wearing t-shirts of his own design, but get to know him, witness one of his performances, or listen to one of his records and you'll likely find yourself charmed.

Andy has made an impact on my family in a big way, which I've mentioned on this blog before. My husband went back to school after having a conversation with Andy at Snug Harbor one night. Although I joke that he took career advice from someone named Andy the Doorbum, my husband is happy about his decision.

His music has also put me in the mindset of certain characters and situations when working on my books. It helps get me to that mental place I need to be to write. I titled a chapter after one of his songs and consider him one of the inspirations behind the book.

Art begets art - a sentiment I think he'd approve of.

Those at his going away party Sunday will witness his evolution of art begetting art. He plans to start the show from the door booth where he recorded his first album then move chronologically through his different projects and collaborations over the years ending with his Alien/Native Movement. The show is likely to sell out, so buy tickets in advance.

Although he no longer has family here, Fenstermaker expects he'll return from time to time to perform and visit with friends. So it's not goodbye forever although he has shed much of the possessions and work he accumulated while living here. He even burned old journals in an exercise of renewal that kicked off the residency at Snug Harbor. That was even before he knew that change would mean a cross country move.

Tickets to Sunday's show are $5-$7. Friends Hectagons, Bo White, Robert Childers, and Nerve Endings will also play.

(Photo by Sarah Sitkin)