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October in the galleries: Glimmer, grit and thorns

By Barbara Schreiber

Art exhibitions this month celebrate both nature and the built environment. Some are rich with commentary; others exalt in pure form and color.

Shaun Cassidy: ‘Saturate’

This exhibition of colorful steel sculptures by Shaun Cassidy, a British-born artist who teaches at Winthrop University, includes large wall works with candy-colored industrial powder-coated finishes and smaller freestanding works with more subtle automotive finishes.

In his earlier years, Cassidy worked as a studio assistant to such renowned artists as Sir Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski. In some ways, this exhibition is an homage to them.

The wall-mounted works hover between painting and sculpture. Among them are geometric shapes with undulating surfaces that look like slices of the sea. Some pieces are window- or vortex-like, enticing the viewer to look both at and through them. Some have vibrant colors inspired by Cassidy’s 2008 artist residency in India.

Cassidy made the small sculptures after a visit with his family to Wales, where he was inspired the quality of light and the colors, as well as the simple joys of being there. Presented on plain welded-metal stands, they are reminiscent of flowers and jewels.

These sculptures are pure expressions of color and form – free, Cassidy says, of “negativity, cynicism or irony.”

New Gallery of Modern Art, through Nov. 12;

newgalleryofmodernart.com; 704-373-1464.

‘Pattern Now’

Ciel Gallery – one of a handful of U.S. galleries specializing in mosaics – has been around for five years, but it just stepped up its game with “Pattern Now,” an international exhibition curated by UK artist Emma Biggs.

This elegant show includes work by noted artists such as Israel’s Ilana Shafir, 89, whose complex, dense mosaics are rarely loaned for exhibition. There are also relative unknowns, such as Italy’s Sonya Louro Do Rego, whose work involves an expansive definition of mosaics, filled as it is with thorns, shells, felt and other odd materials.

Other highlights include Toyoharu Kii’s white mystical works and Julie Richey’s “Common Heritage” series, which is based on cave drawings and petroglyphs.

Ciel Gallery + Mosaic Studio, through Nov. 23; cielcharlotte.com; 704-577-1254.

‘Forged Landscapes’

Jam-packed galleries can sometimes be overwhelming, but this show is purposefully crowded, an extension of the energetic work on display.

Sharon Dowell’s works are mostly vivid evocations of urban experience. They vary in complexity and include a few collaborations, but her best pieces are frenetic, dense, layered paintings filled with the heat, noise and color of the places they depict.

Ahmad Sabha makes small, austere sculptures inspired by the industrial landscape. Some are water towers made of black-glazed ceramic and welded steel. Others are more enigmatic ceramic structures, presented on rough concrete pedestals.

Dowell’s work is washed in daylight; Sabha’s is darker, more reserved. Hers is the public cityscape; his is the hidden.

Ross Galleries, CPCC, through Nov. 14; blogs.cpcc.edu/cpccartgalleries; 704-330-2722, ext. 3211.

‘Nature: A Contemporary Look’

Babson Capital Management is partnering with McColl Center for Visual Art to present this exhibition of nine former McColl artists-in-residence, all of whom live in the Charlotte area.

Participating artists are Natalie Bork, Jennifer Gilomen, Nathaniel Lancaster, Tim McMahon, Jeff Pender, JoAnn Sieburg-Baker, Terry Shipley, Anatoly Tsiris and Pamela C. Winegard. This exhibition, which runs through January at the Duke Energy Center, is not open to the public, but those who visit the firm for business can view and purchase work.

Details: Bek Mitchell-Kidd, bekmk@mccollcenter.org.

This article is part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, local media dedicated to writing about the arts.
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