Visual Arts Reviews for the IC: NCNC at SECCA

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Arts In View: Visual Art Reviews from Island Ford Art

North Carolina New Contemporary at South East Center for Cultural Arts

Just to keep you on your toes, we decided to visit one of the exceptional galleries we neglected to mention in our last column.

The South East Center for Contemporary Art, SECCA was founded in 1956 as a nonprofit art exhibition space. Since 1972 it’s been located at the 32 acre J.R. Hanes estate at 750 Marguerite Drive in Winston-Salem.

If you want to make a day of it, SECCA is next to the Reynolda House of America Art, Reynolda Village, and a few blocks from Wake Forest University. SECCA incorporates the original Hanes English style mansion with 20,000 sq ft of open gallery space, a 300 seat auditorium, and state of the art building systems to provide the region with a first rate exhibition space of national stature.

There is room for a wide variety of sculpture, large scale, and interactive pieces in the larger spaces and standard works in the small intimate space within the original mansion, or on the beautiful grounds.

Since 2007 SECCA has operated under the umbrella of the NC Museum of Art which means the facility can be maintained and best of all, admission is visitor donations.

The Current Exhibition, North Carolina New Contemporary, runs from October 8, 2010 to March 13, 2011

This show is supposed to be “underground” North Carolina artists. There are only a couple of problems with that: a couple of them used to live in NC and the term underground just don’t mean what it used to.

The fact that the work is being exhibited in a gallery with national stature suggests they may have come up from the depths and into the open arms of the establishment.

Let me give you a couple of pointers on visiting shows like this 1) Don’t  read the artist’s or curator statements before you take in the visual. Statements only serve to “tell you what to think about the art.” We want you to have your own reactions. 2) This show has evolved from “street art”, aka graffiti, so it has an interesting mix of “lowbrow” and “highbrow” imagery. Enjoy it as a pop culture “mash-up”. Sorta like those restaurants that server Mexican-Chinese food.

Darren Goins makes art from a wide variety of materials, from the standard, painting and printmaking and combines it with other media like glitter, neon and industrial foam. They are “eye candy” lots of bright colors and frantic visual movement.  They echo, in their color use, to contemporary Japanese prints, but Goins marries those to western abstract art.

If you look carefully at a number of works, you will see shapes and patterns that repeat, suggesting a language of sorts.

Hieronymus Schofferman’s small works are notable for their intimacy. They have the quality of random doodles that lead to intensely worked imagery. Schofferman’s larger work presented here is visually muddy, lacking the striking graphic quality of the smaller pieces.

James Marshall’s large untitled mural is problematic for me, because it’s been “done” by artists like Sol Lewitt and Gerhardt Richter’s hard edged abstractions. This doesn’t mean its “bad”, it simply didn’t work for me.

Brian Mashburn’s work on the other hand, is an interesting mix of flat shapes intermingled with atmospheric landscape. It has the effect of creating a push-pull of illustration and fine art technique. These paintings evoke stage or film sets awaiting action, or the next scene of a continuing story. As a side note, the paintings with figures would be just as effective without the inclusion of people.

I love Taiyo la Paix work. It is comic book fantasy writ large. I may not agree with his stated reasoning for creating the work; but it is beautifully rendered and exquisitely composed.

la Paix combines several art genres with the soft pastel colors associated with Asian design. Illustration and a sometimes unique point of view create a snap shot candidness to the paintings. In his way, if not in subject matter, this work echoes Toulouse Lautrec’s paintings of the late 19th century.

Gabriel Shaffer uses elements of Native American iconography and blends it with a style very specific to the “underground” And therein lies my issue with the work. It may not bother people who aren’t familiar with the style, but mentally I couldn’t move beyond it to see the work clearly.  In other ways, these works echo more mainstream neo expressionist painters like A. R. Penck and Georg Baselitz. The surfaces are thick with layers of color and texture; covered with primal glyphs.

The paintings may not have thrilled me, but I was drawn to the pyramid created from recycled metal, wood and iron.

Sean Pace’s sculpture reconfigures recognizable objects; salvaged pianos, motorcycles, arm chairs into mechanical objects.

One piece, Power Struggle, consists of a series of arms made of welded rusty iron which seemingly crawl across the floor wielding a shotgun and a sword. At the top sits a large Kotte lamp. This spotlight serves as a focused eye, looking through a series of magnifying glasses floating around the “head”. Each lens examines a small plastic zoo animal held delicately at the end of an alligator clip.

Mathew Curran’s mixed media work consists of a series of heads created in spray paint on wood panel. The interesting thing is it has all the qualities of a massive pen and ink drawing or wood block printing. The “marks” made by the spray paint are so linear and precise; you are drawn to both the image and the method.

Mathew teams up with Derek Toomes to collaborate on Deus Ex Machina a billboard sized wall mural utilizing imagery from the film Metropolis.

Overall, the show was nicely cohesive. With a little effort, you get a strong sense the similarities in color, style and presentation echoing back to the artist’s street roots. Go and spend some time with the work, you will find something you like. We promise.

If you want to see more of a particular artist’s work, visit our web site. We will provide links to websites featuring each artist at Piedmont Foothill Venues

We’ll see you there!

Visual Arts Reviews for the IC: Hidden Treasure

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Arts In View: Visual Art Reviews from Island Ford Art

Hidden Treasure

Every time I hear someone suggest we lack a local visual arts scene, I’m reminded Dorothy’s moment of revelation just before she finds her way home. When she’s asked what she learned from her adventures, she replies: “…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

In terms of our local arts resources, I agree with her. There are a number of good local venues that can be reached by car; most of them in under an hour.

So, what we want to do is briefly introduce you to these hidden treasures. Then you can take the time to explore them for yourselves.

It took us a while to find all the treasures in our area. While they don’t always have work of the size and scale you might find in, say, MOMA or the National Gallery, the work in these local galleries more than holds it’s own in terms of craft, relevance and content. So, if you are planning to make a day of it, find a good local eatery and enjoy at your leisure.

In future columns we’ll be talking about the work and the shows presented at these venues, but first we wanted to help you become familiar with them. We’ll also provide a little background and basically present an overview what’s available. At the end of this column you find a web address with links to the galleries. At the links you should find information on current and upcoming shows; along with operating hours. And their pages will also provide directions.

In Statesville, we have the Iredell Museums. Located on Court Street in the heart of downtown; this building is part of the historical “Bristol Block”. The Iredell Museums is an umbrella organization which covers both the Iredell Museum and the Children’s Museum. They feature a good variety of contemporary arts and contemporary crafts, traveling shows and regional artists and artisans.

In Mooresville, the Mooresville Artist Guild features local and regional artists, member shows and juried competitive shows. The Artist Guild is housed in the Old Mooresville Train Depot in downtown Mooresville.

In the northern part of Iredell County is the Hiddenite Center; housed in a restored 3-story Victorian Lucas Mansion. They are part local history, part art and history gallery, with a featured doll gallery on the 3rd floor along with various art classes.

To the west is the Hickory Museum of Art, which is part of the SALT block. Also featured in the SALT block is the Catawba Science Center and the Hickory Coral Society and the Western Piedmont Symphony and the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library. The Museum also has classes for children and adults.

A bit further west and north is the Wilkes Art Gallery in North Wilkesboro. In 2004 they moved into the original North Wilkesboro Post Office, in the heart of downtown North Wilkesboro. They have a beautifully renovated space that houses regular exhibitions and a variety of classes.

The city of Salisbury features the Waterworks Visual Art Center, housed in the renovated McCanless Motor Company showrooms. In 1999 Waterworks was accredited as a non-collecting museum by the American Association of Museums. It is one of only 14 nationally accredited museums in the state. Personally, we rank it as a world class museum. It is a beautiful facility and the shows are top notch.

Davie County is home to Brock Performing Arts Center in Mocksville. In addition to an excellent performing arts center, the Brock Performing Arts Center features visual arts exhibitions by local and regional artists along with juried competitive shows.

Mecklenburg County has a wide variety of arts venues. Our favorites are found in Davidson in Davidson College’s Van Every/Smith Galleries. In addition to exceptional exhibitions by well-established individual artists, in the Van Every Gallery, the Edward M. Smith Gallery features work from the students in the art department.

The Mint Museums are focused individually on fine arts at the Randolph and fine crafts and design at the Uptown location. The Museum at Randolph was originally the first branch of the United States Mint and in it’s incarnation as a museum, the first museum in North Carolina. The exhibitions are noteworthy and their permanent collection houses some hidden gems of their own.

The McColl Center was built in the renovated shell of the old ARP Church from the vision of Hugh McColl and the financing of Bank of America. In addition to exhibitions from cutting edge artists, the McColl Center established a series of artist’s residencies along with outreach and education.

With the venue information out of the way, now you can meet your tour guides:

Walt McGervey has Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture. He has taught various classes in art history and fine arts classes at university and at regional visual arts centers.

Karen Parker has a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Painting. She works out of her studio and has instructed in painting, drawing and design classes at all levels for over 20 years.

For more information on the venues featured here go to:

Stephen Wiltshire: Gallery of Drawings

Stephen Wiltshire has autism. He also has the ability to view a cityscape once and then recreate it by drawing it, in scale, using only his memory as a reference.

His work can be found on his Web Page.

I can honestly say his drawings are amazing. But are they truly creative? Or is he merely making a detailed record of something he has seen? Technical proficiency is different from creativity. Both are admirable.  But true genius requires both in some measure.

From a physiological standpoint, I find it interesting that the brain records this information and it is available at any time for examination. This occurs in everyone, even people without autism. There are people, like Jill Price, who are perfectly normal people excepting their ability to remember literally detail of their lives.

Eventually we may discover a way to “switch” the ability on and off at will.

Should I be thrilled or horrified at the thought?


A JJ Sempe Cartoon

A cartoon by JJ Sempe

A cartoon by JJ Sempe