Known as “Hub City”, Spartanburg South Carolina continues to expand its palette to a wide variety of talent. Local artists abound, mostly due to the creation of the Hub City Cooperative, where artists support and share a building, business responsibilities and a storefront with each other.
I recently had the privilege of photographing The Children’s’ Advocacy Center of Spartanburg, Union, and Cherokee County’s “4th annual Healing Through Art auction and party” on behalf of Spartanburg Magazine. Guests purchased tickets to attend the event, dance to a fabulous funk band, and have the opportunity to bid on auction items. The proceeds from the event will benefit local, abused children in need.
Attending this event was “The Man Behind the Helmet,” local performing artist Roderice Cardell. Known as “TheMadddArtist,” Roderice is known for his eccentric artistic output of paint to canvas. Commonly seen at festivals and popular events, TheMadddArtist almost always dons a bike helmet, paint covered clothing and a set of earbuds. Dancing to his own chosen beat, TheMadddArtist paints the colors he sees in his mind in response to the emotions produced by the music.
I had a brief conversation with his supportive and cutely enamored girlfriend at the charity auction. I asked if Roderice had ever painted her. She responded,
“No, he hasn’t painted me, because he never begins a painting with a finished idea. He listens to the music and sees colors. He then paints the colors. The paint is often layered and evolves over and over again until he feels the painting is finished. Sometimes you’ll see a photo of how the painting began, and it will be completely different than how it ended.“
The paintings are rarely named. When a title is needed, the art piece is usually named something simple, like “Helmet.” Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick around long enough to photograph the completed painting, or to learn what the painting sold for or what it may have been named, but it sure was a great experience to watch this artist at work.
As I took photos from all different angles, guests would come to stand beside me, and often offered up comments like, “He’s good” or “Wow!” They’d then return with a friend and say, “Have you seen this guy!?!” Even the wait staff was enamored with watching this talented local artist create a unique art piece.
After I had finished my assignment, I sat to watch Roderice paint with a plateful of shrimp and chicken tenders ( a perk of the job!). I struck up conversation with his girlfriend again. Apparently, he wasn’t a youthful hooligan who began his artistic career “tagging” with spray paint (Yeah, I asked about that). Spray paint is one of the mediums that is used by TheMadddartist, and I was curious as to how he became so talented with it. Apparently, art became a creative outlet for him as he struggled with anxiety and depression. He needed to create.
I could certainly relate. Photography has certainly provided the same creative outlet for me, for the same reasons.
Over and over again, I learn that many of the most talented artists I meet are open about issues that many of us struggle with, but few are willing to speak about. Knowing the basis of this artist’s struggle caused me to respect and admire his creations even more.
At a regular performance, TheMadddArtist is constantly moving, active and is slinging paint from all angles. At this event, he presented his “toned down” version of performance art. The paint needed to be contained to a central area, without the chance of accidentally decorating the outside of the venue. He succeeded without painting an unintentional canvas.
To learn more about TheMadddArtist, visit his website here.