Built between 1859 and 1861, The Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Design Arts is known as a staple of downtown Wilmington. Admired for its pristine preservation of original antebellum architecture, Bellamy currently works to bring members of the community together through a variety of special events and exhibitions. On Wed. April 5, the museum will hold the opening reception of their newest art show, “Wilmington Then and Now,” at 6:30 p.m. The exhibit will showcase over 50 local artists as they capture historic and modern beauty of the Port City, in a variety of mediums—painting, pastel, drawing, stained glass, and more.
“We decided to call the show ‘Wilmington Then and Now’ because it allows for the artist to choose between past and modern eras regarding their subject,” says museum event chair Toni Radcliff. “There’s so much beauty in this city from the architecture, bridges and riverfront, to the natural flora and fauna.”
Radcliff often volunteers for event planning at the mansion, and helped plan “Wilmington Then and Now” as an inclusive opportunity for emerging artists. It began two years ago when Bellamy aligned with the arts community for a debut exhibit.
“We held an emerging artist show at the mansion because we wanted to give artists who may not be in the professional world an opportunity to showcase their talents without any intimidation,” Radcliff explains. “There are so many creative people in town.”
After its success, executive director Gareth Evans wanted to incorporate more events throughout the year to draw new members of the community to the mansion. His goal was to expose folks who may have never visited—or returned to visit.
“The Bellamy is on the tour for the Azalea Garden Festival this year,” Radcliff adds. “We thought the timing of the art show would allow for tourists to be exposed to the mansion [and] creativity and talent among our local citizens who make this city such a great place to live in and visit.”
The theme of the show, “Wilmington Then and Now,” fits perfectly with the tour as it enlightens visitors with different perspectives of Wilmington throughout time. It essentially provides a blank canvas for artists to explore, too, according to Radcliff. The participating artists in the show were required to submit their work by Mar. 15 with a fee to go toward monetary prizes, and adhere to size requirements and theme of the show to be guaranteed a spot. The art show is not a juried exhibit. “We decided anyone who wanted to participate could as long as they met the criteria for the theme and submitted on time,” she adds.
While work submitted didn’t go through judging to be shown, an adjudication process will take place to determine the first- second- and third-place winners, as well as honorable-mention recipients. Artists Joanne Q. Giesel and Gale Smith will choose.
Giesel is an American impressionist painter who specializes in capturing the Carolina Coast. She is a faculty member at the Cameron Art Museum, and her work can be viewed locally at Spectrum Gallery and Latana’s Gallery and Fine Gifts.
Smith, a plein-air painter, was the former director of Cape Cod School of Art and has recently adopted the method of creating multi-dimensional paintings using copper panels.
“Wilmington Then and Now” will open at the Bellamy Mansion on Wednesday, April 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a cash bar and light refreshments featured for guests. All artwork is for sale, and 30 percent of the proceeds go to benefit the Bellamy Mansion Museum’s future community projects. The artwork will continue to hang in the museum until May 26, 2017. A closing reception will take place on the final day of the exhibit.