Daryle Halbert remembers listening to a lot of jazz in graduate school; it is music that has stayed with him and influenced him.
“Even though I grew up in the ’80s with a lot of hip-hop, I still like jazz,” Halbert says. “When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who would allow us to listen to music, but basically the only thing he would allow us to listen to was jazz. It brings back fond memories of being in the studio with my colleagues, taking courses and listening to jazz.”
Knowing this detail about Halbert’s life, however, doesn’t affect the appreciation you sense in his artwork. His subjects are catered towards Southern culture, including jazz and blues music and agriculture, and you sense that he could paint a picture of jazz musicians without ever hearing a note of their music. That is the type of talented, motivated individual he is. And his dedication has earned him the position of artist-in-residence for the city of North Charleston for 2015-16.
In this role, Halbert will cover a lot of territory both in and out of the studio. His paintings will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery, he’ll provide artistic services to a multitude of people and places within the city limits, and, perhaps most importantly to him, he’ll participate in educational outreach programs helping young students and seniors recognize the possibilities of art.
“I want to get out there and be an artist who serves the community, not just an artist who goes into a studio to paint,” Halbert says. “I think that the arts is a way to educate and I like that I’m out there showing kids, showing seniors, that the arts can be very effective when it comes to informing people.”
Originally from Detroit, Halbert grew up listening to his grandmother and grandfather talk about the culture of the South, specifically the folklore and the music that pervaded the region at the time and continues today.
“I was fascinated by some of the stories (my grandfather) used to tell me,” Halbert says. “The stories about some of the South, some of the heritage that, growing up as a Northern kid, I felt there was a disconnect. These stories struck an interest in some of the imagery I started to paint in and still paint in today.”
Halbert’s paintings capture the feel and history of a bygone era — the juke joints, the jazz clubs, the tradition of the blues — and are rendered with equal amounts of nostalgia and interpretation. Halbert may not have grown up in the South, but he is an observer and an artist who seeks to tell stories.
“It’s all about stories,” he says. “I’m interested in storytelling. I always wanted to put those stories that he and my grandmother told me into imagery.”
Additionally, Halbert carries with him the responsibility that comes with being one of the first of his generation to be able to attend college. It’s an opportunity that he understood to be a worthwhile endeavor for his career.
“When I told my grandfather I wanted to go to college for art school he gave me the craziest look, like, ‘You’re the first to go to college and you want to go to art school?’ ” Halbert says with a laugh.
But Halbert’s art, his storytelling, makes a worthwhile contribution to the community of North Charleston. And artist-in-residence is a position that would make Halbert’s grandparents proud of his achievements.
Art teachers and school liaisons can request free services from Halbert by contacting the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at 843-740-5851. Community groups can also submit requests, which will be considered on a first-come first-served basis. All project requests should be made at least two weeks in advance, with residences completed by the end of May 2016.