The Cabarrus Arts Council’s new visual arts director, Rebecca Collins, has spent the past 11 months getting to know the community’s talent pool of local artists: their stories, their passions, their techniques and their works.
Now she’s ready to share what she’s learned about them during “Discover Local,” the first exhibition at The Galleries planned and organized under her keen, watchful eye.
“Discover Local” will feature the work of 12 area artists: Regina Carlton Burchett, Robert Alvin Crum, John Dunlap, Louise Farley, Rachel Goldstein, Allison McGowan Hermans, Patricia N. Jay, Paul Keysar, Jeff Pender, Jerry Measimer, Jennie Martin Tomlin and Walter Stanford.
The exhibition coincides with “Shop Seagrove,” the Arts Council’s annual show and sale of clay works from the famous pottery-making center of Seagrove.
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This year’s Seagrove show highlights pieces by Crystal King Pottery, Dirtworks Pottery, Eck McCanless Pottery, Kings Pottery and Pottery by Frank Neef.
Both exhibitions will run through Dec. 18 at The Galleries, 65 Union St. S., Concord, in the Historic Cabarrus Courthouse.
For Collins, “Discover Local” is her first chance to immerse herself in what she loves best: creating relationships between art and its patrons.
“A lot of people are intimidated by art. Sometimes we all can be,” she said. “I invite anybody to ask questions. If you don’t like something, that’s fine. If you don’t understand it, that’s fine, too. That’s all part of experiencing art.”
Collins joined the Arts Council last November. At that time, the organization’s outgoing visual arts director, Lin Barnhardt, had already planned several future exhibitions for The Galleries.
“Discover Local” is the first of many opportunities that Collins is creating for people to connect with the art around them.
In the Arts Council’s next exhibition, “Interactive Lines,” scheduled for early 2015, the gallery walls will be covered with white paper, and both artists and visitors, including students, will be invited to build on each other’s artistic creations.
“My hope is to get the community involved, not just in viewing art, but partaking in it,” said Collins.
How would it smell?
That’s a theme that promises to show itself in different ways under Collins’ direction. New initiatives aimed at various age groups will actively involve patrons in an artist’s process of thinking about and creating art.
One of them, called “Think About It,” encourages gallery visitors, through a series of prompts, to examine art in ways they might not have considered.
“What would it smell like if you were inside this painting, or what would the weather be like?” Collins said.
Others, such as “Art Box,” a self-contained art project available at the front desk, invite people to create their own works related to the current exhibition.
“Families are welcome to settle down in the galleries or, if it’s nice outside, sit on the lawn,” said Collins.
Newly formed groups sponsored by the council, such as Art on Tap for young adults, are also intended to carry on a conversation about art within the community.
The goal is to get people to experience different kinds of art. That’s something Collins practices herself.
In her office, wedged between two gallery rooms, a stack of thick, aged books about Grandma Moses and Vincent van Gogh fill her upper shelves. A neighboring shelf corrals a contemporary artist’s clay llama figurine.
“I’m really excited to share my vision,” she said. “There are no limitations.”