Move From The Heart Of Texas Brought Much More Than Expected For GTCC Art Instructor

Published on: March 30, 2021
Artist and GTCC art instructor Doug Cason

Doug Cason fled the heat of Texas two-and-a-half years ago for the more temperate climate of North Carolina, all the beauty the state has to offer and a position in Guilford Technical Community College’s Creative and Performing Arts Department.

“The temperature in Texas was just too much. When this position opened up, I came out here and fell in love with it,” Cason said of his trip to interview at GTCC.  “I went back and spoke with my wife and said this is a move we need to make. I told her how many waterfalls there were within an hour and that’s what sold her.”

Little did he know that it was a move that was going to make him a mural artist in high demand.

Cason teaches a full schedule drawing and painting classes, but he’s an also an accomplished artist, and “as a practicing artist I wanted to get connected to the community quickly.”

In a bit of serendipity, Cason connected with Greensboro developer Marty Kotis, who has made murals part of his brand; many of his properties wear colorful paintings. It had been two decades since Cason painted a mural, but Kotis quickly put him back to work.

“When I showed Marty my portfolio, he said he had ‘never seen anything like that’,” recalled Cason. “He gave me the first mural I had in 20 years. Then I got another one, then two more.”

It isn’t always easy to sandwich the mural work into his workload at GTCC – this semester he is teaching three studio courses and two lecture courses – but he figures a way to make it happen. Like he did recently in Greenville, South Carolina, when he went from preliminary drawings to a finished mural in a matter of days.

“The owner of a building decided he wanted a mural to cover up what was there. My gallerist that rents a space in the same building said, ‘I know a guy.’ I turned (the drawings) around in two days. They asked me on a Sunday, I basically worked on it (drawings) Wednesday and Thursday; they approved it Friday, I drove down on Sunday. I worked two 12-hour days and a 13-hour day to get it finished,” said Cason.

Cason said he is “mostly a studio painter” and has pieces in museums and collections all over the country, but the pandemic has helped create a demand for mural art.

“It’s perfect for right now with the covid climate. It’s a great way to still show my artwork and connect with people,” said the 50-year-old Cason, who moved to GTCC from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. “I know how art buying goes; when you make a connection with someone, they want to buy. This is great networking.”

Murals are nothing new to Cason. Even though he had not completed one himself in more than 20 years, he was part of a mural movement in Texas, which eventually helped him complete the circle back to larger-than-life art.

“I knew it had been a strong and growing. When I was in Texas, I was a co-chair for the Texas Arts and Music Festival,” said Cason. “I had the idea of bringing street artists in to paint on the back side of buildings downtown and it went over well. I was the co-chair for four or five years. Watching people paint on walls, well, I got the bug.”

Cason believes the GTCC campuses are ripe for murals, and had one planned before the onset of Covid.

“I’ve been trying to bring it in for students … I actually had (a mural) set up for a couple of students to do and then Covid came along. We’ve got a big green wall sitting there ready to start,” said Cason. “We definitely have all discussed it … starting to put murals inside the stairwell and on interior walls.”

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