After more than a decade of honing his craft and feeding on the energy that is New York City, J. Adam McGalliard is back in Charlotte and starting to shake things up. The North Mecklenburg High School class of 1996 grad grew up in Huntersville and studied painting at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2002 McGalliard left the Carolinas to pursue his MFA from the prestigious New York Academy of Art.Since returning just over a year ago, McGalliard, 36, had his work featured in a solo exhibition at the Cornelius Arts Center and established himself as the manager and chief artist wrangler of sorts at Cube NoDa, a self-sustaining artist collective in a 3,000-square-foot warehouse that also serves as his studio space. McGalliard has lent his talent to at least three teaching positions, a strong passion that he intends to continue. He’s led workshops for the Arts and Science Council in area schools, taught painting for Davidson Parks and Recreation and serves as a teaching instructor for the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture.“I get energized by teaching,” McGalliard says, “I focus on the basics of technique and the fundamentals in my teaching. This serves as a great reminder for me and helps reframe my approach when it comes to my own work. With more experienced students I get excited when I see things click for them and when I can help them experience a breakthrough or an ‘aha’ moment. That’s special.”
Contemporary RealistMcGalliard characterizes his style as “contemporary realist” and builds upon his technical training in the French academy style that emphasizes attention to detail, anatomy, and brush precision. He also possesses a deep appreciation for color, an expanded understanding that grew from his many years working in the New York production studio of legendary pop artist, Jeff Koons.“Pink Magnolias” is a head and shoulders portrait of a steely blue eyed woman with her hair tightly pulled back and face set in a stern forward gaze. A calm lake with evergreens lining the shore serves as background and the model’s face and neck are seemingly enveloped by translucent pink magnolias suggesting a sense of internal thoughts projected outward.The piece was part of his recent show, “Introjection,” where he noted the projected layers found in his work, “add depth to seemingly traditional portraits and force the viewer to question the meanings.” His portraits can easily be mistaken for digital photographs to the casual observer, something McGalliard emphasizes they are not.“All paint,” says McGalliard. “It’s important for me to have people know that my portraits are painted using oil on linen. I use stretched linen on panel because I like the solidity of the panel and the absorption and texture of linen.”As to his return to Charlotte, McGalliard desired a slower, more economical venue to take his career to the next logical point, likely additional teaching and, of course, creating new work.“While there is certainly a mystique associated with art and artists from New York,” says McGalliard, “There’s no reason why great work can’t come out of places like Charlotte, too.”To purchase McGalliard’s work, contact him directly through his website, www.mcgalliard.net.