We’re knee-deep in the first full week of the holiday season, Wilmington—a time that affects everyone differently. Thanksgiving (or the day after) is typically the starting line: Either you found yourself stretched out on the sofa eating turkey in its third incarnation, or you flung yourself head-first into the hustle and bustle of the Black Friday experience in 3-D. Whatever the day looked like, I hope it ended with art, wine, friends, and a great cause at New Elements Gallery for their 30th annual Holiday Show.
The beloved downtown gallery that sits at the corner of Princess and 2nd streets is gliding into its 30th year with ease. Last Friday’s event and ongoing exhibition celebrates three decades of operation with works from new and old artists, who have had the pleasure of decking the walls throughout the years.
“I think the artists look forward to this show because it’s an opportunity for everyone to participate in a group exhibit,” says Merrimon Kennedy, owner of New Elements, “and there’s not that huge commitment of time or expense to create a huge body of work.”
This year over 40 artists submitted up to three works to be shown in the exhibit. It covers a variety of original paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, wood, and fiber creations. It’s always difficult to narrow down the choices of what to hang, but the large influx of submissions has the gallery brimming with back stock—over 90 percent of which is made in North Carolina. “My focus has always been on regional art,” Kennedy says. “It’s inspiring to see how much talent is in this state.”
The current exhibit marks local artist Ann Parks McCray’s eighth year with New Elements. Nature is her primary inspiration and, as an intuitive painter, she often lets her work evolve without the interference of planning, drawing or an overactive brain. Viewing her work in a full-length mirror allows her to see in the opposite direction and often moves her to flip a canvas a certain way or to choose different hues.
One of McCray’s three submissions, “Freedom in Flight,” highlights her richly textured impressionistic style. Her works typically garner a wide range of interpretations from viewers. At first glance, “Flight” easily could be an ancient village nestled in the canyons of Mesopotamia; however, it actually was inspired by a recent trip to the coast of Maine.
“The combination of shorebirds and rugged terrain, coupled with the promise of a deep winter coming on, fascinated me,” she shares. “The experience translated onto canvas through cool tones for landscape and architecture, and [the] simplicity of line and detail. The birds, though, are warmly lit and soaring [with] a sense of freedom even in the face of Mother Nature’s soon-to-arrive cold.”
With the cooler weather nipping at shopper’s heels, dipping into a local gallery for a little warmth, culture and unique gifts is always a welcome change from the retail norm.“Visiting an art gallery is something you can do with family, and it’s a wonderful way to support artists and the community,” McCray says. “It’s just a time to pause and enjoy, and I think to share people’s creative efforts is rejuvenating for everybody. Gazing into art and talking about it is a point of focus people can use to start a conversation.”
Always a topic of conversation is the fundraiser Kennedy holds every year in conjunction with the annual holiday show. This year proceeds from a raffle will go to the Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc. Also nearing their 30th year, the shelter’s mission is to eliminate violence against women and their children by empowering those affected to disrupt the cycle of domestic abuse.
“There are so many great nonprofits that are enabling our community to get the services they need,” Kennedy says, “[and] I know that there are many women, children and families that have been affected by domestic violence, so this was the right choice.”
Raffle tickets are available now at the gallery. They are sold separately for $5 and are included with every purchase of $25 or more until December 20. Each ticket is entered in a drawing for a $300 New Elements gift certificate, and a percentage of all sales and raffle tickets will go to the Domestic Violence Shelter at the close.
“I look at it as a way to say thank you to our clients for supporting us,” Kennedy says. “They know that every purchase they make this holiday season helps support this local community cause, so they’re getting and giving in two separate ways.”
Catch the fundraiser before it concludes on Saturday, December 20. The show hangs until January 3.
30th Annual Holiday Show
Artwork by over 40 artists, including: Betty Brown, Fritzi Huber, Ann Parks McCray, Mary Rountree Moore, Charles Robertson, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, Owen Wexler, and Dina Wilde-Ramsing
Hangs through Jan. 3
Tues. – Sat., 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
New Elements Gallery, 201 Princess St.