April 21, 2015
I arrived at the West Charlotte home during a lull in Sunday evening’s monsoon. I pulled around back, as instructed, next to what appeared to be an outdoor gathering area featuring a mannequin-like statue, which served as a focal point for the chairs gathered around it.
I got out of my car and walked towards the back door, where I was greeted by Andy Fenstermaker, AKA Andy the Doorbum, whose face was painted with black and white vertical stripes, one stripe protruding a bit further down into the center of his long brown beard.
As we walked through his home, we passed several other people: one with face paint. one wearing a headdress, one cooking, one sitting, singing from the floor. The atmosphere was warm, welcoming, creative and eccentric. I was among artists, all of whom were boldly and unapologetically expressing themselves to the world around them.
It’s this outlook on life, the world that ultimately brought Andy the Doorbum to now: his month-long so-called “Art War on Charlotte.”
“Art or die. Create or perish.” It’s a mantra of sorts for Andy.
“[It’s] an encouragement to myself to be more proactive, and to put my ideas into the world and to be fearless about them, and not to worry about what people thought about them,” he explained.
“I started realizing that when I started saying these things out loud, it sort of started becoming encouragement to other people.”
Everyone’s heard the saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Andy the Doorbum is honestly one of the few who’s actually talking the talk and walking the walk.
A call out to friends led fellow artists from across the country to join Andy in his quest to bring art to the streets of the Queen City. The Art War on Charlotte centers around five installments of Andy’s project, the Alien/Native Movement, at Plaza Midwood’s Snug Harbor, where Andy the Doorbum has residency every Wednesday this month, along with a slew of supporting events across town.
The Alien/Native Movement is described as being “indiscriminate”, as it “targets everyone”. According to the introductory lecture, “No perception shall escape it”.
“Life is a war. Art is the weapon. Create or Perish,” the lecture ends.
“This month is just really an attempt to– I was looking around and not seeing what I wanted to see more of in the world. And I felt like I could only sit around for so long and wish that there more of it there before I decided it was up to me to put it there,” Andy said.
The movement is about practicing what he preaches, and encouraging others to do the same.
As part of their artistic war, one of the battles is taken to the streets. I myself have seen Andy and company marching through the streets of Plaza Midwood, complete with other-worldly masks and head ornaments, literally marching to the beat of their own drummer. Having witnessed this display in two drastically different settings, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to see two drastically different reactions. And the Alien/Native Movement has seen their share of response, both positive and negative, all of which, according to Andy, is good feedback.
To some, seeing three people walking down the sidewalk with long black robes and eye-catching headpieces, is extremely jarring. But that’s art, as Andy explained it—the whole point is to get a reaction. For others, the reaction is less shocking, and instead, is a rather eye-opening and reflective experience—a performance that leaves you with the feels.
Each Wednesday night this month, Charlotteans have been witness to conceptually-unique, ever-evolving and mind-blowing visual performances by the Alien/Native Movement, a show that’s definitely left many in absolute awe, and perhaps wondering what in the world they’ve just witnessed.
This coming Wednesday, the movement continues with more from Andy, plus friends Charlotte Capoeira (a Brazilian fighting dance company), local band Miami Dice, Tal National (hailing from Niamey, Niger—and a personal favorite group of Andy’s), along with Jason Michel’s band (who is one of the owners of Snug Harbor) Super Ape.
Next Wednesday, April 29, Andy and resident Monday night DJ for Snug’s Knocturnal, Justin Aswell, who is hailed as one of Charlotte’s best DJs, will debut songs from their brand new collaborative record—a record they hope to follow with a European tour.
While both shows are absolutely free, for anyone who wants to support the cause, monetary donations or supplies are always welcome; Andy has taken the month off work to bring his vision to fruition and is covering expenses out of pocket.
After April’s project, Andy is working on another record, laying down the first-ever English version of an album made by Russian countercultural figure, Vladimir Vysotsky, who Andy described as the sort of-Bob Dylan of the Soviet Union in the 60s and 70s.
We’re also told Andy and girlfriend Sarah, who has been an integral part of the Alien/Native Movement, intend to tie the knot later this year.