‘The Small Things that Fit ... Works by Cornell Jones’ at Gallery 208

11 01 Profile Series 9In contemporary art, the subject for an artist can range from the decorative to the political, the profane to the sublime, or stark minimalism to excessive detail. For local artist Cornell Jones, “the works are an extension of myself — a record, a reflection. Making new work answers questions for me and keeps me constantly in the mindset of observing the world around me.”

In his one-person exhibition titled Small Things that Fit ... Works by Cornell Jones, opening Oct. 1 at Gallery 208, visitors to the opening reception will preview a body of work that reveals Jones’ sensibilities to the world around him.
Raised in Alabama, he attended Troy State University and then spent time in New York City, working in art organizations, social work agencies and community organizations after earning a Master of Fine Arts in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He later returned to our region and presently works as an elementary art teacher in Fayetteville and an adjunct member of the faculty at Fayetteville State University.

Jones distinguishes himself as a Southerner and an American of African descent. He noted: “My cultural identity influences both my artwork and the process through which I create. It is extremely important to me that I reflect my community, experiences and beliefs in the work that I present.” What the artist does not state is how the idea of identity is the common thread throughout the works in the exhibit.

Although Jones’ heritage is fixed, meaning in each work is fluid, and he leaves us room for interpretation. The exhibit conveys conditions for abstracted circumstance, change and influence. In most of the works, the figure is totally obscure or partially obscured, allowing the viewer to re-examine the identity in each work. Is the figure you, someone you know or a stranger?

How the artist would like us to see something about his “community” is subtle and influenced by his history. Although we do not need to know influences on the work, knowing the influences does alter our perception of meaning, and we are able to connect to the artist; we are able to understand something about his “community” in the works.

Jones described the influences from his childhood: “My process of exploring materials is directly inspired by the time I spent with my great-grandmother as she made patchwork quilts. Often, as a young boy, I found myself threading needles and sorting through her bags of colorful fabric scraps. I still enjoy searching, but the fabric has been replaced with hand-painted and found papers.”

11 02 Profile SeriesKnowing his history of watching his great-grandmother select parts of fabric to create a whole, we can easily understand how according to  Jones, “discarded or fragmented pieces are assembled to create something new into my artistic practice, whether it be drawing, painting or collage. The traditions, rituals, landscape and memories of my Southern upbringing are deeply rooted in my process and product.”

Within Jones’ busy schedule and his many responsibilities, he still finds time to be a practicing artist. A testament to the creative impulse within him, Jones noted he creates new works because he is curious. “I study things that I might have overlooked, and I enjoy the process of developing or growing an idea from a sketch to a finished piece to a body of work. As a teacher, I also find it necessary to continue creating so that I can talk to students from a place of current experience. I stay active in the creative process by making, learning new skills and researching the ways other artists perceive the world that are outside the way I think about it.”

Jones is not only an excellent educator and a family man, but he continues to share his work with the public in exhibitions. His work has been included in exhibitions in New York and North Carolina. Most recently he was selected to exhibit in 2017 at the Arts Council in Fayetteville/Cumberland County for the 10:10:10 exhibit.  Jones’ works have also been exhibited at the Delta Arts Center in Winston-Salem, the Greenhill Center for North Carolina Art in Greensboro and Ellington White Contemporary Gallery in Fayetteville.

For Jones, due to his professional and personal obligations, the greatest challenge is setting up a routine he can follow to create new works. Although his creative time is often interrupted, he noted how he still tries to be consistent and routinely returns to the studio to create new work.

The routine of making time to continue to be an artist may have been influenced by his upbringing and watching his great-grandmother making quilts. One cannot imagine a clearer view of his creative impetus, he is still the innocent child at the table with his great-grandmother, exploring and assembling materials. For Jones, like his great-grandmother, the creative experience is “following ideas … artmaking is an exploration in materials and concepts. I reflect. I record. I draw. I paint. I cut. I assemble,” said Jones.

Everyone is invited to meet Jones at the opening reception of his exhibit, “Small Things that Fit ... Works by Cornell Jones,” Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Gallery 208, at 208 Rowan St. in Fayetteville, between the hours of 5:30-7 p.m. The artist will do a short presentation at 6 p.m. and share insight with everyone about his process and the content of the works in the exhibit.

For anyone not attending the opening, the exhibit will remain up until Dec. 15. For information call 910-484-6200.

Home is Where the HeArt Is fundraiser aims at heart of homelessness

09 paintingBeautiful art. Live music. Light bites and beverages. Home is Where the HeArt Is, an art auction fundraiser for Connections of Cumberland County, combines a fun evening out with support for a good cause. The event will be on Sept. 26 from 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Studio 215 in downtown Fayetteville. 

Guests to this third-annual event will have the opportunity to bid on original works of art by local and regional artists during live and silent auctions. Art auction items will include paintings in acrylic, oil, pastel and plein-air, charcoal sketches, handmade jewelry, pottery, photography, basket weavings and mixed media. A live painting created at the scene will also be up for bid that night.

A portraiture experience valued at over $5,000 donated by internationally recognized artist and Methodist University art department Chairman Vilas Tonape will be a live auction exclusive. Other well-known local artists also contributing include Greg Hayes, Greg King, Shari Jackson Link, Stephanie Bostock, Suzanne Frank and Wick Smith.

Jennifer Fincher, 2019 art auction chair and CCC board member, expects this year to exceed the totals in both ticket sales and donated art from last year’s event. The highly attended 2018 fundraiser saw 54 local and regional artists donate 86 items.  According to Fincher, the event moved this year to a new venue to accommodate its growth and increasing popularity.

     “We look forward to this year’s event being bigger and better than ever,” Fincher said. “We are so grateful for all the support that sponsors, artists and patrons have given us in the past. The auction is the single fundraiser all year for Connections of Cumberland County and raises a large part of our annual budget. We invite everyone to come out to the event, have a glass of wine, mix and mingle, view some great art or buy a piece to take home, and support the mission of Connections of Cumberland County.”

     Connections of Cumberland County operates the only nonprofit day resource center for homeless women and children in Fayetteville. Its goal is to provide life-changing links though comprehensive case management services to women and children who are homeless or facing homelessness. The agency collaborates with other vital community resources to help clients become safe and self-sufficient.

     The nonprofit started from research conducted by the Women’s Giving Circle of Cumberland County on the basic needs of local women and children. When results revealed alarming statistics on homelessness, a committee was birthed from the Women’s Giving Circle to start Connections. The agency relies on proceeds raised from the art auction, grants, and community donors, as well as the service of volunteers. Connections celebrated five years of success in Cumberland County this year.

     Connections is accepting sponsors at five recognition levels. The 2019 presenting sponsor is Patty Collie, senior vice president and financial advisor with Morgan Stanley of Fayetteville. The auction committee will accept art through Sept. 11. Sponsors and artists interested in donating can call the agency office at 910-630-0106 for information. Reserve tickets at for this HeArt-felt event.

Pictured: one of the paintings that will be auctioned off at the Home is Where the HeArt Is art auction 

Downtown Summer Nights concert series offers free music and fun

10 summer nightsLocal bands. Diverse dining options. Fayetteville community. Downtown Summer Nights, a concert series presented by Cumberland Tractor Kubota of Fayetteville, has transformed Person Street into a full-blown block party every Thursday night this summer. 

“We had almost 3,000 people on Person Street,” said Kelly West, promotions and marketing director for Rock 103, about the night The Embers performed. “Everyone (came) down to shag. They even wore their shagging shoes.” Regional tribute bands Legacy Motown, Sidewinder and 20 Ride, a Zac Brown Band tribute, are a few more of this summer’s hits, West said.

Every genre from classic rock to 80s ballads, and plenty more, is  featured in the programming. There’s something for everyone, according to West. “We’ve had every kind of person down here, every walk of life, everything,” including families. The Kids Zone, presented by Fascinate-U Children’s Museum and sponsored by ShineLight, includes an inflatable house, crafts and other activities that change weekly. Popular activities have involved everything from making slime to growing chia pets.

Most importantly, the concert series highlights the brick and mortar on Person Street, said Isabella Effon, a member of the Cool Spring Downtown District Board of Directors. “I was the only one programming Person Street,” Effon said, referring to her time as a restaurant owner before spearheading Summer Nights Downtown with West. Effon also had Person Street in mind when she started the African World Peace Festival. “We’ve seen growth. There’s so much on Person Street, too.”

West and Effon provide crowd-pleasing food trucks, but they also encourage concertgoers to try the eateries lining Person Street. In fact, the food trucks were recently relocated to the parking lot next to Person Street to draw attention to restaurants like The Sweet Palette, Circa 1800, The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop and, soon, Taste of West Africa, which Effon is planning to open after the summer.

“It’s opening people’s eyes to businesses that people have never paid attention to,” Effon said. “(It benefits) not only Person Street, but the whole downtown district.” According to West, shops like Ro’s Corner Barber Shop and Back-A-Round Records have also gotten more business since the series’ opening.

In the spirit of being community-minded, Summer Nights Concerts always has a local musician perform the National Anthem. Former “American Idol” contestants, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers and even Fort Bragg’s own Sargeant Mahoon have led or will lead the community in the Star-Spangled Banner this summer.

Downtown Summer Nights concerts will finish its first run with three August shows. Local band Tyrek and Lotus Sun will open the Aug. 8 show, headlined by Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute. On Aug. 15, 80’s Unplugged and an Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band will take the stage. The season closes Aug. 22 with Dead City Symphony and Heart Breaker, a female-fronted Heart and Led Zeppelin tribute band.

The community can expect this year’s favorites, plus some surprises, to make an appearance at next year’s Downtown Summer Nights. “The Embers will be back. Legacy Motown will be back. (The) Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band will be back,” said West. She hinted that there may be completely new forms of entertainment next year as well.

Downtown Summer Nights concerts take place every Thursday through June 20-Aug. 22 on the 100 block of Person St., next to Ro’s Corner Barber Shop. Admission is free. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and music begins at 6 p.m. The event is brought to the public by Cumberland Tractor Kubota of Fayetteville, Cumulus Media, Cool Spring Downtown District and Five Star Entertainment. To become a vender, or for more information, call Kelly West at 509-901-3467.

Four challenging books make for good summer reading

13 A Woman Is No ManRocky Mount writer Etaf Rum, author of “A Woman Is No Man,” grew up in a Palestinian immigrant family in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1990s and 2000s. Her book is based on experiences in that community. We first meet Isra, a 17-year-old girl living in Palestine. Her family arranges marriage to an older man, Adam, who owns a deli and lives with his parents and siblings in Brooklyn, New York. Living in Adam’s family’s basement, Isra becomes a virtual servant to Adam’s mother, Fareeda, who pushes the couple to have children, males who can build the family’s reputation and influence. Isra produces four children, but because they are all girls Fareeda shows her displeasure.

Years later after Adam and Isra die, Fareeda raises the girls. The oldest, Deya, is a high school senior. Fareeda looks for a Palestinian man for her to marry. Deya wants to go to college, but she is afraid to bolt her family and the community’s customs. She knows of women who have stood up against male domination and then faced beatings and even death.

As Rum explains, the book “meant challenging many long-held beliefs in my community and violating our code of silence.” 

Elaine Neil Orr’s novel, “Swimming Between Worlds,” is set in 1950s Winston-Salem and Nigeria. The coming-of-age and love story is enriched by the overlay of the Nigerian struggle and the civil rights protests in Winston-Salem.

Tacker Hart, with an architectural degree at N.C. State, got a plum assignment to work in Nigeria, where he became so captivated by Nigerian culture, religion, and ambience that his white supervisors sent him home. Back in Winston-Salem, he falls for Kate Monroe, from one of Winston’s leading families. They become connected to Gaines, a young African-American college student who drags Tacker and Kate into his work organizing protest movements at lunch counters.

Orr blends civil rights and romance for a poignant and unexpected ending. 

Raleigh News & Observer political reporter and columnist Rob Christensen’s “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys” follows the Alamance County farm family of North Carolina governors Kerr Scott and his son Robert.

 He describes how Kerr Scott defeated the favored gubernatorial candidate of the conservative wing of the party in 1948 and adopted a liberal program of road-building, public school improvement and expanded government services. He ran for U.S. Senate in 1954 as a liberal in a campaign managed by future Governor Terry Sanford. Once elected, Christensen writes, Scott nevertheless joined with fellow southerners to oppose civil rights legislation and became “just another segregationist, little different from most of the southern caucus.”

Christensen then follows the political career of Kerr’s son, Bob Scott, who when elected governor in 1968, faced mountains of bitter controversies in the areas of race, labor, student unrest and higher education administration. 

 In “Freedom Fighters and Hell Raisers: A Gallery of Memorable Southerners,” famed essayist Hal Crowther has collected a sampling of his best work — columns about memorable southerners — including Will Campbell, James Dickey, Marshall Frady, John Hope Franklin, Jesse Helms, Molly Ivins, Frank M. Johnson, George Wallace and Doc Watson.

All are dead, and Crowther, without funeralizing, sizes up their character and contributions.

Crowther’s essay about blind musician Doc Watson is my favorite. Neither blindness nor the loss of his beloved son, Merle, could keep him from using his music to bring people of all backgrounds and political persuasions to be moved by his songs and guitar playing.

 We need Crowther’s freedom fighters and hell raisers, but the real heroes will be folks like Watson who bring us together. 

UNC—Built by fire and stone

12 Fire StoneThe boundaries of the university should be “coterminous with the boundaries of the state.” Leaders of the University of North Carolina often use this language to embrace a wider partnership with the entire state.

The words came from a University Day speech by Edward Kidder Graham, although he used the term “co-extensive” rather than “coterminous.”

Graham was UNC’s president from 1913, when he was named acting president, until his death in 1918, a victim of the flu epidemic that scorched the nation at the end of World War I.

In his recent book, “Fire and Stone: The Making of the University of North Carolina under Presidents Edward Kidder Graham and Harry Woodburn Chase,” Greensboro author Howard Covington explains how the “fire” of Graham and the “stone” of his successor Chase transformed UNC from a quiet liberal arts institution into a respected university equipped to provide an academic experience that prepared students to participate in a growing commercial, industrial, and agricultural New South.

At the time Graham became president, approximately1,000 students were enrolled at the university. The campus consisted primarily of a few buildings gathered around the South Building and Old Well. Classrooms and living quarters were crowded and in bad condition.

In his brief time as president, the youthful and charismatic Graham pushed the university to reach out across the state. Speaking at churches, alumni gatherings, farmers’ groups, and wherever a place was open to him, he preached that universities should help identify the state’s problems and opportunities and then devote its resources to respond to them.

Graham’s ambitious plans to transform the university were interrupted by World War I when the campus and its programs were disrupted and then commandeered by the military.

His death shortly after the war ended left the university without a magnetic and motivational figure to carry out his plans and vision. That task fell upon Henry Chase, a native of Massachusetts who had gained Graham‘s trust as a teacher and talented academic leader.

Although he did not have Graham’s charisma, Chase had something else that made him an appropriate successor to the visionary Graham. He had an academic background and a talent for recruiting faculty members who supported Graham’s and Chase’s vision.

Building on Graham’s plans and the enthusiasm that had been generated, Chase took advantage of the public pressure on the legislature to secure the resources to expand the campus. He organized and found support for university programs that included the graduate and professional training needed to serve the public throughout the state, as Graham had hoped.

By 1930, when Chase left UNC to lead the University of Illinois, the UNC campus had more than doubled in size, and the student body approached 3,000 including 200 graduate students. His successor, Frank Porter Graham, was Edward Kidder Graham’s first cousin.

Chase’s ride to success had been a bumpy one. For instance, in 1925, about the time of the Scopes-evolution trial in Tennessee, Chase faced a similar uprising in North Carolina from religious leaders who attacked the university because some science instructors were teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The state legislature considered and came close to passing a law to prohibit teaching of evolution.

Chase respectfully countered this attack, always emphasizing the point that Christianity was at the university’s core. His strong defense of freedom of speech gained him admiration of the faculty and many people throughout the state.

Covington writes that Chase “took the flame that Graham had ignited and used it to build a university and move it into the mainstream of American higher education.”

Without Graham’s fire and Chase’s stone, UNC would not have become what it is today, one of the most admired universities in the country.

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