Fear is a mind-killer, says Atlanta artist Eben Dunn, who gave up decades as a successful real estate agent for a precarious existence creating mixed media art.
“My works are expressions of overcoming fear and giving yourself the ability to focus on things that can bring you happiness and balance,” Dunn said during a visit to his Inman Park studio. “Time is precious, and you are not given happiness, so art is one of those mediums like music that reminds people to stay on point, that this is where your energy should go. You have to work at it and put fear in its proper context if you want to be powerful and be happy.”
Dunn, 53, is exhibiting his work in a show called Amplification & De-Amplication at Different Trains Gallery in Decatur through the end of August.
The name of his exhibit refers to positive and negative energy. “I do these energy modulators that have a kabbalah component to them, which is kind of cool,” he said. “You have a red string that collects negative energy that’s ambient in a room, neutralizes that energy and emits it back into the space. I’ve always been fascinated with red string and the power that it has. It deflects bad juju, removes it. It’s been around for a thousand years.” Included also is a series of oils he calls Frequency Paintings that appear to be both radio frequencies and forests of trees.
Transistor radio tubes, scores of sheet music, old levels, rulers of every type, tribal necklaces, copper wire, teddy bears, and crystals are just some of the many items strewn around his studio. He uses all of them in his artwork.
“Dunn brings a fresh approach to his craft, motivated entirely by the joy of making good art,” said Shawn Vinson, director of Different Trains. “He’s not trying to impress anybody or conform to any rules of painting or image-making.”
Dunn said he tries to incorporate a sense of “fear less” in his art. “If you’re not Jewish you think we are saying ‘fearless,’ but all the Jews know I’m saying ‘fear less.’ When you see a piece of mine that has lines and dots on it, that’s ‘fear less’ in Morse code.”
His shift from selling property to making art was a quest that began as friends started asking him for paintings to give as wedding presents. He is self-taught, with no formal art training except for glass blowing as a youth. Dunn’s confidence in his abilities grew when he was offered his first show, in New York, just months after going into art full-time.
“I always knew I needed to spend time doing this, and if I didn’t, I’d regret it,” he said. “At the time I was just trying to teach myself to paint better. I’ve always been good with composition and I just needed to get some skills. I’m a better welder now and a better painter and sculptor than I was before.”
What: Eben Dunn Amplification & De-Amplification
When: Now through Aug. 31
Where: Different Trains Gallery
432 East Howard Ave, Decatur
How much: Free