Art can be a powerful voice against evil, social injustice and corruption.
Marvin Saltzman (b. 1931) and I have known each other more than 35 years. We never met in the classroom, however; he was teaching studio and I was studying art history. But since I have been writing about art, we have spent many hours discussing the state of art in general and his art in particular.
Two shows as different from each other as found objects are from archival papers ordered from Japan are about to close. At the Scrap Exchange are the small tabletop sculptures by Christopher Kearney. At Light Art + Design are works on paper by Ippy Patterson and Leigh Suggs. Check them out if you can. In any event not only is the art a treat, but each gallery has important business news to report.
Chances are the camera Frank Myers uses is a direct descendent of one made by Kodak and, if not the camera, then his film is. Myers’ show of local musicians performing around the Triangle is all about the local jazz scene and the non-profit Art of Cool Project. The Kodak references have been fueled by an exhibit at the Center for Documentary Studies on the role the Eastman Company played in putting a camera in almost every hand in the country.
Lisa McCarty, the 2013-14 CDS exhibitions intern, mined a cache of advertisements from the Wayne P. Ellis Collection of Kodakiana and the J. Walter Thompson Company Domestic Advertisements Collection, which are part of Duke’s collection of Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, to put together a fascinating story about invention and advertising and how a costly and unwieldy pursuit of image making was turned into an inexpensive and easy matter.
Two men and a gift of more than 480 works of art; this is the heart of the new exhibition at the Ackland Museum. Joseph F. McCrindle (1923-2008) amassed hundreds of art objects during his lifetime and gave them to large and small institutions all over the country, including the Ackland. Many were given because of personal friendships.
It was one of those pretty summer days when the temperature had not soared into the 90s and the downtown Chapel Hill art scene beckoned. I began my visits at the Horace Williams House where Cici Stevens has mounted a show of small found objects. From there I moved uptown to Frank Gallery and a group show of drawings and prints and then across the street to the Ackland Museum Store where they were putting the finishing touches on a pottery exhibit which would open in a couple of hours.
Play ball! It is that moment when the teams have taken their positions on the field, the pitcher winds up and the game begins. It is summertime in Durham and for 72 days the Triple A Bulls will play at home to big crowds, folks who love baseball and all the fun and hoopla organized around it.
The summer of 2014 has also turned into a Durham Bulls museum event. Last year, 10 photographers were commissioned to document the 72-game season. It was the 25th anniversary of the best all-time baseball movie ever, “Bull Durham.”
Hillsborough is less than 30 minutes from Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh and is a destination with a vibrant art scene, good food and a nationally famous auction house; on the fourth Friday of the month, its downtown takes to the streets. Although we have missed May’s excitement, the galleries are open and the exhibitions invite a visit.
Three women artists hone in on the figure at the Eno Gallery.
Molly Cliff-Hilts paints seascapes with small figures enjoying the beach. Alicia Armstrong also paints vast spaces, probably near the ocean, with one or at most two strongly defined figures, who seem involved in fantasy happenings. Tinka Jordy sculpts female figures out of clay; they are substantial forms and fit in with nature rather than stand outside it.
Damian Stamer (b. 1982) is into nostalgia, not just with his images, but the way he paints those images. His canvases are filled with dilapidated barns and sheds buckling under debris. The surfaces are blurry, hazy and sometimes spotted with what seem to be droplets of rainwater. He insists we see things he remembers from his childhood or things that are slowly deteriorating in front of his eyes. And we must see them as he does, in the fog of memory. In the gallery handout, he writes about returning over and over to his past, that there is comfort in familiarity. “Time passes slowly as things fall apart,” he writes, and painting is the only way to describe these places, which he confesses exist more in his mind than on earth.
It was the spring of last year. The idea was impossible: Find a young energetic curator to help identify 100 American contemporary artists whose art is exceptional, but have no national recognition; borrow their work and mount a one-of-a-kind exhibition that draws from every region of the United States. The show will open at Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas, on Sept. 14. They found their curator, Chad Alligood, a 29-year-old with super art credentials, and by July 9, 2013, he was on the road.
East of Bentonville, in Durham, in October last year, Jeff Whetstone opened his computer and found a message from someone at Crystal Bridges asking if he would be available for a studio visit in the next few days. In a telephone conversation Whetstone and I talked about that visit. “I have lots of studio visits and I had heard about Crystal Bridges so we fixed a date and after thinking about it, I decided to show my weirdest stuff, so I pulled out photographs and a couple of my videos.”
With shiny new MFA degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in hand, nine graduates have mounted their final exhibition. The nine -- Ben Alper, Michael Bramwell, Isabel Cuenca, Minjin Kang, Cody Platt, Meg Stein, Lile Stephens, Antoine Williams and Connie Zamorano -- have each mastered one or more of the techniques of painting, sculpture, print making, photography or video and have chosen to use their medium of choice in innovative and unusual ways. They were putting the finishing touches on their work when I visited the gallery.
There are a lot of people who love Durham and North Carolina, but no group is more enamored of our area than photographers, and the Will Grossman competition has been organized to encourage that love. This year’s theme was “People, Places and Things in North Carolina.” All photographs must be made in the state. Beyond that rule, the artists could interpret those guidelines any way they wanted.
There is an image of Mickey Mouse, with a skeletal body and his gloved hand poised like a gun. There is a Sun-Maid raisin box, labeled “Sun Mad” with the image of the girl on the box changed to a ghastly skeleton. There is a portrait of Cesar Chavez with the Nike swoosh emblazoned on his cap. And there is a sweet 15-year-old dressed in her coming-of-age finery. These are just some of the images by the 44 artists in the exhibition “Estampas de la Raza.”
It is becoming a habit, working the art scene in downtown Durham. This past week I was back at it and Cynthia Aldrich’s exhibition of still lifes in three dimensions started me thinking about the genre and some of its history; it also sent me on a still life search in other galleries. A still life is usually a picture of inanimate objects; they are still. Sometimes a dead animal or cut flowers are included; the animal no longer moves and the cut flowers will quickly die.
Art is not simply paintings or sculpture worked in traditional media or even photographs done in the most complicated digital imaging available; art is all of those things plus beautifully crafted wood boxes that hold landscapes made of layers of paper, pieces of machinery that rotate by sensor, filament that falls in space like controlled fire or a documentary about modern-day Afrikaners who see themselves in post-South Africa apartheid as victims.
The Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh is hosting the 15 winners of the 2013 N.C. Arts Council Artists Fellowships and the work is strong, creative, new and smart.