When I saw this year’s exhibition sponsored by Art Nouveau Winston-Salem, I was taken aback by its sparseness. On view through October at the Milton Rhodes Center’s Womble Carlyle Gallery, it consists of only two mixed-media installations and one sculpture, leaving most of the gallery as dead space.
This is the fifth show in an annual series organized by this affiliate organization of the Arts Council for local adults under 40. The group’s primary missions are to encourage interest in the arts among local citizens in this age group, and to support emerging artists in their 20s and 30s. The 2015 installment showcased works by 10 artists.
To create one of the installations, titled “Metamorphosis,” Meredith Connelly crumpled lots of white tissue paper and somehow attached it together in the form an amorphous white cloud, which she internally illuminated with a yellowish hue. A long strand of ornamental blue plastic tubing with tiny, illuminated bulbs inside is irregularly looped and tangled in and around a hole in one side of the glowing cloud.
The exhibition’s centerpiece is a more elaborate, sprawling installation titled “Change,” jointly created by Leatha Koefler and Brenda Brokke. It takes the form of a giant-size, circular bird nest that surrounds and incorporates the gallery’s central concrete column. About 12 feet in diameter, the nest has an outer ring composed of sticks and twigs, most of which are spray-painted black, white or either of two shades of blue.
On the floor inside the ring of painted sticks and attached to the concrete column are several dozen paper cutouts of flying birds. Some are painted blue, while others are painted black and the rest are unpainted, revealing that they’re cut from topographical maps of places in North Carolina. Also inside the ring are several smaller bird nests; two softball-size, feather-covered orbs and three ersatz eggs, each about the size of an ostrich egg and painted gold (in one case) or predominantly blue.
Other components of this installation include more paper bird cutouts and a white-painted, uprooted, leafless shrub. They’re suspended from the ceiling and — in the case of the additional cutouts — attached to the inside of the building’s front windows. This piece is thematically related to the previously described, cloud-format installation in that it also represents a form of metamorphosis — from nest to egg to flying bird.
Koefler and Brokke play a different, if more obvious, variation on the theme with their compact, freestanding sculpture “Nest Egg.” Another faux egg — painted gold and much larger than those in their installation — is encircled with several rings of glued-on pocket change — pennies, nickels dimes and quarters. It sits upright in a proportionately small nest atop a carved limestone block.
After pausing long enough to look at and think about these three pieces, you’ll probably be left wondering when the rest of the show will be installed.
Creepy show at Delurk
Delurk Gallery celebrates Halloween this month with its featured exhibition “Necro Nectar,” a three-artist visual meditation on the seasonally appropriate theme of necrophilia — an attraction toward corpses. It’s installed in the gallery’s rear alcove. The walls have been painted black for the occasion.
One of the artists, Dane Walters, has established a local reputation for painting dark-hued portraits of rotting corpses — imaginary ones, of course, but creepy nonetheless. Some of his subjects look human, but their flesh invariably appears to be rotting and gradually liquefying. Others look like alien beings in similar conditions. What makes them especially horrific is that they all seem to have some life in their glowing eyes. Six such portraits make up Walters’ contribution to the show.
The artist known simply as Les III is showing a modest group of 10 small pencil sketches, all but two of which depict skeletons, a Halloween-imagery staple. His other two drawings suggest excerpts from a horror story. In “Reaching” a young man stands beside a woman holding a lantern that eerily illuminates the scene, including a hand reaching up from the lower left. In “Ripe for Picking” a dark hand grabs a hapless young man — perhaps the same one — presumably signifying his early death.
Lye Lawrence, the show’s third artist, is exhibiting works that include a drawing of a skeletally emaciated, extensively tattooed humanoid with his head replaced by a dog’s skull. Its idiosyncratic title is “Wendigo devours wikipedia.” Otherwise Lawrence’s contribution to the show consists of six small digital prints in a more cartoonish style, all depicting vaguely humanoid beings with grotesquely deformed bodies.
A few additional works by these three artists are displayed alongside the gallery’s reception desk, where they share the main room with pieces by other Delurk regulars, including Chad Beroth, Holland Berson, The Patrick Harris, Jack Hernon and Jennifer O’Kelly.
Light getting in at Artworks
I suspect that “The Light Gets In” — the title of the current show at Artworks Gallery — is a nod to Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter whose “Anthem” includes the memorable lines, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Light, of course, is essential to visual art, so the phrase is broadly applicable for such purposes. In this case it applies to an exhibition of drawings by Taylor Hayes and photographs and other photo-based work by Kimberly Varnadoe.
Hayes’ contribution to the show consists of 13 straightforward drawings of buildings or parts of buildings in which she has lived at one time or another, along with a smaller drawing that looks like part of a mapped street grid. Among Hayes’ subjects are apartment buildings, a townhouse, several porches or decks and a detail from the Sawtooth Building, where Hayes works as marketing manager. Most of the drawings also include stamped, upper-case letters from the word “HOME.” Most of them also carry fairly long-winded titles, such as “we leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place.”
Varnadoe is represented by 25 photographs and related pieces centering on subject matter that includes landscapes, portraits and close-up views of plants. Her most ambitious works are three black-and-white Rocky Mountain landscapes from a series that pays homage to Ansel Adams. While most of her photos are representational, she is also showing 10 small Polaroids reminiscent of intimately scaled abstract-expressionist paintings, with amorphous yellow-tinged blobs on black backgrounds.
Also included in Varnadoe’s portion of the show are a collage of informal Polaroid portraits and a mixed-media scrapbook, both artifacts of her recent guest residency at the Black Mountain School, a newly established, experimental art school in Black Mountain.