2013: The year in Triad arts

by Jordan Green| @JordanGreenYES

Winston-Salem and Greensboro continued to cement their respective reputations as vital art centers in the Southeast in 2013, each producing indigenous talent and facilitating cultural exchanges with other cities in the region. Meanwhile, third-string High Point asserted itself as a contender in interesting ways.

Continuing into its second year as a gallery, Delurk proved to be peerless as a flagship of the avant-garde in Winston-Salem, combining exhibits by member artists including Patrick Harris, Chad Beroth and Dane Walters with shows by provocative guests from other Southern arts hotspots like Athens, Knoxville and Chapel Hill.

The gallery opened last year in the space left vacant with the closing of the pioneering Urban Artware. Freed from her managerial responsibilities, Millicent Greason, the former owner of Urban Artware, refocused on her own work in spectacular fashion, exhibiting at Earshot (with husband Peter Spivak), the Community Arts Café (with the SEED collective) and the Electric Moustache Gallery (with Nicole Uzzell and Woodie Anderson). Anderson was similarly prolific as an exhibiter, with other shows cropping up at the Green Bean in Greensboro and Kilpatrick Design in Winston-Salem.

In Greensboro, Elsewhere continued to cement its reputation as a cutting-edge arts organization in the Southeast, operating more as an experiential laboratory than arts center. With a mission simultaneously bold and ambiguous, Elsewhere was able to venture further into community organizing territory, both in Greensboro and the region as a whole.

The organization hosted the “Southern Constellations” fellowship through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, selecting six artists from across the Southeast, including Nick Szuberla from Appalshop in eastern Kentucky and Nikita Gale from Atlanta.

“We were looking for artists who had a strong body of work, who were dealing with experimental and challenging material, and who were part of a network in their city — hence ‘constellation,’” explained George Scheer, who scoured the region for talent on behalf of Elsewhere.

The organization announced on Dec. 20 that the National Endowment for the Arts has approved a $20,000 grant to fund the fellowship for a second year.

The Hair-Do Project and Storyscapes — both tangentially associated with Elsewhere and more firmly connected with the Interactive Resource Center, a homeless day center in Greensboro — made compelling use of art as a vehicle for community organizing. Similarly, Story of My Life, a multi-media documentary and exhibit of six developmentally-disabled adults, pushed the envelope at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in Winston-Salem.

After five years as curator of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, Steven Matijcio decamped for Cincinnati, where he took the same job at the Contemporary Arts Center. The year also saw Dianne Caesar retire as executive director of Winston-Salem Delta Arts, and Carol Strohecker leave the Center for Design Innovation to serve as vice provost of academic affairs at Rhode Island School of Design.

In Greensboro, Katie Lank came on board as the new executive director at the Center for Visual Artists, while Earl Austin, Walter Fancourt and Jerry Cartwright assumed ownership of Artmongerz gallery from Frank Russell.

The year began inauspiciously in High Point with the closure of Yalik’s Modern Art, a pioneering gallery on Washington Street — conceived by some as an arts district for the city. An order for condemnation followed by demolition, albeit temporarily stayed by the Guilford County Historic Preservation Commission, against the historic Kilby Hotel cast a pall over the street. But in October, the Hayden-Harman Foundation leased a rehabbed crack house on Washington Street to the 512 Collective, injecting new hope for a sustainable arts scene in the district.

The new gallery quickly established that member artists Tammy McDowell, Daniel Amick, Beka Butts, Adrienne McCann and others are a force to be reckoned with.

Coincident with efforts to revitalize Washington Street through the arts, artists also critically engaged in an ongoing effort to hot-wire creativity into High Point’s larger urban core through a series of community meetings led by Miami-based urban planner Andres Duany. Brian Davis took the lead with a live-painting wall at a pop-up party that capped Duany’s visit and a giant tree frog mural on a downtown building housing an interior decorating business.

Passage, a solo exhibit of mixed-media paintings, fused glass and stained glass by Betti Pettinati-Longinotti, opens at Artworks Gallery in Winston-Salem on New Year’s Eve. !