Saturday, June 06, 2015

Carolina's Got Art!

Years ago, the Fayetteville Museum of Art had an annual competition for artists from North and South Carolina.  I was fortunate to be juried in several times, and to win awards a couple of times.  Unfortunately, the museum didn't survive the economic downturn of the late "aughts" and had to close.  This year, the Elder Gallery in Charlotte stepped up with a replacement: the "Carolina's Got Art!" competition and exhibit.  One of my paintings, "Returning to Base", was selected for the show.  Last night was the opening, and I went down to Charlotte to take a look.

The Elder Art Gallery is very large, at least for a gallery.  They had a number of sponsors who helped provide the funding to make this show first-rate.  Artwork filled the walls, stood on pedestals, and filled nearly every available space.  I wouldn't say it was salon-style (in which artwork covers every inch of wall space, both vertically and horizontally), because it wasn't, but there was a lot of work.  And what I saw was very, very good.

As you can see, there was quite a turnout for the opening last night.  Seemed like anybody who was anybody in the Charlotte art scene was there.  I saw a lot of artists there as well, which was good.  My painting is way back in one of the nooks, as far back as is possible to go, but what the heck, it's on a gallery wall, so I'm happy.  I saw a number of people taking their time in looking at it.

I also ran into somebody that I hadn't seen in over 16 years.  Julie and her husband were stationed with us in Misawa, Japan, in the late '90's during my last tour in the Navy.  It was good to see her again and spend some time catching up.

Other than Julie, I didn't know a soul there, so I went walking around the gallery, looking at all the art.  There are a lot of really good artists in North and South Carolina and it was great to see such a wide range of styles, subject matter, and visions.  Here are some that caught my eye.

Mark Poteat had one of his "Factory Series" paintings in the show.  It was a really interesting abstraction based on factory shapes: architecture, pipes, cranes, and so on.  He's an art instructor at Western Piedmont Community College.  No web site that I could find, but there are some images on the web.

I'm a sucker for good figurative work, and Pamela Freeman is good.  She had a small, quiet painting of two women in conversation.  Her figures are abstracted a bit, which made them more universal in nature, rather than identifiable people.  And I really liked her paint handling: confident, subtle, nuanced, and beautifully done.

Robert Maniscalco is a portrait artist in Charleston.  He submitted a beautiful painting of an older woman, very strong, well-structured, and well-painted.

John Stennett is an Asheville-based artist.  He had a large, abstract, very atmospheric piece.  Although I'm not an abstract painter, I can greatly appreciate when an abstract is well done.  This one had a calm, quiet, and intriguing presence.

Tyrone Geter's large drawing was, for me, the strongest piece in the show.  It was a mixed-media drawing in charcoal on torn paper, assembled into a striking composition.  Tyrone is really, really good at this.  His figures had immense internal strength and depth.  The torn paper can be a gimmick in other hands, but here it both hid and revealed, which added significantly to the work.  Check out his web site, particularly his drawings, and go see the works in person if you can.

Landscape paintings can be so ... what, overdone, common, bland?  Everybody does them.  However, I was drawn to Joy Moser's landscape.  Really strong and well done, it pulled me in.  And she lives in Weaverville, so I can check out her work around here.

Jeremy Russell is a friend of mine.  He and I studied art at UNCA at the same time.  Jeremy's work spills over with more energy and vibrancy than can possibly be expressed in one sitting.  He had a moderate-sized abstract work that dominated the wall on which it was hung.  And I got a kick out of it: if you know Jeremy, that picture was essentially a self-portrait.

I met the owner of the gallery, Larry Elder.  Very nice guy, very personable.  He and his gallery did a bang-up job with this exhibition.  I'm glad to be a small part of it.

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