Since the American Revolution and before, when North Carolina was a British colony, the state’s governors had their own old boys’ network and their wives were the first ladies. That changed when Beverly Perdue (2009-2013) was elected to office. She broke the glass ceiling and became the state’s 68th governor and the 28th one to live in the Governor’s Mansion. Experts on protocol had to rename the category of the governor’s spouse and so her husband, Robert Eaves Jr., became the first gentleman, and from now on, the spouse of the sitting governor will be referred to as first spouse.
This spring, art in the Triangle is a fascinating assortment of themes that consider ideas about time, love, the magic of electronics and installations by Wangechi Mutu, to name just a few. In her first major solo exhibition in the United States, the star show will be the Nasher’s presentation of Mutu, a Kenyan-American, internationally renowned, with exhibitions from Canada to London to Paris. Her concerns are the violence visited upon women, especially black women in the contemporary world. She also tackles issues pertaining to globalization through her Afro-futurist lens. Mutu is a major artist; having her art here is a coup for the Nasher and the Triangle.
Several years ago I began my Blue Award to the person in our area that has done the most for art during the year. This year it goes to Gov. Beverly Perdue. On her way out of office she saw to it that the Polk property, adjoining the N.C. Museum of Art, was transferred from the Department of Cultural Resources to the museum’s foundation. In this way, the foundation will be in charge of developing the property, holding land leases on all the development into perpetuity, with all funds going for the support of the N.C. Museum of Art.
Collaboration is a generous act; two or more artists work together leaving their personal egos behind and create a new work of art that blends their ideas into a new depth. This collaboration was the brainchild of photographer and teacher Barbara Tyroler, who floated it to five of her colleagues whose work she deeply respects and who show regularly at Frank Gallery.
Two exhibitions, about collectors and their collections, the “Contemporary Art Collection of Jason Rubell” and “The Cone Sisters and Matisse,” are currently at the Nasher Museum of Art. Among the many messages in these exhibitions is that art collectors come in many variations. There are those rich enough to buy the top of the line, like a Monet or Picasso, and those who buy young unknowns trying out new ideas. Some are mature women, like Etta Cone, who bought the developing Matisse, and then there is the teenager Jason Rubell (born 1969).
Cher Shaffer, a 70-year-old from western North Carolina is an Outsider Artist of a different stripe; she is white and female. African-Americans outnumber white Americans in the genre we call Outsider Art; women are almost non-existent. Outsider artists are those who are self-taught and draw upon their life stories, their religion and popular culture to make highly personal objects.