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Gorelicks put their heart into art at CPCC

Bill Gorelick with carved glass titled “Bilboa HG 436” by artist Lino Tagliapietra. Behind is oil on linen titled " Sleepsong 11" by artist Brian Rutenberg at the new Patty and Bill Gorelick Gallery at CPCC Harris Campus.
Bill Gorelick with carved glass titled “Bilboa HG 436” by artist Lino Tagliapietra. Behind is oil on linen titled " Sleepsong 11" by artist Brian Rutenberg at the new Patty and Bill Gorelick Gallery at CPCC Harris Campus. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

The past six months has seen Central Piedmont Community College’s public visual arts offerings take a distinct upward turn in terms of both quality and, thanks donors Bill and Patty Gorelick, quantity as well.

Bill Gorelick announced recently that his family plans to pay for new galleries – and donate the art therein – at each of the six main CPCC campuses by the year 2020. Gorelick runs a family investment company and is one of the founding members of Shalom Park.

Just a year ago, CPCC President Tony Zeiss and Gorelick discussed their mutual admiration for the latter’s art collection. Since then, after an initial loan of 30 artworks to the Levine Campus (along with an assortment from the collection of Carol and Shelton Gorelick, Bill Gorelick’s sister-in-law and late brother), the family has made a magnanimous gift to the college in an effort to expose students to art.

Art collecting became a passion for Gorelick decades ago, when his Cuban cousin Isaac Luski’s fondness for North Carolina regional glasswork began rubbing off on the family. “Isaac got to know the artists (and) he bought in bulk,” said Gorelick, 80. “He would invite us over to his place, (and) after picking the pieces he liked best for himself, he would give us deals.”

It was these early pieces that really established Gorelick’s taste in artwork. And developing critical artistic thinkers and personal taste is something that the Gorelicks hope to instill in the students through the display of their collection.

Glass is the star of show at the newly opened Gorelick Galleries at CPCC’s Harris Campus, the first of the satellite campuses to open its new art-space. The collected works include pieces by Stephen Dee Edwards, whose work you may have seen uptown across from the public library at Theater Park and featured in the permanent collection at the Mint Museum, and internationally renowned Japanese glassblower Hiroshi Yamano.

“I wanted to focus on collecting different techniques,” Gorelick says, referencing the wide variety of makers and styles featured behind the galleries’ many glass cases.

At Harris, glass is represented in forms from the sublime to the surprising – artists like Kate Vogel and John Littleton play with opacity and organic forms while Michael Pavlik plays with geometry, prism forms and abstraction.

Variety continues to be a theme outside the featured three-dimensional glasswork. Thanks to the Jerald Melberg Gallery’s contribution to the first exhibition at the Harris Campus, painters and printmakers are getting their share of exposure on the gallery walls as well.

Works from CPCC’s own instructor, McColl Center artist-in-residence alumna and monotype printmaker Felicia van Bork, are on display, along with Gorelick’s favorites like Robert Motherwell – an internationally acclaimed abstract printmaker whose work the art patron extols for its simplicity and nuance.

The legendary collagist, painter and Charlottean Romare Bearden is represented among the initial offerings, too. A print of Bearden’s 1975 work “Baptism,” one in a short edition of only 50, sits proudly among its colorful peers.

It’s these moments that Vanessa Shelton Stolen, executive director of the CPCC Foundation, hopes will allow for a deeper connection between CPCC and Charlotte arts culture. “Art opens doors,” Stolen says. “Art opens conversations.”

This story was produced as part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance.

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