Humans have known about metal and used it for thousands of years. It can define objects as different as silver tea services, nails, bridge abutments, supports of buildings and kitchen appliances; it is a mainstay of sculpture and fashionable jewelry.
The exhibition at Light Art +Design touches on many aspects of this remarkable material especially as it has been recycled into art objects.
The arts are alive and well in the Triangle and the next few months offer wonderful ways to spend the cold months. Jazz enthusiasts are going to love Duke’s Nasher Museum exhibition of Archibald Motley’s jazz age paintings, which will open here and then travel around the country. And Durham Bulls’ baseball fans will revel in the N.C. Museum of Art’s “Bull City Summer,” a photographic documentary by 10 photographers of the 2013 Durham Bull season.
In 2013 the visual arts in the Triangle covered the spectrum. Time, love, activist Indian art, a feminist Kenyan-American, Doris Duke’s Shangri La and Porsches were just a few of the artistic wonders woven into the cultural fabric of the Triangle. The museums organized and hosted these shows and each in its own way added to our rich local art scene.
At the N.C. Museum of Art one arrow points to the Brian Ulrich show and the other to the Porsches. The comparison is stark; in one, we celebrate conspicuous consumption with no consequences and, in the other, we witness the gluttony in the marketplace and its inevitable collapse.
“Mother Russia” conjures up images of great writers; vast expanses of unbelievable cold; royal courts with tsars and tsarinas, the peasants or serfs, who were little more than slaves; the psychic Rasputin; the assassinations of the last tsar and his family; and the people’s devotion to the Eastern Orthodox Church. All this is part of the mystique surrounding this exhibition of more than 200 decorative and religious objects, which date from the first Romanov, Peter the Great (1672-1725), to Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last.
Two painters and two traditional commercial galleries; it is the way art used to be all the time. Lynn Boggess creates landscapes; Beverly McIver, people. Both slather oil paint on their canvases; the signs of their hands are everywhere. Boggess’ marks become streams, trees, and land. McIver’s become pigments of skin where certain colors show worry and others sparkles of joy.
Big Brother is watching us; never mind that George Orwell’s “1984” (written in 1949) was a work of fiction about a society that used technology to enable an oppressive government to monitor and control its citizens. Today “1984” seems too close to the truth to be comfortable.
The cars are gorgeous; they are displayed on platforms with large screen videos. Above and below are text and photographs that include the interiors, the rear-end motors and the designers. They could be in any sort of venue, but for this show, they are in our Museum of Art and so the questions keep coming up.
Just down the hall from the gallery of Mort Künstler’s Civil War paintings is an original copy of the 13th Amendment, the constitutional amendment that outlawed slavery. One is the perfect accompaniment for the other and visitors to the museum will get a first-rate history lesson about the bloodiest single conflict in all of American history.
The female nude in art elicits all sorts of responses. On one hand the classical nude, fashioned in marble, is a work of art -- no question. On the other hand, however, the nude in a photograph takes on the feel of reality.
Photography is everywhere and because our phones put a camera in our hands, we may not understand its relationship to fine art. It happened in the middle of the 20th century; the art world began to include photography as an equal partner in the hierarchy of fine art.
The new show at the Ackland Art Museum is not the conventional exhibition with paintings on the wall and sculpture on pedestals. In this show the galleries are full of posters, signs reproduced on burlap, a motorized rickshaw, on-site photographs and lots of videos. This is pop art, that is the art of the people, and it speaks out against injustices in India. This is art by Indians about the freedom of expression in their own country. These are voices against secularism and censorship. Much of the art focuses on the enmity between Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims.
“Transformation: The Art of Charlie Lucas,” Outsiders Art and Collectibles, 718-C Iredell St., Durham, opens Sept. 25, and a farewell announcement from the gallery owner, Pamela Gutlon.
"Truth to Power: Communicating Messages of Social Justice through Visual Art," Pleiades Gallery, 109 E. Chapel Hill St., through Sept. 15.
Shangri La conjures up eternal youth and paradise in some exotic location. On more earthly grounds, in 1937 Doris Duke (1912-1993) built a house near Diamond Head in Honolulu with her first husband, James Cromwell, named it Shangri La, and decorated it as if it might have been built by a Sultan who lived in 15th century Spain or 17th century India.
What a fall for the visual arts this is going to be. The art is exotic, Islamic and Indian; the art is all about design, the Porsche; the art focuses on photography and its influence; and then there is this promise of a new venue for a fabulous collection.