Voilà — employees showcase unique art talents on HGTV

Charles Buchanan, Justin Roth and Kristen Farmer Hall have similar personalities.

HGTV Producer Kate Turpinseed films Charles Buchanan as he creates his art project for the television show “That’s Clever!”
They are even-keeled, but do get excited when they believe it’s warranted. Their idea of showing excitement doesn’t necessarily reach TV’s level, which borders closer to animation.

The UAB employees discovered this about themselves while filming for the Home and Garden Television show “That’s Clever!” Now they will see how their art and enthusiasm translates to television this month when their episodes will air on the popular network.

“If you’ve ever seen a cooking show or home improvement show they work hard to make sure their subjects are always smiling and enthusiastic in what they’re doing,” says Buchanan, an editor in Periodicals, part of UAB’s Office of Public Relations & Marketing. “They kept wanting big energy from me, and my version of big energy is not their Hollywood version of big energy.”

“That’s Clever!” showcases the contemporary crafting scene around the country. The segments featuring UAB employees were filmed in December 2006, but the season did not begin airing until this Jan. 5.

Works showcased locally
Buchanan, Roth and Hall have had their works showcased locally at the Naked Art Gallery, Bare Hands Gallery, Artwalk and other venues, and each possesses unique artistic talents.

Roth, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Human Gene Therapy, creates pieces of concrete sculpture. In his episode, which aired Jan. 8, Roth described how to sculpt a fake fossil in clay, make a mold of the fossil and then cast it in concrete. The experience was crucial to giving Roth some much-needed confidence to show his art.

“I had a good experience and the people that came out were really fun to work with, but I never really had shown my art in a gallery at that point – and I had certainly never had shown it on television,” Roth says. “It actually inspired me to look at gallery options and start trying to sell it.”

Roth’s works can be seen online at Naked Art gallery’s site at www.nakedartusa.com.

Hall, associate director of development for the UAB Center of Palliative Care, is a fused-glass artist. She created a fused-glass mosaic table, which will be shown in her episode airing Friday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. Her pieces also include jewelry, dishes and other accessories.

“Fused glass has a magical quality to it; it’s very shiny, almost like candy,” says Hall, who has a Web site showcasing her work at sparkstudio.blogspot.com. “I’ve always been a creative being, and even as a young child I was interested in art and color. My professional training is in science and fused glass really is about chemistry so it’s kind of the perfect medium for me. It combines my love of art and science.”

Buchanan’s art focuses on block printing. He carved a rubber block to make a big artistic piece using multiple prints in his episode, which airs Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 7 a.m. His piece focuses on mid-century signs from the ’50s and ’60s, including Berthon’s Cleaners in West End.

Turning the tables
Buchanan has worked in the advertising industry and was comfortable behind the camera. But having the lens turned on him – all while creating an artistic piece in a somewhat high-pressure environment – can be daunting, he says.

“If I’m at Naked Art talking about my art I can talk about it easily and not stumble over my words and thoughts,” Buchanan says. “But it’s different when they’re in your living room and they have TV lights, a director, an audio person and a camera all staring at you. You’re creating your piece and you have to stop and find the camera and then say something and smile the whole time. Plus, they’re trying to do things relatively quickly.”

They also are asking the artists to act zany from time to time. For example, the director asked Buchanan to jump out from behind a tree in his front yard. And then there was the “voilà.”

“They wanted me to print something and say ‘voilà,’ and we did something like 10 takes of this and finally I just turned and said ‘You know, I don’t go around saying ‘voilà,’” Buchanan says. “The show is very high energy, and it plays up the fun, wacky part of art, which is good. It’s a television show, and we understood that going in. But if feels really funny when you’re doing it, and disconcerting in some ways.”

Still, the opportunity to showcase their talents on national television was something they each agree they couldn’t pass up — even if they had to leave a little amount of dignity at the door.

“There’s no doubt the show borders on cheesy, and they make you say all kinds of silly things,” Hall says. “But it was a great chance to show what I do. I’m interested to see what the finished product will look like.”