Bussie Kehoe and Beth Murray Collaborative Piece
A monthly column that keeps its finger on the pulse of Forsyth’s artists and their inspiring stories!
BY TARYN JEREZ
“Maximalism/Minimalism” will be on exhibit from April 2nd through May 29th at Red Dog Gallery in downtown Winston-Salem, featuring over twenty-five combined art pieces by two separate artists, Beth Murray and Bussie Parker Kehoe. The truth is, while these two women have created two very separate worlds of artistic expression, one of their most unique masterpieces is the collaboration on which they’ve built the last three years.
The studio they share has become a place of familiarity and comfort, knowing there’s always a home for creativity, constructive feedback, collaborative growth, and a very real friendship. “There’s a door between our studio space and it’s maybe been closed three times in three years,” Beth shared.
Like many great relationships, theirs began all because they decided to take a chance on each other.
When you ask how they first came to know one another, Beth and Bussie often refer to it humorously as their “meet-cute.” The scene is set on a December evening in 2017 inside Melissa Ward’s Studio on Burke Street. Beth is hosting her latest art show. Bussie is new to town and eager to meet the artist behind the work. Often shy, Bussie waited until the very end of the event to say hello, and within 10 minutes, Beth asked if she was looking for a studio space and if she’d be interested in going in together. No more than 24 hours later, they drove together to check out the studio and on the spot said yes. What may sound a little crazy, was in fact, the catalyst they both needed, even if they didn’t know it at the time.
Beth remembers asking, “Are you sure?” right before signing and Bussie replied, “This is the best thing that’s happened to me in a decade.” Similar to the journey of an artist’s work, life will take you places you didn’t always set out to go and it turns out beautifully!
While many artists prefer to work alone, Beth and Bussie have found that their collaboration in shared studio space and passion have been what’s kept them moving forward at a momentum that never would have happened alone. From sharing similar schedules and having added accountability to show up and go after things plays a big part in their separate but equal success. “We are both in the same season of life trying to accomplish what we both want,” Beth shared.
Beth is an abstract painter that has called Winston home all her life. She was a studio art major at Salem College and after her two children hit their more independent years, she found herself back in the studio. One of her greatest joys in this season is entering the studio every day, exploring and pushing herself to constantly grow with her work.
Bussie studied printmaking and drawing at the University of Virginia, then put her art practice on pause while she practiced law, started a family, and taught art to preschool-aged children in Washington, DC. After a couple of family moves, she couldn’t contain her need to create any longer, and with a little help from fate, she opened her first studio here in Winston-Salem.
When both women’s journeys became intertwined, they found that collaboration over competition was truly a root source to growth. Bussie believes the information they both have is so helpful from sharing upcoming shows, art directories, learning new skills like how to frame together, sharing in trial and error – they push each other. “There’s little to no competition between us. Our work is so different. There’s no way to really compete with each other,” Beth remarked. Bussie acknowledges that it may not be the norm for solo artists to work so closely together without a touch of competition, but “If she gets an opportunity, I feel like I won,” she said.
For artists and creatives who want to have a similar collaborative force in their life and work, Beth and Bussie agree the best advice is to find like people! Bussie believes that “Everyone has their own experience and story to tell, and you can learn so much. Find people who are outside of your own demographic or medium or skill level and embrace being uncomfortable doing it – look what happened from my story of being new in town, shy and going for it!”
As many an artist has encountered, when you are sharing and selling your work, there is a lot of getting outside of your comfort zone, but that’s where growth really happens. “Putting yourself out there as an artist is incredibly difficult and uncomfortable because it’s our soul out there on our canvases, but it’s worth it,” Beth encourages. “So, say hello, invite someone to be your studio mate within 10 minutes of knowing them – what do you have to lose? In our experience, it’s worth it. The friendship is there over the art every day.”
If you are interested in learning more about the artists and seeing their work up close, Beth and Bussie’s collaborative art exhibit, “Maximalism/Minimalism,” will run 4/2-5/29 at Red Dog Gallery 630 N Liberty Street 27101 with a special “Meet and Greet” on April 17th and May 15th from 2-4 pm.