Local Arts

2016-17 visual arts preview: Look for zing in small places

While there’s always something to see at our local museums, a lot of the excitement this season will be found at smaller venues.

[Find where you’re going on our interactive map and find the visual arts calender here. You can check the rest of the calendar by discipline, too: classical music (plus pops, jazz and more); dance; theater; literary events; pop music.]

“Seeing | Saying: Images and Words,” Oct. 20-Dec. 9, is the sort of show I’d love to see at the Mint Museum of Art, but you’ll be making the short trek to Davidson College Art Galleries for this one. This provocative, often political exhibition will include work by contemporary artists John Baldessari, Howard Finster, Christian Marclay, Shirin Neshat, Dennis Oppenheim, Susan Harbage Page, Raymond Pettibon, Hank Willis Thomas, David Wojnarowicz and others. Complementing “Seeing | Saying” is “Bethany Collins: In Evidence,” which uses historical and government documents, classroom tools and other materials to explore race and language.

UNC Charlotte’s Projective Eye Gallery and The Light Factory are collaborating on “Heightened Perspectives,” featuring experimental lens-based works by Phil Solomon and Ethan Jackson. At Projective Eye (Sept. 16-Nov. 30), filmmaker Solomon’s “American Falls” will be projected on a gallery wall; Jackson’s optic installation will fill the gallery window. In conjunction with this show, Charlotte-based artist Sharon Dowell has created a mural, “A City on Its Side.” The Light Factory (Nov. 18-Jan. 6) will feature a video projection by Jackson and an experimental film “Twilight Psalm II: ‘Walking Distance’” by Solomon.

Museum highlights

“Santana,” a mesmerizing, maddening kinetic sculpture by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, turns 50 this year. In honor of this birthday, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is presenting “Celebrating Jean Tinguely and ‘Santana,’ ” May 12-Sept. 10, 2017. Tinguely used discards and scrap material to make kinetic artwork. This exhibition explores several bodies of kinetic work, drawings and studies, and films and videos that document, among other things, Tinguely’s self-destructing machines.

At the Mint Uptown, don’t miss “Women of Abstract Expressionism,” (Oct. 22-Jan. 17). This groundbreaking exhibition, organized by the Denver Art Museum, has garnered national attention. It features 12 artists including big guns such as Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell, the enigmatic Jay DeFeo and the recently rediscovered Judith Godwin. Concurrent is “Fired Up: Women in Glass,” the first exhibition of its kind, organized by the Mint and the Toledo Museum of Art.

“Quilts and Social Fabric” at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (through Jan 16) features work by a dozen artists/groups, including story quilts by the legendary Faith Ringgold, quilt-like and quilt-inspired works by Lillian Blades and Kevin Cole, and quilts from the quilting ministries at Charlotte’s Little Rock AME Zion Church and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

Artists to catch

If you’re interested in what Charlotte-based artists are up to, 2016-17 is shaping up to be a good year. Here are just some of the artists whose work you can catch: Amy Herman, Stacey Davidson and Jason Watson at Central Piedmont Community College; Nellie Ashford at the Gantt; Ivan Toth Depeña at McColl Center for Art + Innovation; Kit Kube at UNC Charlotte; and Charles Williams at Winthrop University Galleries. (Commercial galleries are also investing in local talent; see their schedules in the Galleries listing.)

Among the faculty exhibitions at college and university galleries, take special note of two shows at Winthrop, honoring department chair Tom Stanley (through Sept. 23) and photography professor Phil Moody (Dec. 2-Mar. 10).These beloved, accomplished artists, who have devoted years to university and community, are now leaving Winthrop to pursue art-making full time.

Alt projects

The peripatetic Goodyear Arts (formerly Skyline Artists in Residence), currently located at 516 N. College St., now has a dedicated exhibition space where visitors can view work Wednesday through Saturday, in addition to enjoying festive monthly showcases. Upcoming artists-in-residence are Renee Cloud, Andy McMillan, Jeff Jackson, Dylan Gilbert, Grace Stott and Andrea Vail.

Goodyear may be the biggest artist-run, artist-focused project to emerge recently, but others have enlivened the scene too. It looks as if this much-needed, much appreciated trend is not stopping.

Recently, we have enjoyed low-budget, sometimes-short-notice projects such as “Cherry Pie” at Union Shop Studio, “Dada Soiree” (through Sept. 16) and “No Vacancy” at C3 Lab, and The Dwelling. Then there was “80x80” at the Mint; this exhibition, heavy on contemporary regional artists, was created not by Mint staff but by volunteers from the Young Affiliates of Mint. (Disclosure: I was in “80x80.”)

The best way to find about these alternative projects is through HappeningsCLT – another important low-budget operation, the work of Lia Newman of Davidson, Grace Cote of Melberg Gallery and Kati Stegall of Charlotte Area Transit System – through their blog and weekly Charlotte Observer columns.

Barbara Schreiber is a painter who periodically writes about visual art. Her art has been shown in PS1, the High Museum of Art and more; her writing has appeared in Art Papers, Sculpture magazine and others.

Now how about performing arts?

Get expert guidance on what’s most exciting on those fronts from Lawrence Toppman and Theoden Janes.