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Pumpkin-Spiced Vices: Sarah Rushing and Rx offer a dose of art for what ails you

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It’s that time again, Wilmington: The days are shortening, the leaves are falling and pretty soon the humidity will lift like spirits at dusk. As an added bonus, Halloween lands on a Friday this year. But let’s be real—the true fall-ballers will exercise their demons come Monday night. Case in point: Rx Bar and Restaurant and local fashion boutique Edge of Urge present “Vices: An Art Show and Halloween Party.”

lisa nez

HANGING AS PART OF VICES: Lisa Nez’s ‘Big Bourbon,’ 48” x 32”. Courtesy photo

“Vices” is a one-night-only pop-up art show, which will highlight the work of 28 diverse artists. This year marks local artist and curator extraordinaire Sarah Rushing’s third Halloween show at Rx. Her foray into art curating actually began at Caffé Phoenix in 2010, where she worked alongside nationally recognized mixologist Joel Finsel. He actually curated the restaurant’s monthly art displays until his departure. Rushing then took command of the restaurant’s monthly exhibits and hasn’t looked back. Today, her arms are full overseeing exhibits at Cape Fear Community College’s Wilma W. Daniels Gallery and wearing multiple hats at Rx.

Rx’s first Halloween show took place in 2012 with Rushing as the solo exhibitor. “A One Night Stand with Sarah Rushing” featured fourteen 3-by-4-inch nude portraits of friends. Each painted figure was masked, creating an elusively alluring masquerade party for all who attended.

“Most of the models were popular downtown [Wilmington] faces, so it was fun for people to come and guess who was who,” Rushing says. “It was exciting playing with the idea of anonymity, and interesting to witness how that idea really empowered every single one of the models by allowing them to be more comfortable in their own skin.”

The success of the show earned Rushing the title of “Curator of Rx” where her provocative themes have since fueled 10 successful exhibits; “Vices” seeks to continue the streak.

“When you think about dealing with a vice, it’s not easy,” local artist Bryce Flint-Somerville says. “It’s not a fun thing [and] it’s not a laughing matter. I applaud Sarah for picking [this theme] because it would be easier to pick something like ‘weirdness’ or something that’s a little less confrontational or more comfortable for our viewers to see.”

Flint-Somerville trained as an actor at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and has been a member of the Blue Man Group since 2007. Although he’s no longer a full-time Blue Man, he travels regularly to fill in for other members. Now, his primary job as an at-home dad provides new sources of creativity, as well as lots of time to perfect his craft.   

“Vices” will be Flint-Somerville’s third time presenting his work at Rx. One of his most memorable pieces was displayed at the “Libations” show back in March. Blending old and new, it depicted a 20-foot tall robot shining its cycloptic beam on a hillbilly at his still, who happily offers his jug of hooch to the metallic titan. The piece was intricately cut from paper with an X-Acto blade (a medium he’s worked with for the last five years); however, this show’s theme is pointing him in an abstract direction. His planned two-part piece, “The Way In” and “The Way Out,” will take him away from his tried-and-true medium. Instead of paper, he will utilize corrugated cardboard to create a relief—a sculptural technique in which figures project from a supporting background.

“For me, vices produce a lot of shame,” he tells. “I feel I should be bigger than the vice. I think what my piece is trying to convey is how difficult it is to get out of it, but the possibility that you can get out.”

Rushing knows something about overcoming vices, too. An untitled painting she’s displaying depicts her long-gone smoking habit in a literal fashion. In it a large hand hovers in the foreground of the canvas—a cigarette wedged between index and middle finger. Her impressionistic brushstrokes, coupled with her signature warm-colored acrylics, create a familiar yet eerie juxtaposition for kissing death on the regular.

“When I think about vices, I think: bad habits, immoral behavior, wrongdoing, the seven deadly sins, having a dark side, and general wickedness—that’s why it’s the perfect theme for a Halloween party,” she explains. “And because I have a dark side, and you have a dark side, and everyone in this world has a dark side, let’s explore it. Let’s talk about it. Let’s get it out in the open.”

“Vices” opens for one night only on Monday, October 27, with live music by OTB (Marwhoa and DJ SET). A bar menu will be available until midnight, but the art flows until 2 a.m.


Vices: An Art Show and Halloween Party

Artwork by: Carleigh Sion, Lisa Nez, Blair Nidds, Topher Alexander, Emily Jones, Lizz Wells, Elizabeth Oglesby, PHFW, Christa Pun-Chuen, Mark Weber, Taylor Hamilton, Gussy Olesky, Alex Barlow, Smith Marks, Dallas Thomas, Mallory Baty, Heather McLelland, Nina Bays Cournoyer, Bryan Cournoyer, Clay O’Neal, Dylan Morgan, Kaitlyn Henderson, Addie Wuensch, Trey Alber, Sarah Nilson, Ally Favory, Travis Fowler, and Sarah Rushing
Monday, October 27, 8 p.m.
Rx Restaurant and Bar
421 Castle St. • 910-399-3080

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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