Meet the Atlanta Visual Artist Who is Bringing Yeek Back at New Slim & Husky’s Location
Jermaine Clark (a.k.a. Xmaine), 32, has never been the type of artist that mimics styles and or rehashes themes. Even before his brief stint at the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Atlanta-based visual artist and muralist was paving his own path in the art industry.
He remembers the early days when his friends and he would put on the pop-ups of their dreams. Forgoing wine bottles and cheese plates, they designed and sold merchandise while a DJ blasted their favorite beats.
“I just kind of took on the role of entrepreneur and tried to figure out how to make money from my craft and my skill set, doing art shows and trying to get commissions and selling my work,” Xmaine said.
Now, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria co-founders, Clint Gray, E.J. Reed, and Derrick Moore have selected him to produce installations for their first Atlanta location. Around mid-April, the restaurant is slated to open at 1016 Howell Mill Road.
Shining a Spotlight on Atlanta’s Past
Like its Nashville establishments, the Atlanta space will reflect the unique arts scene of the area. In an effort to arouse nostalgia around the early 90s Atlanta hip hop scene, Xmaine is developing a mural that depicts the crisp movements associated with Yeek, a sort of freestyle line dance driven by the bass line of songs.
The craze, which started with groups like Hot Gritz, No Eggz and The Atlanta Dream Team, will be manifested through recreated album cover art on the main dining hall wall leading to the patio at Slim & Husky’s new location.
“What stood out to us about Xmaine was his creativity and bold approach to his art,” Gray said. “He knows how to translate the pulse of Atlanta into a painting anyone can identify with.”
Xmaine said he is honored to help the fast casual pizza brand demonstrate its respect for hip hop culture in the City of Love.
“I’m trying to inspire people around me and just be the best person I could be and make meaningful work,” he said.
A Jack of All Trades
Whether he is painting a canvas or molding clay into a sculpture, Xmaine lets his mind and heart direct his hands. A self-proclaimed visual artist, he uses whatever tool feels right at a given moment.
From abstract pieces to portraits, Xmaine has created it all, however, he draws much of his inspiration from street and urban art. Oftentimes, he gets a feel for new techniques in the street before incorporating them into his studio practice.
“I don’t like to limit myself with the mediums because I just like to create,” he said.
With a passion for making pieces that matter to him, he has attracted prominent brands. Through his art shows of which he has done at least 12 across the country, he was recruited as a purveyor of urban reality for the soda pop giant, Sprite.
As a result of an art show series he developed based around chasing dreams and facing fears, American Family Insurance asked to feature him in their “Dream Fearlessly” campaign. At the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Xmaine was honored for his role in the campaign which ran during the 2015 Super Bowl.
“Artists get kind of caught up in trying to figure out their style or trying to define themselves by their work and I think it should be the opposite,” he said. “The artist should kind of define what the work is.”
He Didn’t Fall Far From the Tree
Growing up, Xmaine never thought of pursuing a career outside of the standard nine-to-five. It was a foreign concept and simply unheard of in his community. Art wasn’t an option because, for much of his adolescence, he didn’t even know black artists existed.
Despite the learning curve, Xmaine persevered and continued to make art he liked, hoping others would like it too. He attributes his work ethic to years of watching his mom, Susan, thrive through multiple sclerosis.
Although she has struggled to walk and see throughout Xmaine’s life, Susan got him and two siblings through college.
“She doesn’t have a lot, but she has her pride,” he said. “She’s so relentless and doesn’t let anything get in her way or stop her from living her life. I think that’s a direct reflection of how I go about my day and how I go about pursuing my dreams.”
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