Gallery opens two new exhibits in uptown Charlotte

From left, artist Isaac Payne, Irina Toshkova of the New Gallery of Modern Art and artist Mary-Ann Prack.
From left, artist Isaac Payne, Irina Toshkova of the New Gallery of Modern Art and artist Mary-Ann Prack. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

The New Gallery of Modern Art opened a collection by two artists with a reception Friday night in uptown Charlotte.

Both artists were on hand to talk about their works while guests enjoyed wine and food.

Isaac Payne’s works combine draftsmanship with drawing and paint media. His exclusive style is made evident through the combination of layered paper and a subtle color palette.

Mary-Ann Prack was drawn to the unlimited potential for creative expression that is characteristic of clay and she has been using it for over 30 years. She uses a non-traditional approach to the use of clay in terms of design, scale, or finish techniques. Her designs and constructions are distinctive, colorful, precise and display a geometric purity of form and surface detail.

Payne grew up in Tacoma, WA but migrated to Ohio where he received his BFA in painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Payne continued his art education earning his MFA degrees in painting and sculpture from The City University of New York at Queens College. In 2011, Payne completed an 11 month long residency at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, North Carolina; where he currently calls home. Awards he has received include “Best Artist” from Charlotte Magazine in 2013, Creative Loafing’s ‘Best Emerging Artist’ of 2012 and ‘People’s Choice Award’ by Carolina’s Got Art.

Other noteworthy achievements consist of two art scholarships, The Sybil J. Gould Scholarship for Excellence in Drawing and The Wrobell Painting Scholarship. Today, you can find Payne working as a professor of painting at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina where he continues to produce work in his studio.

His new collection of works continues to display his reoccurring theme of our human relationship to architecture and the modern landscape. His images reflect an architectural environment in states of flux, shifting between modes of more literal representation and abstraction; perspectival spatial depth and surface pattern. The anonymous representation of figures and places encourage the viewers to relate their own experiences to these environments, while also thinking about the layers of shared history that the architecture presents. Despite his conceptual continuations, Payne’s newer works that will be featured in the show display a new, saturated palette as oppose to the more muted colors of his past works.

The spark of Prack’s interest in the arts ignited with the creation of an architectural design firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by her grandfather in the early 1900s. Her formal art education began at the University of Guelphin in Ontario, which continued on to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and Florida Atlantic University where she studied fine art and interior design. In combination with the extensive foundational experiences in the art world and Prack’s schooling, she was able to develop her own figurative sculpture style that transforms the visual language of form, color, line and texture into; what are to her, serious but spirited and elegant abstractions of the human form.

Much of Prack’s work exceeds the traditional limitations of clay construction without compromising the artistic integrity. Through time and experience, Prack has developed methods to overcome the intrinsic problems of clay when building large scale sculptures such as weight scale and kiln limitations. Beginning with a specially formulated clay body (suitable for large scale constructions), Prack hand builds each piece ranging from one to eight feet in height. After the initial bisque firing she applies glazes and/or stains, then fires once again to achieve the final colors and patterns.

“I work intuitively so the controlled flexibility I have with clay allows me to be spontaneous and in the moment. I love the process and challenge of using geometric shapes, spacial relationships, color, line and texture to create figurative sculpture that appear to come alive, each conveying real human qualities and emotions, " she says.

The New Gallery of Modern Art works to build collections of corporate and private clients ranging from new enthusiasts to serious connoisseurs. Their goal is to place the Masters of the 20th century within the reach of art advocates of all levels. The gallery offers the most significant privately-held collection of works by artists such as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Miro, Matisse, Basquiat, Lichtenstein and Warhol. To complement its portfolio of 20th century Modern Masters, New Gallery of Modern Art also showcases elite contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Hunt Slonem, Houben R.T., and Robert Mars, as well as a few renowned local and regional artists such as Maja Godlewska, Shaun Cassidy, Hoss Haley, Joe Walters and Willie Little.