Getting in on the Secret: Visiting Sketch at Green Hill Gallery

From the outside, the Greensboro Cultural Center follows suit with the other red brick and glass buildings surrounding it, but on the inside, it is easy to see how unique the space is. The building itself serves as a metaphor for the arts in Greensboro; incorporated into daily life, but still a special and irreplaceable part of the community. This idea is deeply ingrained in the Green Hill Gallery, one of the many gallery spaces found inside the GCC. Green Hill prides itself in their support of North Carolina artists by presenting and selling their work, particularly through their gift shop, which serves as the main entrance. After many visits to the shop, I have fallen in love with the original pieces that they always have on hand, from jewelry to ceramics. During this trip, however, I encountered something that was truly one of a kind. As if by fate, I visited the space on the last day of their exhibition, Sketch, a series of works taken from the sketchbooks of nine North Carolina artists, including our own Roy Nydorf. As soon as I approached the first cluster of images by Scott Raynor, I was captivated. With every piece of torn off paper, I get this feeling that I am looking at a secret. Each line of the pen or pencil is a part of each artists’ process that is normally hidden from the passing viewer, or even the devoted fan. My internal monologue says with conviction “What you’re seeing right now is super cool.”

The sketches are set up in clusters by artists, each section completed by a list of the names of each work and their price. I walk slowly through the room, not as if I am in a gift shop, but like I am in a gallery, finding fascination with each set of images. One moment, I am sucked into the impressive contour line work of Rebecca Fagg. The next, I am staring at Steven Cozart’s notes on color choice. Each set has a distinct identity, obviously defined by artist, but also by content. Many of the sketches represent figure studies. A few, however, seem to be observed then frozen moments, drawn during the every day life of the artist. This statement is entirely true of Betty Watson’s work, which stood out most to me. Her black pen drawings are very simple, but in a way that totally encourages imagination. Looking at a scene on the beach, I slowly begin to see colors emerge, then details fill in, forms complete, and I can imagine the final product. With absolutely no prior experience with her work, I can sense the completed picture. As I finish up viewing the sketches and start to head towards the door again, the gallery employee who I had talked to about writing for Hand/Eye when I arrived, offered to show me some of the images that were never hung up for the show. And I already had been thinking what I was seeing felt secretive! Both Betty Watson and Rebecca Fagg had work in books behind the counter that were just a stunning as the ones on the wall. This was more proof to me that the sketches are seeds. Some blossom and grow, made into larger works, while others are sold, or kept in a portfolio. Each contains tremendous potential that does not disappear because of its location. Overall, the experience was incredibly unique and just very cool.

As I mentioned above, Sunday was, unfortunately, the last day this exhibit was on view. But don’t worry, there is always a ton of cool events and exhibitions happening both at Green Hill and in the GCC. In fact, go check out Hannah Reed’s article on Animated!, one of Green Hill’s ongoing exhibitions. If we mentioned it twice, it must be pretty amazing, right?

If you have already been to that exhibit, you can check out Green Hill’s website at as well as the GCC City Arts page here.

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