On a typical summer evening in Savannah, artist Cal Wood and I had dinner at Moon River Brewing Co. — a place of his choosing. Over Build Your Own Burgers, a Lowcountry crab melt and sweet potato fries, Wood and I delved into his purpose, his art, and his journey. Surely, even with a full table, we would run out of food long before we ran out of conversation.

Within moments, I became aware of why he had chosen this place in particular. Not only is it a staple in Savannah, but it is also home to some of Wood’s amazingly crafted art. There will be plenty more on display at his upcoming exhibit, “Transition: From One To The Next," at Savannah State University.

Born Calvin Thomas in Wrightsville, Ga., Wood was inspired by how his mother, a migrant worker/field hand, managed to raise him and his siblings as a single parent — a feat that even today resonates with Wood and pushes him forward.

“There are unexpected moments in one’s life that are truly defining and life changing. In 2005, after my mother’s death, I was inspired to start my life as an artist. Needless to say, my life changed forever. Later that year, when I finished my work of art, I knew at that moment, I had found my life’s passion as an artist,” Wood said.

Now, 13 years later, Wood is ready for the world to know his story as he prepares for his first solo exhibition.

“This is a preview of my 10-year retrospective show in 2009. It's a collection of ones from my first show to ones from the most recent paintings I've completed,” said Wood.

He continued, “I am on the board of Friends of African American Arts at Telfair Museums. During a board meeting last year, we were discussing what we wanted to do for the following year. As a way to engage FAAA members, we visit sites that focus on African American art and culture throughout the year.”

According to Wood, FAAA is a member engagement group that focuses on African American art and culture at Telfair Museums. Wood sought to connect with Savannah State University, a historically black university.

“After that lengthy discussion, I overheard Professor Eric Clarke, assistant professor of art, mention he had two slots open on the gallery's calendar for the upcoming school year. He wanted to invite two local artists to exhibit in the campus gallery. I jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity,” he said.

When speaking with Wood, his zeal is evident. He is tenacious and ambitious, qualities that manifest themselves in his work. With his opening reception at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23, Wood is inviting Savannah into his life and, more importantly, into his soul.

Wood says his art is “nonrepresentational, modern, abstract expressionism.” Needless to say, there is something for everyone.

 

IF YOU GO

What: “Transition: From One To The Next” by Cal Wood

When: 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23; on display through Sept. 21

Where: Kennedy Fine Arts Building, Savannah State University, 3219 College St.

Cost: Free

Info: facebook.com/calvinthomaswoodumart