The first thing you'll notice when you walk into the Pontoon Taproom is a magnificent wall, home to a mural created by Atlanta artist Thomas Turner. His largest piece to date, "Dawn Moon," is a reflection of new beginnings, the change of course, and adventurous journeys ahead. Read more about his inspiration and imagination in our exclusive interview below.
PB: Tell us about your background, where you came from.
TT: I grew up here in Georgia, I actually grew up playing sports - soccer mainly was my go-to. I played all through high school and didn’t find myself creating art with intention until probably my senior year of high school. I’ve always drawn and been attracted to art but never considered myself an artist. It was not a serious path for me until I got my first sketchbook in high school and thats when I started realizing I could devote effort and time into a thought out piece and from there I went through many many many different transformations to get to my style and voice now.
PB: Where did your focus on animals and surrealism come from?
TT: The artist that introduced me to surrealism was Salvador Dali. His art was the first that opened up this world of imagination, to where things don't have to be real or come out looking a certain way and you can create a world according to yourself. And, at the time, I had a lot of crazy ideas about the world. I was somewhat of a poet in my mind, I never wrote them down or anything like that, but inside my head I have a lot of views of life that are illustrated into my artwork. Thats why I create art, because I don't necessarily talk about these views, I can’t even put them into words sometimes, so they come out as these illustrations and paintings. I am attracted to nature because it’s something that I hope remains uncontaminated. I like to view the world that I paint as something that has not been destroyed and has very little human contact.
PB: What’s your favorite animal to paint?
TT: It’s gotta be birds, hands down. I didn’t paint any birds in the Pontoon mural even though they would have fit in, but its was more about the Otters for that one. Birds are my go-to. They’re so prehistoric in their make up and they fly, so they’re free and they have awesome vantage points. Their wings and feathers are just beautiful, so I always go towards a bird. I can put wings on anything, so it’s really more about the wings as well. Wings, especially when they’re spread out, it just looks badass. The basic meaning behind the bird is the power of freedom, exploration. I’ll do research on the symbolism depending on the piece, such as Native Americans and what they attributed to different birds. Every bird has its own meaning according to different cultures, so I pick from a lot of different philosophies. Furthermore, a lot of the symbols I create I come up with my own meaning too. I like to think that my pieces can continue to evolve along with life.
PB: Tell us about how you conceptualized Dawn Moon
TT: So, animals are what I really enjoy painting so when Pontoon came to me with this opportunity it was a no brainer to develop a piece inspired by otters. It actually hit me immediately, I didn’t have to go through many sketches or deliberations for this one. The rebirth of this brewery, and now having your own place to brew beer at now; I wanted to create a piece about that, the new birth, the new direction, the life of the brewery. So that’s why I decided to have a few otter buddies all hatching from this egg together. That’s just where the adventure begins, and we see them on top of this giant box turtle that carries them across the lake into their new adventures wherever they go.
I know otters don’t hatch from eggs but I always use eggs to represent something new, whether it’s an idea or an event like the birth of the universe. The egg is one of a few repeated symbols that I use to tell a story. You’ll also find a moon in there, and so, in my world, whenever I paint that world I call that world Lunaria. In Lunaria every species, every living thing has it’s own moon that follows them around and watches over them almost like a fairy god mother.
PB: To see that connect through your different pieces, all within one realm within your mind. Bringing that full circle just gave us goosebumps, because we’ve seen more of your work so that’s really profound.
TT:Thank you, it’s actually something I didn’t realize until Dawn Moon. After I finished the mural, I went to the brewery and sat down and just stared at it and wrote out Dawn Moon and that’s how that story evolved. And, in writing that, I discovered that this world that I create has a name and this is what happens in this world. So, even though I have already painted it, like the show I did last January (2017) has Lunaria in it, but I didn’t know what it was called until Dawn Moon. So Dawn Moon is the beginning of a new direction in my mind, even though I’ve already started on it. It was really cool to have that experience.
PB: What is your favorite part about this piece?
TT: Even though it’s the main part, I really like the otters, because each otter seems to have his own personality and it’s cool that you have an otter for every stage of life just in those three otters. There’s a young otter pup in who’s super happy and innocent, and then there’s a middle aged otter who has maybe seen some things and is now unimpressed, and is floating through life - he needs some more inspiration. And then, at the front, the old, wiser otter who is looking ahead and now leading the direction for the rest of his buddies. I like that circle of life happening right in that one scene.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
This piece is truly inspiring, and it is even more marvelous to see in person. We are so proud that Pontoon is it's home. And, as you can see below, it's become a fan-favorite spot for a photo op!
Pontoon has one of the largest Taprooms in Georgia, and this wall has become not only our biggest talking point, but a landmark for art culture aficionados. It is our greatest hope that this piece will bridge craft beer enthusiasts and art scene lovers together, forming new bonds and interests in the name of creation.
Check out more of Thomas Turner's art here!
Location + Hours
8601 Dunwoody Place
Building 500, Suite 500
Sandy Springs, GA 30350