Billy Arthur was raised in a very creative household, one that encouraged all forms of hands-on learning. After graduating from Episcopal High, he received a BFA from the University of Georgia and went on to Savannah College of Art and Design for a master’s of architecture. It was in Athens when he first began homebrewing. Both schools he attended offered study abroad programs that Arthur took full advantage of. Studying, creating, dining and drinking in both Italy and France opened his taste buds toward creations in food and fermentation. When architectural work was hard to find a few years back, Eric Luman at Green Room Brewing was kind enough to bring Arthur aboard. He is now the assistant brewer at Green Room and creates both beer and art on a regular basis.
What type of art do you specialize in or prefer to create?
I vary between my architectural, calculated work, and pieces that are more an intuitive search for compositions. Calculated works will be informed by a story, one move logically following the next. The “Guard Chairs” tell the story of saviors painted on gold; impossible Jax Beach guard chairs standing in for Orthodox Christian Icons. I enjoy quick line sketches of found compositions; trees, building and power lines. Large works are a lot of fun, you use your whole body to draw a line and they have a head-start on engaging the viewer. The “Main St. Bridge” painting is 8 feet tall.
How does your artistic mentality play into the creation of beer?
When we design a beer at Green Room, both creative styles are used. Logically crafted beers respond to and complement fresh local ingredients or hop styles. Or we will brew a beer with no real target in mind, see how we can work with and respond to the materials. I also enjoy the temporary nature of the beer, which allows us to make one and move on to the next. I can get stuck in a painting for months.
What is the most rewarding part of creating your art?
If I can create a piece that is honest to the story I was trying to tell, and another viewer also reads a story in it, that’s a good piece. Or if I end up with a piece that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts, 2+2=5, that is a success.
Have you shown some of your work around town before? If so, where?
The “Guard Chairs” hung at the Cummer a year or so ago, and new “Chalkboard Doodles” can be viewed and tasted weekly at Green Room Brewing. Some of my work can also be seen at www.WLArthur.com.
With a busy schedule at the brewery, how do you make time for your art?
I’m up and brewing early, allowing the later part of the day to hit the studio, if I don’t linger in the taproom too long.
We hear you have a garden. What do you usually grow and have you ever brewed a beer with ingredients from the garden?
There have been quite a few herbs and peppers from my home garden as well as “anything ripe on the bike-ride to work,” a lot of fresh citrus and an occasional prickly-pear cactus fruit.
Do you have a particular artist that you admire or use for creative inspiration?
Way too many to name; it’s no fun reading a list. Everyone should go out and find a few of their own, in person, at a gallery, studio or museum.