It could be argued we are currently experiencing an artistic renaissance of sorts locally. Progressive acceptance of contemporary art by locals continues to honor the legacy of creativity, both past and present. A beacon of this constant evolution is the Cameron Art Museum. In its latest draw to include local artists in its exhibition halls, CAM has been calling out work from local artists to showcase in “Wilmington Collects Art,” now showing through June 1st.
Opening up the doors of the vault, 52 pieces were chosen from the collection and people were asked to vote online. The top 25 pieces now hang, created by museum-goers and locals alike.
“Voters were allowed to vote for their top three, and that was pooled to make the top 25,” Kim Kelly, the museum’s communications manager, says. “The voting process makes this CAM’s first crowd-sourced and curated exhibition.”
The 52 artists whose work was voted on are both living and deceased, which additionally highlights the longevity of the creative spirit in Wilmington and its perseverance. Many well-knowns will showcase work, including Claude Howell, Dick Roberts, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, Bruce Bowman, Minnie Evans, Billy Cone, Wayne McDowell, Dixon Stetler, Elizabeth Darrow, Fritzi Huber, Abby Spangel Perry, and Michael Van Hout, among a host of others. Many have a strong presence in the Wilmington arts, and greatly impacted and influenced the artistic culture. Some draw connections to other associations, as well, like Acme Art Studio, No Boundaries Art Colony and Wabi Sabi Warehouse. A lot of the artists have endured years of friendship and shared inspiration. This exhibition functions as a way to see how artists are influenced by one another. Twenty-five pieces are cozily displayed in the last gallery space of the Brown Wing. (Diane Landry’s “Flying School” was displayed there).
Winding through the gallery, one will see Harry Taylor’s photography and Bruce Cameron’s beloved duck decoys. Nestled in the back corner is “Wilmington Collects Art,”
Illuminated in its center is Dixon Stetler’s “Annual” chandelier. From paintings to sculpture, each work shows off uniquely individual output but resonates with unity. Perhaps it’s because we know these artists all share a commonality in where they lived, and they all possess a vibrant artist’s touch. From the essence of implicit tranquility evoked by Wayne McDowell’s “Interior Still Life,” to the kindness and introspection that radiates from Elsie Boyce’s “Romare Bearden,” the gallery surely incites conversation among viewers. Michael Van Hout’s “Oryx 2” features hard lines softened by Abby Spangel Perry’s “Frog Anatomy,” which manages a few high-school biology memories.
Local artist Fritzi Huber states, “Being chosen to be a part of this art exhibition was a great honor. The artists participating are such an excellent representation of the arts in Wilmington.”
Huber’s “Eng and Chang” was inspired by her childhood. She married the idea of making a piece for a toy exhibition based on her memories of twins she met in Haiti. Yet, somehow the idea evolved even further from the roots of NC.
“Growing up I had two friends who were conjoined twins,” Huber says. “So when Deborah Velders, the previous museum director, approached me about making something for a toy exhibition, I knew I wanted to create a doll that was representative of my friends. They were conjoined at the head, and I didn’t want this to be a misinterpretation. So, I decided to make the conjoined twins Eng and Chang Bunker who were born in Siam (now Thailand) and gave birth to the term Siamese twins. After traveling the world in a ‘curiosity tour,’ the brothers settled in Wilkesboro, NC, and became extremely successful farmers. Between the two of them, they had 20 children, and they still have living family members and every year have a huge reunion. I decided to portray them for their perhaps unknown connection to North Carolina.”
Many artists often have stated that when they create something, a piece of themselves becomes entrenched within their work. Since creative inspiration comes from within the self, it’s appropriately fitting that each of the unique works in “Wilmington Collects Art” posses an otherworldly illumination. The show will hang through June 1st.
DETAILS: Wilmington Collects Art Featuring works from 25 artists CAM, Brown Wing 3201 S. 17th Street Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursdays, until 9 p.m. On display through June 1st