Arts

'Intersection' exhibition open at MU's McCune Art Gallery

11 Intersection 1Methodist University has a decade-plus reputation for presenting unique exhibitions at one of Fayetteville’s premier art venues — the David McCune International Art Gallery. So, it’s no surprise that its fall exhibition will be both unique in presentation and experience for the audience.

Opening at McCune, located in the Bethune Center for Visual Arts on the MU campus, the free exhibition titled Intersection will be open to the campus community and public until Dec. 1. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday each week (except on MU holidays). The gallery follows all campus safety protocols related to COVID-19. For more information visit https://www.methodist.edu/

“Like all of our shows, this one will feature amazing artists and their works,” said MU Professor of Art Vilas Tonape. “But it will also be very unique in that it will lead the guest to an experience of appreciating not just the similarities of the art being presented, but also the differences. It’s truly an intersection, where people will visit the gallery from all walks of life and enjoy both commonality and differences. All are welcome and will enjoy this exhibit.”

Intersection will feature the works (which are for sale) of Andréa Keys Connell, Zhimin Guan, Sondra (Soni) Martin and Winter Rusiloski. Each has presented their works both nationally and internationally and hold positions as instructors at institutions of higher learning.

•Rusiloski: Investigating abstracted landscapes for 20 years; more than 30 juried exhibitions around the world since 2016; paintings in public and private collections; an assistant professor of Painting in the Baylor University Department of Art and Art History.

•Martin: Extensive commissions, grants and awards; works in private and corporate collections; expertise in studio arts (sculpture, printmaking, painting) and contemporary art theory; a professor of Visual Art at Fayetteville State University.

•Guan: Featured in more than 200 professional exhibitions, including 20 solo shows; pieces in permanent museum collections in the U.S., China, and Singapore; a professor of Art at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

•Connell: More than a dozen solo exhibitions; featured in numerous publications; taught workshops on figure sculpting at craft schools; an associate professor of Ceramics in the Department of Fine Arts at Appalachian State University.

“This unique selection of artists brings paintings and sculptures together in an exciting way that allows the viewer to contemplate multiple dimensions and medium’s ability to play with the intersection between landscape, figure and ground,” said Connell.

Each of the artists — and certainly Tonape, the curator — have an appreciation for the gallery, which has had numerous successful exhibitions that featured artists such as Warhol, Chagall, Rodin, Picasso, and most recently, Rembrandt. The University, Division of Fine and Performing Arts, and gallery also showcase exhibitions of work from MU students, faculty, staff and local artists.

“I’m very excited to be a part of such an outstanding exhibition in a stellar international art gallery,” said Rusiloski.

Tonape knows the quality of the art being presented, and offering that would certainly be successful in itself, but he was purposeful in his efforts to bring artists and work that would resonate with students.

Intersection showcases many perspectives and diversity of work, which is perfect for a liberal arts university,” he said. “We have classes for painting, abstract painting, ceramics and sculpture, and the students can see how these forms of art can work together and also be very different … they can see the show and at some level, realize they either pertain to their study right now, or they will in the future.”

All similarly in one place, but all undeniably unique, the fall exhibition at the McCune Gallery at Methodist University is truly an “Intersection.”

For more information on the exhibition or Methodist University visit https://www.methodist.edu/.

Pictured: The Intersection exhibition features the work of four artists: Winter Rusiloski, Soni Martin, Zhimin Guan and Andrea Keys Connell. (Photo by Gabrielle Allison)

Cape Fear Studios will host reception for new exhibit Aug. 27

9 Barton5Cape Fear Studios will host an open reception for its latest exhibit on Aug. 27 from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit highlights the eclectic paintings and sculptures of Barton Hatcher.

Growing up on his grandfather’s farm in Bladen County, Hatcher began using his artistic and creative talent when he was only six years old. A self-taught artist and mixed media sculptor, Hatcher’s work is infused an elevated sense of style and pays playful attention to unexpected details. Aa an avid gardener and fly fisherman, Barton draws inspiration for his artistic designs from nature itself.

Fans of Hatcher’s art see a transcendent quality, earning him a state-wide following. He has been able to showcase his talent in several North Carolina galleries. On occasion, clients have commissioned Hatcher to create custom art designs that draw from their individual tastes and desires. His work is in several private art collections from North Carolina to New Jersey.

Following his life-long admiration for nature and the outdoors, Hatcher owns and operates Gardens by Barton, a landscape design business based in Wilmington. In business, Hatcher uses his artistic talents to create uniquely tailored gardens, including building hardscapes such as arbors, trellises and garden patios.

Before he started that business, Hatcher worked for Cape Craftsmen of Elizabethtown for more than 30 years where he served as an art buyer and designed and built prototypes for furniture. Through the many years of designing furniture and home décor, his art has evolved into the style today that he refers to as “contemporary abstract.”

Whether it is furniture, sculpture, gardens or canvas, Hatcher’s passion for creating rich, thoughtful and extraordinary designs saturates everything he touches.

The Studio’s workshops and retail section will also be open to visitors during the free public reception. The Studio is located at 148 Maxwell St. in Fayetteville. Hours of operations are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information email artgallery@capefearstudios.com, call 910-433-2986 or visit www.capefearstudios.com.

Pictured: Cape Fear Studios' newest exhibit features art by Barton Hatcher. (Photos courtesy Cape Fear Studios)

10 Barton1

New theater season brings something for everyone

09 CFRT Untitled design 1Local theaters in Fayetteville are back and ready to entertain the public with their upcoming season schedules full of new and exciting performances. With a mix of comedy, drama, mystery and musicals — there is something for everyone.

Cape Fear Regional Theatre
Cape Fear Regional Theatre will kick off their 60th season with six shows, starting with one of the world’s most successful rock ‘n’ roll musicals – “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” from Oct. 14 until Nov. 7.

Set in the 1950’s, the show tells the story of a young man from Texas with big glasses and big dreams catapulting to the top of the rock ‘n’ roll charts. The show will feature Holly’s popular songs like “Peggy Sue,” and “That’ll Be The Day,” along with “La Bamba,” and celebrate the man whose music and values were ahead of his time. It will be directed by Suzanne Agins, who also directed CFRT’s productions of “Dreamgirls,” “Memphis” and “Mamma Mia.”

“We’re super excited about that, it was a part of a previously planned season but we didn’t get to do it until now,” said CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke.

Next on their list is the 30th anniversary production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” BCPE follows a group struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant while faced with casting the Herdman kids who are probably the most inventively awful kids in history. For local theater-goers, this is a traditional holiday fix. CFRT’s Education Director, Marc de la Concha, will direct the show which runs Dec. 3-19.

The third show in the season will be “The Wizard of Oz,” a must-see for fans of the book, movie or original musical. Audiences will go on the journey with the classic characters of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy, and her little dog as well.

The show will be directed by Tiffany Green, who previously directed “Shrek: The Musical.”

“Next, a smaller play that’s unfamiliar to a lot of people but is fantastic called ‘Welcome to Arroyo’s,’” said Burke. “It’s like a hip-hop coming of age story that takes place in New York.” Audiences can look forward to DJs/narrators spinning the story in a comic heartfelt piece.

“Welcome to Arroyo’s” is written by Kristoffer Diaz and runs March 10-27, 2022. The production will be performed with audience seating on stage.

The fifth show in the line-up is “Clue: On Stage” directed by Burke herself, based on the best-selling board game and movie adaption. Audiences will join Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, and other colorful guests for this hilarious murder mystery. This show will also be performed with audience seating on stage.

CFRT will end their season with “The Color Purple,” directed by Brian Harlan Brooks. The show is based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The musical follows a woman named Celie, her heartbreak and despair, until her friend Shug helps her realize her own self-worth. Celie uses her flair for fashion to build a better future. The show features jazz, gospel, blues and African music.

The musical, like the book and the film adaptation, is a story of resilience and a testament to the healing power of love. The show is being produced with support from The Junior League of Fayetteville and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Other than our Christmas show that happens every year, the rest of the shows depend on what’s happening in the world, what we think the community would love,” Burke said. “Sometimes we cast them based on conversations with the creative team that have done the show before.”

For more information on shows or to purchase individual or season tickets, visit https://www.cfrt.org

Gilbert Theater
The first show of Gilbert’s season will be “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Musical,” which runs Oct. 1-17. The story follows two con men, a beautiful woman and the elite of the French Riviera who will collide in a sexy and irreverent farce.

“It's about con men and money and the upper crust of society and trying to swindle them out of money,” said Gilbert Theater Artistic Director Lawrence Carlisle.

Next, “The Carols,” a returning crowd favorite. The Christmas themed musical will play weekends Nov. 26 to Dec. 5 and Dec. 17-19. The show features the Carol sisters struggling to put up their annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” but there is a shortage of men due to WWII.

“We’re excited to be doing this again, it’s a really good show, it’s funny and not enough people got to see it due to COVID,” Carlisle mentioned.

The third show of the season will be “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” a dark comedy and thought-provoking work by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. The play follows Judas in purgatory where he is on trial. This show will run Jan. 28 through Feb. 13, 2022.

Carlisle said he hopes “Judas Iscariot” will be the show everyone talks about because it’s weird and reflects how the intent of theater is to entertain people.

Following that, the season will present “Othello,” adapted and directed by Montgomery Sutton. The show will run March 25 through April 10, 2022, and will tell the story of a powerful general of the Venetian army, Othello, whose life and marriage
are ruined by a conniving, deceitful and envious soldier, Iago.

Gilbert is currently the recipient of the Lilly Endowment Challenge, a grant that will match all donations up to $50,000 for the theater. Donors can contribute to the Gilbert Theater Endowment by visiting https://cumberlandcf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1389.

For more information on season tickets and shows, visit https://www.gilberttheater.com.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare
“As of spring 2022, we will have been in Fayetteville for 10 years and so with the upcoming season we are looking forward to our 10-year anniversary,” said Jeremy Fiebig, Artistic Director for Sweet Tea Shakespeare.

Their upcoming season starts in August and the first show will be “HamLIT” directed by Traycie Kuhn-Zapata. It will showcase how the prince of Denmark goes off his rocker on the rocks in this “bLITzed” take on Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, “Hamlet.” “HamLIT” will play Aug. 13 and 27 at Hugger Mugger in Sanford; Aug. 14 and 28 at The Church at Paddy’s in Fayetteville; and Aug. 20 and 21 at the Arts Council in Fayetteville.

Next in the season will be “Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare,” directed by Fiebig, which will run Aug. 19 through Sept. 5. The late Shakespearean romance brings family, fairytale and forgiveness to the stage. The tale follows King Leontes as he wrongfully accuses his wife of adultery and unleashes a storm of tragedy upon the kingdom of Sicilia.

“The Winter’s Tale” will be staged and performed in Raleigh, and made available in Fayetteville via streaming later in the season.

“We do a series of Shakespeare plays ... we do at bars and craft breweries called LIT,” Fiebig said. “The biggest news for us other than the anniversary is we are expanding to Raleigh as well and we’ll be streaming it so folks from Fayetteville who can’t make the drive can view it as well.”

“McLIT” will begin in October. Imagine if the writer, director and actors of “Macbeth” get lost at a frat party on their way to the show. It will be full of Shakespeare, drinking games, improv and lively music. This show is for adults only ages 18 and up. “McLit” plays Oct. 1 and 22 at Hugger Mugger in Sanford; Oct. 16 and 22 at The Church at Paddy’s in Fayetteville. Other shows will be added through April, 2022.

The classic love story “Romeo and Juliet” will be on the stage in Raleigh from Oct. 21 to Nov. 7, followed by Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s annual Christmas show, “Behold” that will play Dec. 2 through Dec. 11 that returns to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville.

“Richard II” and “Henry IV, Part 1” which will be performed in rep by a single company of actors, constitutes the first half of Shakespeare’s history tetralogy — an epic tale of fathers and sons, loyalty and leadership, politics and power. It is the story of ordinary people weathering the winds of change in a fledgling nation. And it is a visceral reminder that history isn’t past; it’s not even history at all. The plays will run on alternating days in Raleigh from Jan. 13 to Jan. 30, 2022.

April brings Jane Austen’s “Emma” adapted by Assistant Artistic Director Claire F. Martin who gives Austen’s rom-com a dazzling update. The show
will run at multiple locations from April 21 to May 15, 2022.

Tickets for Sweet Tea Shakespeare performances are $20 general admission and $25 at the door, with discounts for seniors, military and students. Guests can also become a Monthly Sustainer of Sweet Tea Shakespeare for special advance ticket rates and other benefits.

For more information and show schedules, tickets and performance locations, visit https://sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets/.

Fayetteville Dinner Theatre
The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre returned to Gates Four Golf & Country Club with two successful shows this year. They opened in April with two sold-out performances of the musical comedy “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letter/Sleight of Hand,” written and directed by Dr. Gail Morfesis and produced by Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper.

The second musical show “Beyond Broadway: Music of Our Time,” was produced and directed by Bill Bowman, the publisher of Up & Coming Weekly, and featured local performers Tim Zimmerman and Linda Flynn.

“We have an excellent feel of the type of dinner theatre entertainment the community wants,” said Bowman. “Gates Four is the perfect venue, and General Manager Kevin Lavertu has been very instrumental in assisting us in creating a theatrical venue that complements the other great live theater offerings we enjoy here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.”

Bowman said the intent is for Gates Four to provide local patrons an entertainment experience that is different and uniquely special to Gates Four.

“It is an experience that would WOW the audiences and give the Gates Four theatre experience a unique brand,” Bowman said.

FDT accomplishes this by abandoning the traditional buffet-style dinner and show concept for a more fun, yet elegant theater experience. The evening begins with the directors welcome reception and wine tasting featuring a wide selection of local wines and trays of hors d'oeuvres. The dining room welcomes guests with draped tables, cloth napkins, candlelight, a three-course plated dinner with dual entrees, and an elegant dessert buffet at the intermission. There is pre-show entertainment during the dinner hour, and once the show is underway, there are prizes and surprises.

“The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre’s mission is to bring quality shows to local area theater-goers and provide local actors a venue to showcase their talents,” Bowman said.

Gates Four and the FDT donate the money raised from the wine tasting to local children's literacy and education organizations or other community nonprofit organizations like the Care Clinic.

While there are no shows scheduled for the rest of this calendar year, FDT does plan four shows in 2022.

In the works is “Miss Congeniality,” a musical comedy written by Bowman and being produced and directed in collaboration with Dr. Gail Morfesis.

Another planned show is “Mark Twain Himself” staring Richard Garey. This show was scheduled in May of 2020, but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Garey is a student of history and has performed all over the world, entertaining audiences with the genuine wit and wisdom of Mark Twain.

For the latest FDT schedule, visit www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com/.

11 love letter ladies

10 JH 09125 12 Midsoummer and Much Ado

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Gilbert Theater, Sweet Tea Shakespeare and Fayetteville Dinner Theatre with special thanks to Jonathan Hornby Productions and Tony Wooten.

Artist mixes art and technology to find a place in new media

11 Taipei Tower 2 with Blue SeriesAnother first for the area, Lost and Found: New Media Works by Carla Guzman opens at Gallery 208 on Aug. 17. Her first one-person exhibition since earning a Master’s in Fine Art in Contemporary Art at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Republic of China. During her studies, Guzman’s focus was new media in the visual arts.

Attending the artist’s reception between 5:30 and 7 p.m., visitors will meet a young artist who is the daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, a small country that experienced civil war in the late 80s. Raised with the work ethic to achieve the American Dream she noted: “over the years I have become very Americanized, yet I will always be influenced by a background which stems from transgenerational trauma due to civil unrest and contradiction.”

Before completing the new media graduate degree in China and returning to the United States, Guzman had graduated from Fayetteville State University with an undergraduate degree in visual arts. For Guzman, the transition of ideas and meaning in new media was similar to the way she worked in traditional mediums, the challenge was learning the technology and programming.

Guzman stated, “I always come back to my roots in traditional image making, it is the most direct way to tap into my creativity. My process includes three steps: the initial drawings, the postproduction and then the translation to new media (which is still evolving). I can look at the digital work and identify the original matrix it came from and how it has evolved since then. For example, I might use a drawing from years ago again in a new work today. I tend to recycle images since emotions are at the core of my work and they remain constant.”

Guzman was asked about the advantages or disadvantages of working in different modalities or sensory systems and to comment on the idea of selecting images verses creating them without a computer. She was quick to explain how ways of working influence the modality you are using.

For example, she stated: “I was the type of printmaker that loved mistakes because they were always beautiful and interesting to me. Printmaking taught me not to become too attached to an end-product but follow the process. In a similar way, if my external hard drive becomes messed up or if something happened, half of my drawings remain on the other side of the world. I am okay because I have my operative system that I go by. In the same way as printmaking, I welcome these mishaps. Building upon previous work is interesting, but also, a clean slate is great because there is the challenge to improve things like technique and skill which applies to new media as well.”

It takes time to find one’s way in a technological medium that has been rapidly developing for the last 40 years, even faster the last 5 years, and Guzman is a newcomer. A constructive turning point was during her thesis research when she came across some of the earliest artists in the 1970s who were the first to mix art and technology. Discovering E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology: a non-profit organization established in 1967 to develop collaborations between artists and engineers) and artists Robert Mallary and Harold Cohen was a way for Guzman to focus on a strategy to express herself in new media.

Guzman considers herself like Harold Cohen, the artist who created AARON - a computer software program that generated compositions on its own, allowing the artist to create several compositions in the course of a few days. Guzman takes a similar approach to Cohen: “I like that a computer can generates many images, then I select the best and develop my imagery from the successful ones. It allows for more iterations of the same image without totally abandoning the original one.”

In addition to developing new technological skill, the time Guzman spent in China influenced the artist in many other ways: “The graduate program in China was an international curriculum with professors from top art institutions around the world and in China. It was an amazing nonwestern experience that led to opportunities for travel in China and meeting with contemporary Chinese and international artists, emerging and established. Your sensibilities and viewpoints change when you are not able to communicate or understand anything other than the images in front of you.”

Guzman lived in China three years, and then due to the pandemic, lived a year and a half in Taiwan before returning to the USA. Lost and Found includes works from her graduate thesis exhibit titled Contemporary Emotion-Based Multimedia Art: Artistic Strategies and Viewer Response and works while living in Taiwan.

Guzman describes herself as “digital abstract expressionist” and her works are “essentially maquettes which are meant to be spatial emotional sculptures within the real world and the void. The works completed while living in Taiwan were during my time of being displaced in Taiwan due to the pandemic. The result was efforts to integrate emotional sculptures, feelings of loss and chaos, in actual location in Taiwan.”

In seeing Guzman’s “emotional sculptures,” visitors to the exhibit will need to reconsider what it means for something to be a sculpture. Traditionally we think of sculpture as a tangible object that has been physically carved, modeled or cast in a material. The world of virtual reality and other new media platforms are most often illusionary - but ever present. The semantics of what it means to be a sculpture in a new media world has been forever altered to have new meaning, new forms - with this comes new sensibilities about experiencing the object/nonobject and the making of the object/nonobject.

In describing her images, new explanatory words are used to refer to their existence which would never apply to traditional sculptural forms. For example, in the early works titled “Taipai Tower 1” and “Yuanshuan Series,” Guzman has created floating sculptural forms in cityscapes. Hard-edge linear forms appear and disappear as if in dissonance with the space. The sculptures are not static but living, expanding and contracting. Reflective color and form interrupt the space and yet inhabit the space in a palatable way. There is sense these sculptures are never permanently located but continuously move themselves.

Compared to the earlier work, the “Hualian Series” is a sculptural series made of light, sometimes colorless as well as the colorless becoming refractive color. Located on a shoreline, seeing the series next to each other, it is if we do not move closer to the sculpture, but the sculpture moves closer to us. The spinning forms in earlier works are now a vaporous wall; not inhabiting the space but appearing as energy and potential.

For anyone who visits Lost and Found, the artist would like viewers to “leave the exhibit feeling like they saw some beautiful images but also possibly formed some associations from their own experiences with her ‘emotional sculptures’ since emotions are innately part of all of us.” After recently returning to Fayetteville after living abroad for almost 5 years, Guzman shared she is presently “in the process of getting found” and looking forward to “networking and collaborating with new media artists.”

The public in invited to meet the artist and attend the public reception of Lost and Found: New Media Works by Carla Guzman on Aug. 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Gallery 208 located at 208 Rowan Street. The exhibit will remain up until the end of October. Gallery hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. For information call 910-484-6200.

Pictured Above: "Taipei Tower 2 with Blue Series" by Carla Guzman.

Below: "Skate Park with Blue Series 3" by Carla Guzman.

10 skate park w blue series 3

 

50 years of work by local artist is featured in new exhibit

10 Wading In the Water Alvin AileyThe possibilities of painting and mixed media is the underlying theme of the new exhibit opening at the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County during 4th Friday on July 23.
Revelation: 50 Years of Painting: Works by Dwight Smith is the Art Council’s first 50-year retrospect exhibition by a living artist, working in an abstract style.

The public is invited to attend the opening or visit the Arts Council during the last week in July and through September 11.

Visitors to the gallery will have the chance to see the progression of Smith’s work and experience the joyfulness he brings to an abstract style of painting and working in mixed media.

To see Smith’s work is to become more familiar with a different way of looking at the possibilities of image making. Visitors will hopefully leave the gallery having greater insight in “how” the work of Smith conveys meaning in his style and ways he works with materials.

To understand the “how” everyone visiting the exhibit should allow themselves to experience the art “as it is.” If you are an individual who prefers figurative or narrative works of art, take the time to see or try to see what the artist has been exploring for the last 50 years to express meaning in his work.

Not required to enjoy Smith’s work, but understanding he comes from the tenets of the modernist school of abstract expressionism, is a doorway you should enter and immerse yourself in the style of abstraction.
Smith has been always driven by the early abstract expressionist’s principles in painting: the sensation of immediacy, a painting is not a picture, but an object that has the same capabilities as sculpture to occupy space, possess thickness, density, and weight.

In lieu of descriptive subject matter in a painting to evoke meaning, Smith focuses on form to conjure meaning. Although he started off predominantly in watercolors, he later moved to oil and acrylic.

In the latter mediums, he does not use layers of transparent colors to create the immaterial; instead, the opacity of the ever-present paint surface, or the collage surface, leads us to materiality — the physicality of the work.

The opacity of Smith’s color palette is not an elusive approach to painting; it invites us to know the physical sensation of touch. Combined with texture, we can begin to understand his painting is not about arrested or metaphorical touch, but the immediacy of touch.

Being open to abstraction as a style, visitors will be able to study and experience how this artist embeds meaning in materials. For Smith, the sources of his lifetime pursuit in painting are combining iconic symbols with the exploration of surface quality and the power of abstraction to communicate an idea or a feeling, and collage as a significant 20th century method.

This search stayed with him after his graduation from Wayne State with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting in 1976, during his return to Wayne State to earn a Master of Art in Painting in 1992, and the highest studio degree, a Master of Fine Art in

Painting at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2012.

Knowing the artist’s statement, we can follow the timeline of his pursuit of “integrating opposites into a state of harmony and balance. Each work is a commitment to intimate concerns about painting and the language of abstraction. Research and investigations into contemporary painting involve mixed media painting and drawings that are influenced by material surfaces, textures and scale.”

Seeing the timeline of the paintings in the exhibit, it is easy to identify when the use of symbols emerged and the significance of the symbol. Smith’s artists statement explains the purpose of symbolism in his work: “Elements of design referenced in African, African American, or multi-cultural imagery create a catalyst to begin a visual language that informs the work. Through the work, I am responding to the tension generated by a resounding past and an insistent present.”

The artist’s commitment to the abstract form and the use of specific symbols guides us to understanding personal meaning in his most recent work. Smith explains: “The works celebrate life, family histories and tributes to artists. I express certain social realities concerning the world while exploring aesthetic qualities of being black in America and addressing the literal symbology of contemporary blackness within the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, creating a pliable structure for intuition, improvisation, and chance.”

Building on 20th century modernism, contemporary art is even more varied and complex. Personal expression can include beauty, but most often works can be highly political, globalization has influenced styles, the digital age continues to impact everyone, and themes of identity and social unrest is prevalent. Yet, Smith has remained focused on the formal problems of painting and the expressive power of material.

His style is a way to express his personal narrative about states of being — specifically his experiences of being an African American male in America. Even though growing up Black in America continues to have serious challenges and obstacles in American culture, we leave Revelation: 50 Years of Painting understanding how joyfulness, spirituality, love of music, love of dance, and love of life are the core of Dwight Smith’s beingness: and it is this feeling, or state of being, which is communicated throughout his work.

It is important to understand why an artist has the impulse to create, but it is also important to know what choices an artist’s makes that encourage or support their efforts to remain an artist.

For Smith, a key influence was an African American art organization which was established in the 1950s, the National Conference of Artists, Michigan Chapter.

While galleries and the “artworld” were not promoting African American artists up until the 1990s, the NCA was an important meeting place for artists to work together, encourage each other, have exhibits, travel to other countries, and network.

As a very young and emerging artist, Smith was able to interface with a network of seasoned African American artists, many historically important in American Art. Mentored by John A. Lockart, knowing David Driskell, Howandena Pindell, Romare Bearden, Shirley Woodson and Al Loving had the greatest influence on his personal development of style.

After retiring from a career as the advertising and display coordinator for the Automobile Club of Michigan in 2007 (and remaining an exhibiting artist), Smith, and his immediate family (partner Calvin Mims and Shirley Mims) moved to Fayetteville.

Besides being an artist, the move to North Carolina began a new chapter in his life when he became an educator. Currently Smith is a tenured Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University in the Department of Performing and Fine Art.

While teaching at Fayetteville State University with a master’s degree, another important influence on Smith was when he decided to go back to graduate school to earn a Master of Fine Art at the Art Institute of Boston.

He stated, “Everyone needs something or someone to solidify the legitimacy of your work during different phases. While earning my MFA the comments from the visiting artists helped to do that. As well, it was a period when I could revisit and analyze my work up to that point.”

Smith’s accomplishments as an artist are way too extensive to start listing in this editorial. It suffices to say he is an artist who continues to show regionally, nationally and internationally, his works continues to be purchased by collectors, his paintings are in many private and public collections, including museums, and he has received many national honors and awards.

Dwight Smith (and his partner Calvin Mims) have had a significant impact on the arts in Fayetteville by owning and operating Ellington White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street.

In addition, Smith has significantly contributed to the cultural landscape of Fayetteville and nationally by exhibiting, his continued participation in NCA, scholarly presentations, curating significant exhibits, and his community/professional service.

Revelation: 50 Years of Painting at the Art Council is well worth the time to visit. But it is not an exhibit to rush through. One will have to spend quiet time with the work to see how a consummate artist gives evidence to a well-known statement:

By knowing your craft, you spend less time in thinking about the process and can focus on the “why” of painting.”

The exhibition opens during 4th Friday on July 23. The public is invited to the free event, and the exhibition will remain up until September 11.

For information on the exhibition call the Arts Council at 910-323-1776 or visit www.theartscouncil.com/.

The Arts Council is located at 301 Hay St. in Fayetteville. Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.

Pictured above: "Wading in the Water Alvin Ailey" by Dwight Smith

Pictured Below:

(Left) "Homage to Al Loving" by Dwight Smith

(Middle) "A Conversation with Norman Lewis" by Dwight Smith

(Right) "Girl in the Yellow Raincoat" by Dwight Smith

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12 5 13 Girl in the Yellow Raincoat

 

 

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