Friday, December 14, 2012

Birmingham Underground Part 3


by M. David Hornbuckle

Birmingham is rife with subcultures that fly under the radar of most people. In this series, the Birmingham Free Press pulls the lid off this underground world and lets you take a peek inside.


The Red Chair


If you have darker desires, and you don’t know what to do with them, perhaps the Red Chair is where you would turn. The website for the Red Chair says that it is “Alabama’s oldest organization dedicated to meeting the needs of those who choose alternative lifestyles.” Such lifestyles include BDSM (bondage domination and sadomasochism), swingers, and possibly things we’ve never heard of ourselves (being quite innocent, as you know). A spokesperson for the Red Chair admitted that “while the term ‘alternative lifestyles’ is a broader umbrella than BDSM, TRC’s mission is focused entirely on the BDSM segment.” If you aren’t familiar with the term BDSM, this is the lifestyle largely associated with leather, whips, and chains.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the BDSM lifestyle, the spokesperson said. For example: the idea that “BDSM is abusive. I hear this concern sometimes. The core of BDSM is consent.  There is no higher priority for any activity in the BDSM lifestyle.  The opposite holds true for abuse.” Another misconception is that “People that do that stuff were beaten as children/have daddy issues/are nuts in general/etc. I have observed this to be untrue. Do some people in the lifestyle have issues? You bet. Just like some people outside the lifestyle have issues. I’ve found the ratio to be identical.”

A subcommittee of the Red Chair called the Alabama Association of Fetish Friends (ALAFF) holds monthly get-togethers called “munches” at the Books, Beans, and Candles coffee shop near Five Points. At these meetings, members and newcomers can get to know one another in a friendly casual environment. For a part of the meeting, they usually discuss some particular topic that is germane to the alternative lifestyles they promote. In addition to these meetings, they hold educational sessions, parties, and other events for members only.

Members of the Red Chair are serious about their anonymity for obvious reasons. They often call one another by the handles they use on a social networking site called Fetlife, which is dedicated to the same alternative lifestyles as their group.

The Red Chair:
www.theredchair.org
Fetlife:
www.fetlife.com

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Post-Election Spike in Gun Sales

by Ian Hoppe


The fallout from the November elections was, on the whole, somewhat unremarkable. Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats held fast in the Senate, picking up two net seats, and Obama clinched the Oval Office, as I’m sure you are all aware.

There was a momentary dip at market open on the 7th of November. This was an expected market response to a divisive and highly publicized presidential election whose practical impact on the markets were overstated, to say the least.

There were cries from the downtrodden right that this was a huge blow to capitalism and that the apocalypse was imminent, firms across the country reported plans to cut down on hours in order to avoid providing health insurance to their employees, or threatened to raise prices to make-up for one regulation or another. To listen to the media, it would seem that the reelection of President Obama struck a huge blow to American small businesses.

However, there was one sector or the economy that saw an explosion of sales in the week following president Obama’s reelection, gun sales. October background checks, an indicator of future gun sales, were up more than 18 percent in the month preceding the election and Smith and Wesson stock bounced 7.6% on November 7th despite the overall DOW drop of 2.2%. In the Birmingham regional area, sales were way up. Three days after the election, a firearms salesman with a local distributor, who agreed to an interview under the condition of anonymity, told me that company sales were nearly 50% above projected sales and that they were struggling to keep up with the sudden spike in demand. The same thing happened with Obama’s election in 2008 and around the Clinton elections in the 90s, all of this despite the fact that Obama has made only one statement about, and no administrative moves towards, any kind of firearms restriction.  

The Telegraph, The Huffington Post, and (the ever dependable) Info Wars reported on this phenomenon and of course spun it in whatever way they thought would most scare their readership. I however, would like to offer a different account of this phenomenon. One based more on detailed investigation of the event rather than fear-mongering and advertisement sales.

My source at the local distributor told me that this kind of torrent in sales post-election has less to do with the election and more to do with what they called a “feedback-loop at the retail level.”
In years past, there has been a small panic among the hypersensitive gun owners of America who run out to retail stores post-election and want to buy a lot of product. More, in fact, than the retailer has in stock. The consumer then runs around town buying whatever product can be found at the retailers in town and spreading the word of scarcity among other firearms enthusiasts who then run out and purchase everything they can. Of course, we can see that this is artificial, self-fulfilling scarcity.

Before you start judging these folks, consider our collective panic when James Spann starts preaching three inches of snow bearing down on the city. Everyone runs out and buys milk, bread, beer, propane, and condoms. But knowing that everyone else will be buying these things, everyone buys early and in large amounts, more than they need really, and suddenly there is nothing left which causes more panic. This is the same thing but with deadly weapons.

Since this is an expected phenomenon, retailers attempt to get ahead of it by buying everything they can from the wholesalers and the entire process occurs on the retail level, where the retailers create shortage, and thus panic, before anything ever happens! So by the time the election rolls around, the market is in shock and the distribution is unbalanced, which amplifies the alarm, and so on.
What I am getting at is that it is not really panic among consumers that drive this economic phenomenon; it is a reaction to a  reaction to what everyone else will do combined with the fear that if you don’t buy extra product and everyone else does, there may be nothing left and you’ll miss-out on the rush.

Economic events, like most events involving large groups of people interacting with one another, are usually a lot more complicated than they seem at first glance. It’s cheap (with a high payoff) to drum-up fear by reporting that guns are running out to the gun-lovers and that lots more people are buying guns to the gun-haters and then manhandle it to make some larger political point. I’m here to tell you that it’s usually bullshit and we’re all smarter than that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Birmingham Underground Part 2

by M. David Hornbuckle

Birmingham is rife with subcultures that fly under the radar of most people. In this series, the Birmingham Free Press pulls the lid off this underground world and lets you take a peek inside.


Birmingham By Night


Photo by Lachlan Donald

LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. This is sort of a cross between the Society for Creative Anachronism and Dungeons & Dragons. Participants describe it as a kind of improvisational theater with a strategy game element to it. Larping has been around since the 1970s, but it’s had a resurgence in recent years that coincides with the increasing popularity of vampire, werewolf, and zombie stories in popular culture. 

Like D&D, Larps are often based on published games that are customized by a “storyteller” to the particular setting where they will be played. For example, Birmingham by Night is a larp based on the World of Darkness, a fictional universe created by White Wolf Gaming Studio, but the head storyteller James Strader has developed this game so that the city of Birmingham plays an integral role. Strader says, “Birmingham by Night is set up as a political game. Characters use all types of political maneuvering to gain power and control while other players become pawns either willingly or unwillingly to those characters who can ‘work the system’ all the while keeping their supernatural existence from being discovered by normal human beings…We used some real life facts to explain things about the supernatuals of Birmingham like the Yielding family and the McWanes.”

Some local larps like Magic City Nightmares charge fees to play. By contrast, Birmingham by Night is free, although you do still need to buy some books to understand the complexity of the characters you will play and play against. Strader says, “We have the support of Legion; the owner Paul Stewart does not charge us to play there, which is awesome. I have been running larps for a very long time. It is a passion of mine, and I feel that a free game attracts more players and a lot of first time players who would be hesitant because of a pay for play issue. My opinion I guess would be that the books you will need are expensive enough so why add an expense? My goal is to see people have fun and not have to sit at a computer to do it.”

Birmingham by Night:
birminghambynight.weebly.com/
Magic City Nightmares:
www.magiccitynightmares.com
Dragon’s Blaze:
http://dragonsblaze.weebly.com/



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fake Pot Becoming Scarce


by Ian Hoppe

Recently, I’ve noticed the periodic emergence and decline of various blends of the designer drug(s), synthetic cannabis (a.k.a. “Funky Green Stuff,” “K2,” “Spice,” “Haze,” “Herbal Potpourri,” and “Fake Stuff”).

Synthetic cannabis is a product marketed as a marijuana replacement. It usually comes in small plastic or aluminum packages that are often brightly colored and contain anywhere from one to five grams. Most packages are explicitly marked as “not for human consumption.” However, it is understood by everyone involved that the product is meant to be smoked. This disclaimer, just like the disclaimer at the end of alcohol commercials warning not to drink their product and drive, is there for liability purposes. So when the inevitable happens, the company can say, “Well, we told them not to do that.”
That is not to say that these products are (necessarily) dangerous or unhealthy, only that little is known about long term effects among frequent users. Part of the problem in gathering consistent information is the lack of consistency of the products in question. Though the package may be labeled as an “Herbal Smoking Blend,” this is a bit misleading, as is the term “Synthetic Cannabis.” These products are indeed a mixture of fragrant potpourris that are then sprayed with some form of synthesized chemicals. These chemicals only simulate the effect of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol; the psychoactive component of marijuana). It is important to note that these synthetic chemicals are not equivalent to THC in the way they affect the mind and body.

Some users I’ve talked to report a variance of reactions to the product, including intense paranoia and psychosis, especially among users who are prone to substance induced psychotic episodes (see DSM-IV-TR code 292.11). One such user said that, “I wouldn’t even recommend it to someone I hated.” Furthermore, there seems to be some research that indicates chemical dependence among long-term, heavy users, though the withdrawal symptoms mirror those of organic cannabis. This is not the case with everyone, however. The majority of users I spoke to expressed excitement about the products, citing the fact that they are legal to purchase, do not show up on drug screens, are widely available (compared to organic cannabis) at a lower price-per-gram, and offer a different experience than the real thing.

What makes these products designer drugs is their constant bout with legal standards. You see, as these products become available, the federal and state governments scramble to outlaw them. However, given the huge amount of money to be made by their manufacturing, the companies simply synthesize a new “blend” of chemicals that is not (yet) outlawed and rerelease to the public. In April of 2010, The State of Alabama, following up on pressure from the ever-present buzzkills; Partnership for a Drug Free Community, outlawed the sale of both Salvia Divinorum as well as a couple of synthetic blends with the passing of HB697. This legislation, however, was limited in its scope and only outlawed a couple of the possible blends. This meant that it was only a couple of months until the products appeared once again in head-shops and adult stores in the state.

Not to be outdone, in July, the Federal Government passed The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 as part of a larger bill expanding the authority of the FDA. The legislation places five of the known synthetic cannabis blends as well as other designer drugs, including the infamous “bath salts,” into section I of The Controlled Substances Act. As a result, the availability of synthetic cannabis has dwindled as suppliers regroup and find alternatives to bring to market.

This recent onslaught of legislation and enforcement on the state and federal level has caused a bit of a chilling effect among the distributors in the area. Most have either stopped selling any similar products, making them available via request only, or requiring that the purchaser sign a sheet alleviating the seller of liability. I did speak to a couple of shop employees and owners, all of which requested to remain anonymous, who told me that the restriction on their sales was mostly fallout from their distributor’s reluctance to sell in the state. Two of the local head shops that I visited have ceased selling any kind of product that may be construed as illegal presently or in the future. Another had a kind of herbal tea “pain reliever” available for purchase, in both tea-leaf and capsule form. Querying one of the employees only returned reassurances that it was legal and very different from the synthetic blends we’ve seen lately.

For the economically minded, it is understandable that this chilling effect has had a fairly significant effect on prices. As I mentioned above, some of the users I spoke to mentioned the price of the products as a major driver of preference for “the fake stuff” over organic weed. When the first generation of synthetic hit the market (i.e. pre-HB697), the prices were roughly half of street prices of real marijuana ($10-12/g. vs $20-24/g). Given the recent legislation and restrictions on the market, and thus supply, users estimate that prices have increased around 50% and continue to rise. This still puts these heavily restricted blends lower than the real stuff, with the burden of risk entirely on the distributors. Given this dichotomy, I think we can expect prices to rise to at or above the street price-per-unit of its canonically illegal substitute to compensate for this risk.

It is unclear to me whether or not this product offers enough of a different experience, higher availability, and/or low enough long-run price to sustain itself underground. At the moment, it seems as if these synthetic cannabis blends will eventually be outlawed in all of their forms or at least regulated and enforced so heavily that the costs of manufacture and distribution outweigh the prospective revenue. It is then, I think, that the masses will return to their beloved marijuana, decrying the brief tryst with her test-tube sister.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Birmingham Underground Part 1

by M. David Hornbuckle

Birmingham is rife with subcultures that fly under the radar of most people. In this series, the Birmingham Free Press pulls the lid off this underground world and lets you take a peek inside.


The Celtic Music Scene


Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band
photo by E.T. Brown
On a Wednesday around lunchtime, two bagpipers stand in front of the Highland United Methodist Church playing “Auld Lang Syne,” and a crowd of people are gathering around the fountain to listen. One of them is Ryan Morrison, Pipe Major and de facto leader of the Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band, of which this is only a small sample. The other piper is Pipe Sergeant Jeff Jones. The full band has a dozen pipers and seven drummers (Morrison’s wife Sherry plays the bass drum). Several of the onlookers take Morrison’s business card. He plays a lot of weddings and funerals. The ISMPB also frequently performs with the pub band Jasper Coal, of which Morrison is also a member.

The last Sunday of every month, you can find Morrison among a large group of other Celtic musicians at Black Market Bar in Five Points. This is the Celtic Session, an open jam session where Irish and Scottish musicians gather together to play traditional songs. “People come from Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Auburn,” Morrison says. “And there are also sessions in those cities that we all go to.” He says there is a certain protocol to how the session goes, but new people catch on quickly. Members of popular local Celtic music groups like Jasper Coal and Henry’s Notions often come to participate in the sessions. Musicians at every level are welcome, and many people show up just to watch and listen.

Both the pipe band and the Celtic session are sponsored in part by the Caledonian Society of Alabama, a group that is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Gaelic culture in the state, largely through music. Ian Sturrock, the namesake of Morrison’s pipe band, was one of the founding members of the organization. The Caledonian Society also hosts four events every year, the biggest of which is their Burns Supper in January, celebrating the Scottish poet Robert Burns. At this event, the pipe band performs and members eat traditional Scottish food while reading selections from Burns’ poetry, including his “Address to a Haggis.”

Caledonian Society:
www.alabamascots.info
Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band:
www.ISMPB.com
Celtic Sessions in Birmingham:
Bhamsesh on Facebook



Friday, May 25, 2012

Save the Black Warrior with SweetWater: June 1-July 7

For Immediate Release:
May 23, 2012

Contact:              
Charles Scribner, Executive Director, Black Warrior Riverkeeper: 205-458-0095 or cscribner@blackwarriorriver.org  
Francesca Zeifman, PR Manager, SweetWater Brewing Company:  404-691-2537 or francesca@sweetwaterbrew.com  

Save the Black Warrior with SweetWater Brewing Company
Annual Campaign with Black Warrior Riverkeeper in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham: June 1 - July 7

Birmingham/Tuscaloosa –SweetWater Brewing Company is launching its annual “Save the Black Warrior” program, which has raised more than $35,000 to date to support Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s water protection efforts since the partnership began in 2008. Save the Black Warrior takes place at participating Tuscaloosa and Birmingham restaurants and bars beginning Friday, June 1 through Saturday, July 7.

Throughout the program, people in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa can visit their favorite watering holes and purchase “paper fish” for $1, $5 or $10, or a Save the Black Warrior T-shirt, helping raise awareness and funding for river protection. To see the list of participating establishments and learn other ways to help, visit www.savetheblackwarrior.com. This website also features an online contest to win an Arc'teryx jacket donated by Mountain High Outfitters, who is sponsoring Save the Black Warrior along with H2 Real Estate.

SweetWater organizes “Save the Waterways” collaborations with other Waterkeeper Alliance organizations in the Southeast, including French Broad Riverkeeper, Mobile Baykeeper, Neuse Riverkeeper, Charleston Waterkeeper, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, St. Johns Riverkeeper and Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

Last year, SweetWater launched Waterkeeper Hefeweizen, an unfiltered ale created specifically to bring awareness to the Waterkeeper organizations, their mission, and their “Save the Waterways” campaigns.  The brew will hit draft taps across the Southeast later this month.

“2012 is particularly exciting because Save the Black Warrior coincides with our nonprofit’s 10th Anniversary,” said Charles Scribner, Executive Director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  On June 6, SweetWater is providing the beer for “Cruisin’ on the River,” Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s 10th Anniversary event on Tuscaloosa’s Bama Belle Riverboat.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Davey Williams and the Improvised Book


by M. David Hornbuckle


For about thirty years, Davey Williams been at the forefront of improvisational music, playing alongside such revered avant garde performers as John Zorn and Eugene Chadbourne, jamming with Colonel Bruce Hampton, and raving it up with punk bands like Fuzzy Sons. He started out in the business playing traditional blues and R&B. He was guitarist for blues legend Johnny Shines and then went on to perform with an R&B revue show. He began the recording/performing project Transmuseq with LaDonna Smith in the 1970s, and he has collaborated with Smith on many projects since.

Last year, Williams took his improvisational skills to the medium of print. In line with his philosophy of performance and composition, he didn’t know what kind of book he was going to set out to write when he started. He only knew he was going to write a book, and so he sat down and started typing.

What resulted was Solo Gig: Essential Curiosities in Musical Free Improvisation. The book comprises short pieces, reflections on the nature of improvisation as it relates to music or to anything else in life, as well as reflections on what it means to play music in the first place. From time to time, that narrative is interrupted by a story about a man named Carl, the novel Williams is writing in an alternate universe. He tackles topics like “What is Musical Free Improvisation?” and “Musical Abstraction Debunked” and “Dislike of Musical Noise Explained.” Each of these topics, Williams addresses in a one or two page streams of consciousness that lace zen-like nuggets of wisdom with comedic one-liners.

For example, in the chapter called “Concerning the Clumsy Assertion of Ego,” Williams writes, “Deliberate upstaging is irritating, especially to your fellow players, not to mention the audience, unless you’re upstaging yourself during a solo. In that case you are free to blow yourself off the stage, so to speak.”

Despite a narrative pretense that he’s making up the book as he goes along, much the way he composes music, readers will probably be happy to know it has actually been edited. Williams told the Birmingham Free Press that though he initially didn’t know what he was going to write about, he said, “It didn’t take long before I found the voice of the Davey Williams that is reading the book to you. Soon, I had a lot of material. I showed it to some friends, and they told me I needed to cut about half of it out.”

Eventually, Williams says, “the true analogy between playing music and writing breaks down.” That narrative device serves as a way of commenting on the nature of improvising. He says, “As a writer, I’m interested in easy-to-read writing about difficult arguments about impossible subjects.”

After the first round of editing, Williams found out that improvisational saxophonist John Zorn was publishing a magazine called Arcana. Solo Gig was initially published in Arcana IV.

However, that vesion was still a great deal different than the book verstion. “When I saw it in print,” Williams says, “I realized that anybody could tear holes in this argument. So then I did that when I rewrote it. I tore holes in it.” In the final version, the Williams explores many facets of what it means to improvise music, and he also added illustrations.

Williams approaches drawing with the same technical precision and aloof humor that you find in his prose and his music. His one previous book is a collection of jokey cartoon illustrations titled, Which Came First: The Fried Chicken or the Fried Egg? The illustrations in Solo Gig are more abstract, sometimes surrealist, with captions like “At any rate, you won’t make much music if you get run over by a train.”

Solo Gig is available at some area bookstores. You can also buy it directly from Williams if you happen to bump into him at Crestwood Coffee, or of course at an actual solo gig.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Newspaper Helps Homeless

Here's an article I wrote months ago presenting the Birmingham Voice. They have since begun publishing and are holding an event tonight from 7-10 pm at Woodrow Hall. 

Featuring  Brian Voice Porter, King G Da Infamous, Doug Out, Elizabeth Ross, Adrian Gunn, and so many more.

Go have some fun and contribute to a good cause.

-Lee

By Lee Waites

You’ve been in this situation before. You see the man walking toward you, thrift store shirt, tattered pants, a look of purpose. You try to pick up your pace. But even though he doesn’t seem to hurry his pace, he somehow gains on you. You’re trying hard not to make eye contact, while he tries just the opposite. He wants to engage you, make you see him, make you aware of his situation, the plight he finds himself in. He gets closer and closer, he’s going to head you off. He’s going to get you!

You shuffle through the responses in your mind, “I left my money in the car. I don’t give money to strangers. Why don’t you get a job and leave me alone. (Go back into the shadows so I don’t have to know you exist!)” He gets to you. You half grin, half grimace, a response that doesn’t faze him in the least. He’s gotten them all before. What do you do?

This part is a little different, a new phenomenon on the Birmingham streets.

 Here’s what you do. You pull out a dollar and buy one of his newspapers. No. Don’t worry. It’s not me. Our newspapers are free, although I might get the same response from some of you.

This man’s not handing you a Birmingham Free Press. He’s selling the next exciting thing to hit the Birmingham print market, the Birmingham Voice (BV). The Birmingham Voice, due to hit the streets sometime this Fall, is going to be a unique voice for the city of Birmingham. It will be written by, staffed by, delivered by, edited by, and sold by Birmingham’s homeless population. Either former homeless people or those currently living on the streets will handle all the day-to-day activities of the paper, giving them well-needed structure, a sense of usefulness, and potentially gainful employment.  

William Boyd, the Editor and Chief of the Birmingham Voice, has a lot of hope for the potential of the paper. “The Birmingham Voice is Birmingham’s best opportunity to empower the homeless community,” he says, "to perpetuate its own economic development program and create jobs.”

 Along with the paper’s publishers, Ryan and Hope Schumacher, Boyd has been working on the start-up for a long time. Launched with seed money gathered by the Birmingham Coalition for the Homeless and Micah’s House, it is their hope the paper will become self-supporting in a short time. There will be all the things any other paper would have: comics, a food section, what they’re calling “editorial reflections,” opinions, and ads. The paper is intended to be a monthly tabloid. They will also include content on issues important to lower income families. 

Although the main focus of the paper will be Birmingham’s homeless and former homeless population, Mr. Boyd says they will be accepting submissions from other writers as well. “Things that are interesting and engaging for our readers.”  The bottom line is it’s going to be a newspaper.

For questions or submissions contact William Boyd.  email: William@thebirminghamvoice.com
Mail Submissions to the Birmingham Voice. PO Box 55019, Birmingham, AL 35255 or call 205-578-1808

Monday, January 16, 2012

Artopia

by Anne Conway


Each morning I pass a certain piece of street art that makes me smile. Among the boarded windows and brick-laden buildings, this art, unexpected and seemingly out-of-place, gives way to a smile on my face. Some months after I began noticing this piece, I met the artist, Rob Clifton. I won’t say any more about this particular piece because, as it’s street art, he could potentially get in trouble for it. Still, I thank Clifton for this moment of cheer in my morning, and now I know it’s not the only color he brings to our city’s canvas.

Clifton’s hope is that his art brings something positive to our city. Clifton inspires his audience to look outside of their normal domain. “If you begin to pay attention to the little details in life, such as fire escapes and waterfalls, the untouched areas of life begin to emerge,” says Clifton.

His work portrays a myriad of subjects inspired by all aspects of life. “I always try to see the beauty and fun in life, because if you reject the time to recognize these opportunities, then you end up clouding what is really important.” Clifton renders naturalistic images to create simplified shapes and iconographic designs that weave into his “fine, post-psychedelic, illustration.”

One could say surrealism transcends reality in Clifton’s art. If you ask him to paint a portrait, you might get a picture of “someone in cupcake purgatory.” His work is often inspired by his dreams, a “personal connection” to his soul. Clifton’s sensitivity to dreams allow for his subconscious to become reality with pictures of altered dimensions.

A love of music also inspires Clifton’s creative process. Playing the saxophone since grade school, Clifton has always been a performer. Fusing performance and painting, Clifton displays his talents on stage at Bluprint Birmingham. A collaborative performance merging DJs and artists, Bluprint provides Clifton an opportunity to paint live. The audience’s vibe helps shape the painting and the music determines his next stroke on canvas.

His innovation and careful attention to details helped form Artopia, an art show that features emerging artists from our Magic City. Created by Clifton, Andres Sanchez and several other UAB art students, Artopia is an art show that “challenges the conventionalism of the traditional art gallery by merging different styles with live music and performances.” The show’s September debut offered a collage of media and expression. These youthful artists bring their talents to the public with a mix of cultural, societal and religious ideas. The next show will do the same, giving Birmingham a reason to love the culture that art and music bring to our city.

Clifton uses his talents to help Birmingham’s youth as well. At Space One Eleven, a nonprofit visual arts gallery, Clifton teaches children who may not otherwise have access to art classes. With his own classwork sometimes growing stagnant, Rob is able to enjoy the fun and creative side of art. Clifton enjoys watching the children grow and is inspired by their capability.

Look in a different place on your way to work and you may spot Clifton’s art. An unexpected piece of street art, an innovative art show, a live painting-Clifton creates art for our city. Art that gives the ability to “take a break from the goings on in society.”

Cheers to you, Rob Clifton.