Sorrow: a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others. Sorrow is not a feeling that people generally treasure. However, many times, beauty does rise from ashes. It’s in the pain that we can find who we are, and who we should be. Such is the case with local artist known as Sorrow.
Many artists use pseudonyms, pen names, or aliases. Reasons include identity clarification, perhaps the artist has a common name that gets lost in a google search, or their art is controversial and/or illegally displayed and they want to hide their identity. Another reason, as inthe case of Sorrow, the artist prefers the art itself to carry the message and garner all the attention while they remain in the shadows.
But why ‘Sorrow’? The artist explains, “I chose the pseudonym Sorrow because it seems like a broken heart and contrite spirit is shining through most things I make when I reflect on them after I am done. I have grown to be comfortable in this state of mind and don’t seem to have much trouble expressing it. Sorrow, loneliness, and brokenness I can do, but other feelings I don’t express too well; they don’t come out of me easily.”
The name wasn’t just pulled out of a hat. It was birthed from a broken heart. Sorrow didn’t always paint. He used to spend his spare time deejaying on the weekends, and coaching soccer. But deejaying left him unfulfilled and the relationship with his teenage son, Alex, was
lacking. So, when a friend invited him to church he went. He found peace in prayer and began praying often. Most of those prayers were for his son.
Alex was living with his mother at the time and, when he wasn’t playing soccer, he was on his skateboard. School was out for the summer and he and his friends were spending their evenings at the skatepark. It was late June 2011 when the unthinkable happened. While at the skatepark an altercation between Alex and a peer escalated. It was late at night when the call came in. Fifteen-year-old Jason Alex Wheat-Canava had been stabbed multiple times and was in intensive care. His parents got 5 more days with him before he passed. Days that they were grateful for.
What does a parent do after something like that? Well, our artist put up a strong front for his daughter and Alex’s friends. He continued to coach soccer and was strong for the team but found that everything annoyed him. He kept his head down and pressed on, coaching and playing soccer, that is, until he got injured.
This injury put him out of work for three weeks, three long and lonely weeks to get lost in his thoughts. This idle time weighed heavy on him. He needed to occupy his time, so he started to teach himself how to use Photoshop. As a fan of street artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey, he began researching their work and developing his own ideas to create black and white images in Photoshop. Being pleased with the results, he decided to start making his own stencils in Bansky style and set up his garage as a studio.
He found himself spending all his spare time in the garage painting on any materials he can find just to stay busy and focused on something positive. He found that painting was great therapy. “I found healing in the process. Creating art is my psychiatrist. Making things, my family, and my close friends keep me going. Without any one of those things not in place I might have lost it a long time ago. I feel blessed,” he said. “Prayer was my number one weapon against depression. Through prayer I have been led to this art and somehow it has all just clicked into place for me. Prayer led to art, art has led to meeting people, meeting people has led to my art to be shared more and that has forced to me into being a little more sociable.”
All this time spent painting worked great for therapy and depression defense, but his house was filling up with paintings and room was running out, until a friend came over and suggested he start showing and selling his art so that he could walk through his house again.
His public art exposure began in Ganache Cupcake Lounge. Owner, Amber Schacter, allowed him to hang one piece. This is where “Sorrow” was born. He was displaying his art for the first time and didn’t want to use his real name. His art was his escape and wanted it to have its own identity. That first piece sold immediately. He was surprised that he sold a $500 piece in Wichita Falls. As more spots came available in Ganache he started adding more pieces to fill the gaps until only his art was in the place. Since then, Sorrow has shown at the Kemp Center and 922
for Art & Soul in 2016 where he sold several pieces.
The latest change in Sorrow’s art career is moving his studio downtown. Through mutual friends, he and Matt Bitsche of Wichita Falls Brewing, worked up an idea to bring art into the brewery. This led to Sorrow not only displaying pieces at the establishment, but also painting a large mural on the side of the building. And the relationship didn’t end there. Now Sorrow occupies the majority of the second floor with his art studio.
“For a few years I just painted in my garage alone after I got off work at my day job. Painting is a very lonely business. When I became hooked up with the brewery it has really pushed me out and made me to be more sociable, and for the good of the art and the brewery business, I have
abided. I am grateful for that because I really needed to spend less time in solitude and socialize more. These days my primary schedule is get up, go to the gym, work 8-5ish, go to brewery and socialize, go upstairs to the studio and work, come down and socialize then go home, and sleep. I like this schedule,” explained Sorrow.
Sorrow juggles multiple projects at once. Among those projects are more pieces for the brewery, a large piece for John Houston’s building (The Citadel), and some possible future exhibits. “I always have multiple projects going at once. I get bored easy. For now, my agenda is to help my city. I was born here and lived here all my life. I believe that downtown is the heart of every city and it needs to have a strong pulse. If I can use the abilities I have been blessed with to help bring more people downtown to support the local businesses, then I need to keep my focus here and use this opportunity I have been given to give back. Downtown businesses are primarily owned by Wichitans, and the more money spent downtown is the more money that stays in this local economy. My plan is to continue to work behind the scenes to promote a vibrant downtown that people will want to come and visit.
Closing words from Sorrow: Special thanks to these supporters of the arts who have always helped me and kept me from falling off the grid: The Lord, Wray Williams, Robb Stephenson, RC & Linda Taylor, Jonathan & Jasmine Smith, Amber Schacter of Karat Bar/ Ganache To Go, Kemp Center for the Arts (Carol Sales & Kristine Thueson), Dane Rodriguez at Stone oven pizza, Matt Bitsche & Russ Reynolds at Wichita Falls Brewery and everyone who has took time to visit my exhibits – Thanks!
Fb page is @therevolutioncompany & IG is @sorrow.nkjv