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Surreal look at life on view at Arts Clayton Gallery

Gingerlou Fulton smiles Friday during the opening reception for her Arts Clayton Gallery exhibit, titled "UnEarthed."

Gingerlou Fulton smiles Friday during the opening reception for her Arts Clayton Gallery exhibit, titled "UnEarthed."

— Wherever Gingerlou Fulton went Friday night, a crowd of people quickly gathered around her.

The admirers crowded around Fulton because the Arts Clayton Gallery held a formal opening reception for an exhibit of her work, titled “UnEarthed.” Every few minutes, someone came up to her and complimented her work.

“Your work with clay is the best,” said one admirer.

“I love your stuff,” said another.

“This is the most exciting thing in the world,” said a third.

The exhibit, which includes about 60 pieces, will remain on display through July 26 at the gallery at 136 South Main St. in Jonesboro. She earned the exhibit by winning the gallery’s Juried Art Competition earlier this year.

Fulton said she’s considered herself an artist all of her life, but only began working with clay about seven years ago. Her work has a Picasso-esque feel to them, with exaggerated features and surreal settings. The figures may be made of clay, but they are real people to their creator.

“I told somebody recently that if I wanted something to look realistic, I’d buy myself a good camera and take a picture,” said Fulton. “I do creations not the way they exist, but the way I choose for them to exist.”

One hanging sculpture features a pregnant woman flying on her side between the planets and the sea, with her belly exposed through a hole in her green dress.

“It comes from all of the things attached with bringing a new life into the world,” said Fulton.

Another piece shows a roughed up old man, perhaps in his 80s, flexing his scarred muscles to show how tough he is.

“This is a flipside of the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing,’” said Fulton. “He is a tender soul who is pretending to be brave and tough with a lot of bravado.”

A quartet of nosey neighbors stick their noses through a window to see what’s going on in another piece.

“Everybody should have one of these in their neighborhood, where every time a car drives by, they are looking out the window to see what’s going on across the street,” said Fulton. “They’re just nosey.”

In another, a woman struggles to escape from a box.

“This comes from our society that puts women in boxes,” said Fulton. “They have ideas of how women should be and what women are able to do.”

Fulton also has several pieces of wire jewelry for sale and paintings on display with the exhibit. Each painting is styled to fit in with their 3-D counterparts.

Gallery manager Teri Williamson said Fulton’s exhibit is “one of the more interesting ones we’ve had in a while” because of her abstract visual style. “It’s creative and fun and very interesting,” said Williamson. “Every time you look, you see something different.”

Cindy Thorn, a friend of Fulton’s for 25 years, said she has watched her work evolve through different mediums, beginning with children’s books. She said she and Fulton’s other friends are some of the artist’s biggest fans.

“We had a group of friends who would get together every once in a while and try things and teacher each other new things but Gingerlou has always been more adventurous and extravagant — very extravagant,” said Thorn.

“She has a huge fan club and, personally, I think it’s about time she got some recognition because she’s been creating art all of her life and I’m just excited that she’s getting the recognition I think she deserves,” she continued. “All of her friends have been saving things she’s made for us because we believe, one day, they’re going to be worth something.”

Fulton will lead a wire jewelry-making class for the gallery’s monthly “Canvas and Corks” workshop series July 26 at 6:30 p.m. Registration is $40 and people can sign up for the class by calling 770-473-5410.