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!

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