On St. Patrick’s Day, exactly two years ago, New Elements Gallery opened their doors after relocating from Front Street to the corner of Princess and Second. Taking a chance and looking for an opportunity to grow the well-established art gallery, Merrimon Kennedy chose the month of March carefully. Closely associated with the color green, the month draws connotations to harmony, balance, renewal, rebirth, and regrowth.
On this second anniversary, New Elements’ new location has proved a thriving space. Flooded with natural light, the high ceilings and diverse collection of art work make it one of the city’s most vibrant spaces. Their new exhibit, “Going Green,” features a collection of work by gallery artists, including Catherine Martin and Ann Parks McCray. From abstract landscapes to a garden in Tuscany, artists were welcomed to interpret green, whether in color form, environmental frames, or simply by the famed March holiday so many associate it with. By this criteria only, Kennedy states, “The title of the show may be interpreted a variety of ways, undoubtedly left to the viewer’s discretion.”
The prolific Ann Parks McCray’s large, abstract works have been a fixture at New Elements. Working in oil, McCray uses bold colors and brush strokes to abstractly capture her natural surroundings. “My work allows a wide range of personal interpretation by the viewer and invites contemplation as well as visual pleasure,” McCray says.
Originally a stoneware potter, thick layers of paint give her work a sculptural quality, reflective of her earlier 3Ds. A sense of life and movement is extremely important to McCray, as she often rotates her canvases, as well as uses non-conventional materials, such as spatula’s and wooden sticks, to achieve the desired texture and life.
“While a painting captures an impression of a moment, experience, or locale, the individual interpretation by viewers completes the artistic circle and gives the work meaning,” McCray states. Her work, though suggestive of a setting, allows viewers to create their own experience and relationship to the work. For instance, “Orchard Sunrise” uses texture and dots of paints to create a tropical world far removed from our own.
Like McCray, Raleigh-based artist Catherine Martin uses paint to transport worlds. A native North Carolinian, Martin began painting at the age of 10. She later settled into a career of art education, as well as became the director of a television studio. Ultimately, becoming a full-time painter in 1998.
Luscious with the greenery of spring, Martin’s “Road to Tuscany” captures the changing light of a Tuscan afternoon. The winding road disappears behind the trees, and allows minds to wonder what lies at the end.
Often painting Italian landscapes, her effervescent art consists of the alla-prima style. In essence, a painting is finished in one sitting. Still, Martin’s work is energetic, spontaneous and full of vibrant colors. She describes it as“a very personal experience that comes from the soul and reflects both sorrow and joy in life.”
“Going Green” also features the nature-inspired, abstract oil paintings of Sally Sutton; Priscilla Whitlock’s impressionistic, marsh landscapes; Robert Irwin’s photograph-inspired renderings of man-made structures; Janet S. Triplett’s old-world, master-painting inspired still life’s and landscapes; as well as Catherine Lea’s precise paintings of the world around her; and Rebecca Humphrey’s multi-media collages that are both painterly and sculptural in their execution.
Kennedy has created a thread of connection between the artists who work in vastly different styles. Showcasing their exemplary work, the exhibition celebrates “green” but also the rejuvenation of spring. In perfect syncopation, it parallels New Elements’ own, very successful rebirth onto our art scene now for 29 years.
“Going Green” will be on display through March 22nd.
Hangs through March 22nd
New Elements Art Gallery
201 Princess Street • (910) 343-8997
Tues. – Sat., 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., or by appointment