By Susan Brown
CHAPEL HILL – For four days, a vacant space in downtown Chapel Hill will be transformed into an art gallery and puppet theater for area residents and arts lovers to enjoy. Tarish Pipkins, also known as the master puppeteer Jeghetto, will take over 109 E. Franklin Street from Friday, April 12, through Sunday, April 14 with a display of his work and a variety of puppet shows. This event is a collaboration between the artist, Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture, and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.
Pipkins, a self-taught artist and Chapel Hill resident, is well-known for his work in a variety of visual art media, including murals, paintings, and video. He is perhaps most known for his puppetry, an art form that he has taken to a new level and brought to new audiences. His puppets include famous figures ranging from Amy Winehouse to Frederick Douglass to Durham rap artist G. Yamazawa. Pipkins has performed extensively and in a wide variety of venues, including the National Folk Festival and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. He frequently teaches workshops throughout the country to inspire the next generation of puppet artists.
At the Pop Up Gallery, a variety of his puppets and other art works will be on display. The community is invited to come see the art and stay to see the artistry of a Jeghetto’s puppet mastery. There are shows on Friday and Saturday that appeal to all ages and shows on Saturday and Sunday that are geared toward children.
Pipkins says that opportunities like this give him the chance to show off his work, new and old, to the community he calls home. He notes, “ I am asked to take my art to places all over the country, so I am thrilled have the chance to let Chapel Hill see what I’ve been up to recently.” Pipkins says he will have a variety of pieces on display and that people that only know him for his puppets will be able to see the breadth of his work in other forms as well.
Susan Brown, Executive Director for Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture, says that this is part of a series of pop-up arts experiences designed to meet an unmet need for more arts events in downtown Chapel Hill, despite a lack of dedicated arts space. “This series allows us to show off a great local artist, activate a vacant space, and create an engaging arts experience downtown.” The event also coincides with UNC Arts Everywhere, an initiative to activate campus and campus-adjacent spaces with arts.
The hours for the Pop Up Gallery and each day’s puppet shows are:
- Friday, April 12 from 6-9pm with a 7:30pm Puppet Show
- Saturday, April 13 from 2:30-8pm with a 3:30pm Children’s Show and a 6:30pm Puppet Show
- Sunday, April 14 from 11am-5pm with an 11:30am Children’s Puppet Show