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Visual art this month: Exhibits uptown and exurbs worth seeing

By Barbara Schreiber

‘Currencies: Real and Imagined’ and ‘Convergence of the Twain’

McColl Center for Visual Art is known internationally for its artist-in-residence program; its affiliate program for area artists gets less attention. But “Currencies: Real and Imagined,” an exhibition by Core Visual Art – a collective of affiliate alumni – signals a change in McColl’s relationship to its homegrown artists.

Core members Daniel Allegrucci, Crista Camarroto, Diane Hughes, Ashley Lathe, Laura McCarthy and Felicia van Bork collaborated on the show’s centerpiece: a huge outline map of the U.S. that has within each state an invented local currency.

Rounding out the show are works based on ideas of currency and exchange in media ranging from painting to performance. The works are by Core members, former residents Mel Chin and Dread Scott, and affiliate alumnus Nathaniel Lancaster.

On the second- and third-floor galleries, normally considered secondary spaces, is “Convergence of the Twain,” with 11-month affiliate Linda Luise Brown and Wesley Mancini artist-in-residence Jason Watson.

Brown’s lush abstract paintings evince a pure love of movement and color. Watson’s mixed media works, which begin with figure drawing, overflow with dense imagery and text. Instead of doing separate solos, they painted the walls in rich colors and inventively intermingled their work, turning these galleries’ liabilities into assets and raising the bar for artists whose work will later grace these walls.

McColl Center for Visual Art, through Jan. 11; mccollcenter.org; 704-332-5535.

‘New Mythologies’ by William Villalongo and ‘African American Art Since 1950: Perspectives From The David C. Driskell Center’

If you’re heading to the Gantt Center for “Question Bridge: Black Males,” don’t miss these shows.

William Villalongo’s over-the-top work takes apart conventions of Western culture, in particular the classical female form. His women – most of them wearing masks made from paintings – are not delicate creatures who exist to be admired by men; they are working.

Dominating this show are five paintings that combine acrylic, flocking and paper on triangular, rhomboid or fan-shaped panels. In each, the viewer looks through a silhouetted jungle into a clearing by a river, where women are intensely (sometimes madly) engaged in painting, hunting and other activities, some of them bizarre.

In 20 small works on paper, women confront the viewer with brazen stares or gestures.

“African American Art Since 1950” is a great opportunity to view work of artists seldom seen here.

In addition to artists familiar to Charlotte audiences, such as Romare Bearden, Radcliffe Bailey and Nick Cave, there is also work by Kara Walker, Martin Puryear, Chakaia Booker, Betye Saar and other significant artists.

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture, Driskell through June 1, Villalongo (recommended for adults only) through Jan. 20; 704-547-3700; ganttcenter.org.

Phillip Larrimore

Phillip Larrimore’s wall-mounted constructions are composed of layered, painted window screening.

Some are abstract, some figurative. The best – or at least the ones that look best in his exhibition at the Gaston County Museum – are irregularly shaped works that allude to nature. Their complex layering and pigmentation make them mysterious and mirage-like.

This odd, charming museum is housed in the former Hoffman Hotel, built in 1852. The third-floor gallery was used by Gaston College art students until about a year ago, when it morphed into a space for regional artists.

Both this show and space could use a little editing – focusing more on Larrimore’s most unified body of work, removing furnishings that compete with the art on display and freshening the walls.

With a little curatorial muscle, this space can easily become a valuable resource for metro artists and audiences.

Gaston County Museum of History & Art, Dallas, through Dec. 14; gastoncountymuseum.org; 704-922-7681.

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