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July 5 - September 7, 2003


When Carla Hanzal assumed responsibilities as Curator of Contemporary Art last November (2002) at Charlotte's Mint Museum of Art, she inherited a program largely dormant the past several years -- with one immediate exception. Scheduled for the 2003 summer slot was an exhibition tentatively entitled Inviting a Second Look, where selected Carolina artists from the 2002 juried exhibition Celebrating the Legacy of Romare Bearden were to be invited for a more in-depth presentation of their work. Part of the guiding criteria was to select artists who exemplified some of the salient themes and influences in Bearden's own work, thereby referencing the exhibition from which it originated. (left: Tarleton Blackwell, Las Meninas)

"What I sought from the original Celebrating the Legacy exhibition were works that reveal a reverence for memory, imagination and sense of place, that reference art history and myth, and that explore issues of personal and cultural identity in contemporary terms,' stated Hanzal. "The connection to Bearden would be thematic and pertain to content found within his large body of work."

After visiting the studios of a dozen artists, six were selected. The exhibition title became Passing, intended to be provocative in suggesting pertinent themes such as the fleeting nature of time, the exploration of identity and the conscious and unconscious practice of masking or concealment. Included are paintings, sculpture, altered books and two installations specific to the exhibition by Tarleton Blackwell (Manning, SC), Chandra Cox (Raleigh, NC), Juan Logan (Chapel Hill, NC), Mikel Robinson (Charlotte, NC), Janet Shaefer/Dot Blue (Reidsville, NC) and Brad Thomas (Charlotte, NC).

Juan Logan and Chandra Cox use sculptural means to reveal the history of the forced exodus from Africa into waiting slave ships. (left: Dot Blue, Grail Quest)

Logan will create an installation specifically for the Mint Museums exhibition, including a boat floating on a sea of masks, indicating a passage and shift of identity. Logan continues to mine history and "in doing so, prevents the willful erasure of particular and painful African-American histories. The ghosts cannot be erased because they are the very foundation from which we have emerged," stated the artist.

Cox creates upright sculptures with a hollow center signifying "the doors of entry into the violence and degradation of slavery, as well as the initial point at which the history of the African-Americans begins." Both artists incorporate African patterns and markings as elements in their artwork, indicating a search for self and meaning within the context of a broader cultural heritage.

Brad Thomas and Mikel Robinson employ recycled and reappointed materials, such as old photographs, recycled books and materials and images gleaned from thrift shops.

Robinson most often uses discarded clothing and vintage photographs to comment on the fleeting nature of time and to reveal suggested histories of the anonymous individuals depicted in the photographs. For this exhibition, he will create an installation entitled Arrive/Depart.

Thomas's explorations are more personal as he begins with his personal/artistic journals, which are then transformed through collage and painting. He plays with language and pattern to make open-ended statements suggesting a multiplicity of experiences. Particular pages of the journals are enlarged and further manipulated and obscured, yet made open to public scrutiny, in doing so he both reveals and conceals information.

Tarleton Blackwell and Dot Blue take inspiration from the particular place in which they reside: the rural landscape with its animal inhabitants, as well as the landscape of fantasy and imagination.

Blackwell has been working on his "Hog Series" for 17 years and has created over 200 paintings. He created complex narrative themes pertaining to life and death, humor and fear, interior and exterior, the real and the imagined. His painterly style and use of extraordinary scale suggest the transformation and transportation of common objects or individuals into the mythic realm.

Dot Blue works in the tradition of naïve artists as she creates expressive paintings that incorporate animals and masks. This subject matter suggests internal journeys and transformations, as well as and the inter-connectedness of species. She utilizes patterns of dots to suggest interchanging of molecules or the dissolution of the ego.

"Many of her works are open to interpretation as she entices through pattern and form, seeking to engage the viewer before perception and scrutiny begins," remarked Hanzal.

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