Greensboro is having a moment. After a few years of build up, Gate City is hitting its cultural stride. Post-grads are sticking around after graduation, a brand new independent newspaper just launched, new restaurants are opening their doors, and an already large art scene is flourishing. The Gatewood Gallery at UNCG is only adding to this growth and excitement. On Sunday March 2nd, they opened the doors to their current exhibit, “We Join Spokes Together In a Wheel”, showcasing art by talented students from universities throughout the Triad, including Greensboro College, UNCG, North Carolina A&T, and our own Guilford College.
This Sunday’s gallery opening embraced the atmosphere of collaboration really successfully, integrating the displayed art with student musical performances, and (like any great gallery opening) hot dogs and corn hole. The afternoon started off with a panel of local arts professionals: Xandra Eden, Events Curator for the Weatherspoon, Jenny Carlisle, Production Coordinator for Elsewhere, and our own Mark Dixon, sculpture professor and performance artist. They were tasked with discussing Regionalism in art, a nebulous and formerly negative term that is now defined as art that is unique to place related concerns that also belongs to a global community. These panelists are part of a group who are working to reclaim Regionalism from the former connotations- American heartland, anti urban art- to this new positive and impactful definition. Living in, what Xandra accurately described as, a “decentralized art world” with gallery spaces being taken over by web curators, Regionalism has an opportunity to bring intention to art being made in a specific place. As she eloquently explained, we as a society are interested in buying local food, but this has not quite yet transitioned over to the art world.
In this show, curators Chris Thomas and Lee Walton have created a physical space to explore our regional art. Just like our local food, the student art in Spokes also has its own unique flavor. For instance, Guilford student and former Hand/Eye writer Adam Faust is showing a series of 4 photographs taken in Italy, each featuring unnoticed details of everyday life. The subjects are location specific, yet only few steps over we see a huge multi-media work by UNCG student Mary Chong. The piece is a two-dimensional, tornado shaped patchwork sculpture, funneling down to a small black picture frame. The pieces, standing side by side in the exhibit, reference the same color palette and have very similar uses of line and shape in their work. They utilize the texture of brick, accent circles with dynamic lines, and portray the familiar in an unfamiliar way.
These artists, from different parts of the world, completing heir work in different countries still have a deep common thread in their work. I would argue that their pieces, among several others that exhibited remarkable cohesion (seen in the pictures below), are showing Regionalism at work. They are influenced by this booming little city that we call home.
Spokes in a Wheel’s curators Lee and Chris are embracing the forward momentum in Greensboro by breaking students out of their individual bubbles and bringing them together over their love and talent for art. Through thoughtful composition, they hope the physical integration of art works leads to collaboration between students at different institutions. This is a sort of trial run for SALT, Student Art League of the Triad, an initiative thought up by Lawrence Jenkins. Upon its creation, SALT would give local art students a space to show their work, collaborate with other students, and learn business practices. Jenkin’s idea, like the rest of Greensboro, has an incredible amount of momentum. It will be fascinating to see if this short-lived exhibit (Spokes in a Wheel is only up until March 20th!) will contribute to the energy towards SALT or present a larger challenge than expected. I can’t wait to see where we take this.
If you are a local student or art lover, head on over to Gatewood Gallery now and see We Join Spokes Together In a Wheel while it lasts. Information is on their website, http://gatewoodgallery.com. To learn more about SALT, check out a recent article in the News and Observer found here.