In an entirely different venue, Michael Peterson is feeling the same butterflies that he did prior to playing a big game for Georgia Tech.
“It’s definitely the same,” said the former Yellow Jackets cornerback Thursday night. “It actually may be a little bit more nerve-wracking because it’s just me and there’s no team.”
Peterson’s solo act has nothing to do with football or sports. Saturday night at a gallery in the Castleberry Hill district directly southwest of downtown Atlanta, Peterson will have his first individual showing of his artwork.
“I’m nervous because no one’s seen the new work, because it’s my first show,” he said. “It’s been a fun ride.”
My colleague Doug Roberson wrote a story about Peterson’s painting a few years back, as did my good friend and former AJC staffer Michelle Hiskey for the NCAA’s website. Back then, he stuck to portraiture. He has evolved as a painter to a style that he calls “a little less literal and a little more abstract. Not necessarily in thought, but in composition.”
Thursday, he was racing to complete eight different pieces in a studio space he shares with homeless artists (read the stories).
“They’re all right there at 95 percent,” he said. “I’m trying to take it home with the last five.”
The showing will be at the James K. Holder Studio and Gallery from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday. It’s open to the public. Peterson said he met Holder, a Tech grad, through a mutual friend, and Holder invited him to use the space for a show.
After graduating with his management degree in 2011, Peterson was able to take classes at SCAD-Atlanta while playing his final season last fall (not an NCAA violation). He’s continuing classes at SCAD, still under scholarship at Tech, and plans to apply to get into SCAD’s MFA program with hopes of enrolling this fall. He isn’t sure where that might lead him, but he thinks he might want to be a professor.
Peterson’s playing career didn’t unfold in the way he might have wanted, starting two games in his college career, but he has made peace with it.
“I can look back and say, ‘What if?’ but I don’t think that’s the angle I want to take,” he said.
He prefers to remember the camaraderie and friendship he shared with teammates.
“That lasts longer than the four seasons that you played,” he said.
Peterson expected teammates and coaches to attend Friday’s exhibition. He said coach Paul Johnson, secondary coach Charles Kelly, A-backs coach Lamar Owens and staff assistant J.R. Dorman are among those who have supported his endeavor. He remembers telling Johnson after a post-spring practice meeting about his painting, and Johnson told him that there was money to be made in the field, noting he had a few expensive paintings in his home. When Johnson invited players over to his house for a cookout, he showed the artwork to Peterson.
“I took some mental notes,” he said. “I was like, Oh, these are $5,000? I know I can do this.”
It’s coincidental and appropriate timing that on the same weekend that some of his former teammates are hoping to advance their football careers, Peterson is taking a step of his own.
“It’s kind of a great opportunity for all of us,” Peterson said. “We’ve worked hard for the last four or five years maybe to see some payoff in the direction we wanted to go.”
The James K. Holder Studio and Gallery is located on 291 Peters Street, Atlanta, 30313.