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John Gall and twelve other NC artists exhibit drawings at the NCMA

CVNC: AN ONLINE ARTS JOURNAL OF NORTH CAROLINA
Visual Arts Review

THROUGH 3/8: Line, Touch, Trace
At the NCMA, in the East Building
by K. Porter Aichele
September 5, 2014 – Raleigh, NC:

John Gall, The Babel Makers, 2003
ink and ink washes on paper, 40 x 32 inches.
Reproduced with permission of the artist.

North Carolina Museum of Art: EXHIBITION: Line, Touch, Trace 

The thirteen artists featured in Line, Touch, Trace live and work in North Carolina. That is all they have in common, yet their drawings make for a satisfyingly coherent and visually appealing exhibition. Curated by Edie Carpenter, Director of Curatorial and Artistic Programs at GreenHill in Greensboro, NC, in consultation with Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of ArtLine, Touch, Trace is the first drawing exhibition presented in the museum’s North Carolina Gallery. The gallery is located just beyond the information desk at the entrance to the East Building.

In a curatorial statement beneath snazzy signage announcing the exhibition title, Carpenter introduces the hand-drawn line, the smudged touch of an artist’s fingers, and traced marks as visible expressions of imaginative thought. She expands on her succinct introduction to the exhibition in an interview published in the Fall, 2014, edition of the North Carolina Museum of Art’sPreview. There she notes that the immediacy of drawing gives the viewer privileged access to the creative process. Brief commentaries on each artist’s work are contained in wall texts unobtrusively interspersed throughout the exhibition. These reflections mercifully avoid didactic explanations in favor of thoughtful insights into relationships between medium and content. A combination of graphite, watercolor, and encaustic on panel viscerally conveys what Carpenter calls the “epidermal quality” of Tamie Beldue’s Float (2013). In Hospiceand Move, both from 2012, Kiki Farish adds a layer of textured pencil strokes over partially erased words and images to build up surfaces that evoke the “fluctuating nature of memory.”

Materials used in the thirty-two drawings on display are as diverse as the artists themselves, ranging from age-old traditional to up-to-the-minute contemporary. John Hill Jr.’s droll fantasies are rendered in ink applied in dots and small squares to parody the four-color printing process of comic books; Matthew Micca’s topographic abstractions are color fields stained with ballpoint pens (Fig. 1); and Lori Esposito’s improbably symmetric plant forms hover on double-sided Mylar supports. With respect to style, the works represent an expansive concept of drawing that embraces Selena Beaudry’s loose, gestural Color Pencil Tracing #2 (2013) as well as the exquisitely wrought detail of the serpents in Ippy Patterson’s Escape from Eden (2003). In the many densely detailed drawings on display, obsessive repetition produces a wide variety of effects, among them the feathery, vibrant red fronds that couch the figures in Kreh Mellick’s Three Girls (2013) and the delicate, lacy transparency of the scrim that hangs on the surface of Kenn Kotara’s Making My Way(2011).

Some of the subjects are drawn from sources as familiar as the Bible, while others are inscrutably personal. Joyce’s Calendar (1995) is one of hundreds of works in which Viennese-born Fritz Janschka examines his own penchant for graphic inventions through the filter of James Joyce’s literary imagination. (I know this because I have been married to him for 38 years.) Jason Watsonshows a predilection for popular American culture rather than highbrow Irish literature, assembling odd assortments of found objects into ensembles animated by strong tonal contrasts. Whether literary in inspiration or based on direct observation of visible reality, most of the drawings are original interpretations of venerable art-historical traditions. Patterson’s Escape from Eden unfolds in a hybridized format that reorients the Japanese handscroll and rethinks illustrated books in the western tradition. Mellick’s small drawings update the English Arts and Crafts approach to book illustration, whereas Kotara quite literally ramps up the size and scale of botanical illustrations. In hisCategory Two (2010) minuscule half-circles proliferate into aggregates of botanical motifs that at first glance resemble strings or spirals of algae seen under a microscope and on closer scrutiny the intricate floral designs in Japanese pattern books.

Other artists in the exhibit ion tap into a rich history of architectural drawings. Isaac Payne and John Gall are as different as Giovanni Battista Piranesi and M. C. Escher, two of their predecessors in this regard. Payne integrates recognizable figures in spaces that are at once illusionistic and abstract – an effect created by framing images of three-dimensional urban structures with collaged paper. Since Payne’s settings consciously reference museum architecture, it is entirely fitting that The Steps (2010) is hung to mirror the perspective of visitors descending the central staircase of the East Building, where the exhibition is mounted. In contrast to the disquieting disconnect between the figures and their monumental setting in Payne’s Billboard (2013), the quirky, pot-bellied figures in John Gall’sThe Babel Makers (2003, Fig. 2) are humorously displaced in a tower of architectural facades, neatly arranged in chronological order.

To their credit, Carpenter and the North Carolina Museum of Art designers made the most of the awkward, if prominent, space of the gallery designated since 2010 to work by North Carolina artists. They installed the exhibition in such a way that diagonal walls of different lengths are utilized to the artists’ advantage. Their groupings give space to the large works that need it and a more intimate viewing space to clusters of smaller works. In one instance Carpenter and her collaborators even capitalized on the proximity of a sculpture in the museum’s permanent collection, juxtaposing three of Beldue’s acrobatic silhouettes to the shadow cast by Bob Trotman’s suspended Vertigo (2010).

The public opening was billed as a “meet the artists” event, and all were in attendance. Having traveled from across the state, they might well have expected a modest reception, but there was none. Line, Touch, Trace is on view until March 8, 2015, so for those who missed the opening, there is ample time to plan a visit. GreenHill is sponsoring a road trip on Saturday, October 4th, with talks by participating artists and a tour of the exhibition followed by lunch at Iris, the museum’s restaurant; for details see GreenHill’s website. Any additional programming will be posted on the North Carolina Museum of Art’s website.

Supporting Art in Hard Times (January 2010)

INDEPENDENT WEEKLY
Visual Art 
27 January 2010

SUPPORTING ART IN HARD TIMES: PLUS, A SHOW OF KEY TAR HEEL ARTISTS 
Prints for the people
By Dave Delcambre

American Realism from the WPA Era
Adam Cave Fine Art
Through Feb. 16

More than 200,000 works of art were produced under the auspices of the famed Depression-era Works Progress Administration. The WPA’s Federal Art Project (FAP) was founded in 1935 as an important plank of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and remained in existence until 1943. Several works produced under this regime can be seen this month in a print show on view at Adam Cave Fine Art.

By government mandate, the WPA bore the challenge of establishing a conceptual framework for art that suited American culture. In other words, it needed to be democratic and accessible, rather than theoretical or elitist. Accordingly, the FAP program is especially known for the myriad public art projects it supported, such as murals and posters placed in post offices, schools, libraries, hospitals and other public settings .

Less well known, however, is the large number of printmakers who participated in the program. Printmaking in the 1930s was an established popular form, and many viewers were already accustomed to handcrafted visual artwork. With this built-in audience in mind, the FAP began providing access to materials, presses, print workshop support and even educational assistance when needed. Printmaking is demanding, process-oriented and often a team effort; its resemblance to traditional guilds only aided the artists’ identification with their working-class subjects.

The printmakers found a kinship with workers who were struggling through the Depression. In this show, you can find images of a construction worker signaling a crane operator, steel workers riding a beam high above a New York skyline, a potter turning a bowl in the studio and farmers tending the rolling hills of their farmland. Well-known artists like Grant Wood, John Marin, Rockwell Kent and Thomas Hart Benton are represented, as well as less familiar names, such as Herschel Levit, Lawrence Kupferman and Reynold Weidenaar—whose image of a locomotive factory is jaw-dropping in its intricacy and line work and is, in fact, worth a visit by itself.

The show is timely with its overtones of WPA optimism situated within perilous economic times that echo our own—although today’s audiences might wonder where the optimism is now. Still, Raleigh is working to broaden the presence of art in the community, notably through its belated half-percent for public art initiative, which is already facing criticism in its association with the proposed $205 million Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center. Now is a time to consider what a show of Depression-era art has to tell us about the relationship between artists and their communities.

Back in the day, the FAP got it right. Would that today’s crisis were met with a similar largeness of spirit and purpose. Artists working today deserve the same assistance and opportunities provided in the Great Depression. The fact that we still celebrate the work of the WPA era shows what a worthwhile investment it was.

Depression-Era Art Carries Timely message (January 2010)

NEWS & OBSERVER
Life, etc. 
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

DEPRESSION-ERA ART CARRIES TIMELY MESSAGE 
By Luciana Chavez, Staff Writer

RALEIGH – Shadows of the past will creep up on the present if an upcoming art exhibit, depicting America after the Great Depression, accomplishes its goal.

Adam Cave Fine Art will display and sell 25 prints depicting “American Realism from the WPA era” starting Jan. 22. The pieces capture America at a time of great economic turmoil, when the U.S. government created agencies such as the Works Progress Administration to put people back to work.

Gallery owner Adam Cave thinks the themes in the show will resonate with Americans wrestling with the current recession.

“In the fine art world, it’s not always easy to put on an exhibit that is timely from a social or political perspective,” Cave says. “We’re excited to be doing that, too.”

A third of the pieces, all owned by a single collector, were made under the auspices of the WPA. The others are similar in theme, content and time period to the WPA works.

The artistic legacy of the WPA era can be seen in murals created for government buildings, in the way the art was shared in schools and libraries, thus making it more democratic and accessible, and through the growth of the American Realism and Regionalism movements.

“The idea that metro areas or institutions like New York City, which had become the major art center of that time, and Wall Street were on the wrong track goes with the idea that an Iowa farmer or Missouri cattle raiser, who represent other parts of America, should be represented in art as well,” says Timothy Riggs, curator of collections at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The exhibit features works by Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, the man behind the iconic piece “American Gothic.” Both are considered experts of Regionalism.

“What regionalists benefitted from to some extent was a general disillusion in the 1930s with the way things were going,” Riggs says.

A worker’s plight

At a time when workers had been knocked back, the art showed their plight and the heroism behind their simple lives. Wood’s piece “In the Spring” shows a smiling farmer posing in front of his farm land.

One of the Benton pieces shows people harvesting wheat, clouds racing across the sky and grain stalks rustling in the breeze. Samuel Margolies’ piece “Builders of Babylon” shows two men atop steel beams high above the New York skyline.

Cave and his wife, Cindy, who own the gallery, are, for the first time, presenting a historical show. The Caves represent local artists and have a specific interest in contemporary North Carolina printmaking. They’ve been fans of printmaking – lithographs, woodcuts, aquatints – for years. The WPA-era prints were a good fit.

“I think as a medium printmaking has been misunderstood by the public,” Cave says, referring to reproduced posters people buy in museum or poster shops. “If you dig a little deeper, it’s a wonderful medium used for hundreds of years but it’s been overshadowed for the last 75 to 100 years. If we can provide a context for the work of contemporary printmakers, it would be great.”

Gallery Nomads (June 2009)

88.5 WFDD: YOUR NPR AND TRIAD ARTS STATION 
Triad Arts Up Close 
June 25, 2009

GREEN HILL CENTER FOR NC ART: GALLERY NOMADS 
Hosted by David Ford

A round table discussion with three of the curators and gallery owners behind Gallery Nomads, a collaborative exhibit in Greensboro involving six Raleigh galleries.

New Gallery Realizes Dream (March 2008)

NEWS & OBSERVER
Art and Living
Sunday, March 9th, 2008

NEW GALLERY REALIZES DREAM
By Michele Natale, Correspondent

RALEIGH – Climbing up the stairs of the Heilig-Levine building at 115 E. Hargett St., I am accessing Adam Cave’s cherished dream: his own gallery.

After 10 years as gallery director at Raleigh’s Gallery C, Cave, 38, with his wife, Cindy, has taken the leap this leap year.

Of his time at Gallery C, Cave has nothing but good things to say. “I had a great time there,” he says. “I got to work for my father for the first time, and that was very gratifying for me.”

Cave’s father, Joseph Cave, has become one of the area’s most popular artists, known for his bold impasto style. Represented at Gallery C for years, the elder Cave, 72, now is represented in Raleigh exclusively by his son’s new gallery.

“After hitting the 10-year mark,” Adam Cave says, “there was a certain status quo at that point and I was ready for some changes.”

Those changes include a new model for his business, which he says will not be based on retail.

“I am interested in being of service to my artists and collectors,” he says. “It’s more a question of us all growing together.” He plans to limit the gallery’s stable to about 25 artists.

Cave also plans to distinguish his gallery from others in the Triangle with a focus on fine art prints, which are stored in flat files in one room of the suite his gallery occupies.

Opening the files for a hands-on look, he takes out a selection of limited edition mezzotints (40 to 50 prints) by Donald Furst. Doors open into rooms that open doors into other rooms, hinting of hidden spaces in these mysterious, delicate unframed prints, which range in price from $175 to $250.

He pulls out some of his father’s copperplate landscape etchings, reminiscent of similar works by 19th-century impressionists. These, too, sell in the $200 range, providing an affordable opportunity for collectors to own work by an artist whose canvases now fetch several thousands.

Cave’s new space is unconventionally configured, a suite of two rooms straddling either side of a stairwell. He has secured the landing for purposes of showing art, and Stephen Aubuchon’s gauzy dance photographs, which recently graced the walls of Through This Lens Gallery, animate the space.

The gallery features turn-of-the-century chair rails and beadboard wainscoting painted putty tan, and plaster walls with molding from which all the works of art are suspended. Venerable wide-planked floors roll over century-old floor joists. Generous street-front windows flood the gallery with bright light.

In the 1960s, Cave says, the room where we’re sitting served as prominent African-American attorney Fred Carnage’s office. On this unseasonably warm March Saturday, the gallery is enlivened by the banter of clients of the barbershop below.

The walls are covered with art by names familiar to the Triangle art scene — abstract expressionist paintings by Wayne Trapp, geometric abstractions by Wayne Taylor, a Joseph Cave landscape and a still life, and a painting by Matt Lively.

There are new names, too. Cave is introducing Pinehurst artist David Hewson to the area. According to Cave, Hewson studied in the classical atelier system in Italy, then studied the art of gilding in Switzerland. He makes use of these two disciplines in figural work set in carved and gilded backgrounds. His work ranges in feeling from Italian Renaissance to art nouveau.

Cave also plans to specialize in art glass, and several of California artist Lee Miltier’s vividly striated “Energy Bottles” line the deep windowsills, glowing in the light.

Lee Hansley, who began his gallery in a downtown Raleigh space 15 years ago before moving to his present Glenwood Avenue location, says he’s impressed with what Cave is doing.

“I like the idea of having a gallery like that on the second floor,” he says. “Only people who want to buy art will go there. It’s a gallery of destination. … The more of us that are trying to sell quality art the better off we all are — especially downtown.”

New Galleries, New Shows (February 2008)

METRO MAGAZINE
Art
February 2008

NEW GALLERIES, NEW SHOWS
Artist-at-Large, Louis St. Lewis

Fools walk in where angels fear to tread.” I personally think this statement was created to describe people who are crazy enough to open art galleries. I’ve seen more than a few open and close in the past couple of decades, but lucky for us there seems to be a constant stream of brave souls willing to step up to the challenge of selling art to the art lovers in our midst. Not only is the venture extremely risky from a financial point of view, but the poor souls must deal with the whims of the buying public and the fragile egos of the artists they represent, as well. I don’t know how they do it, but God bless ’em! It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce the opening of Adam Cave Fine Art (www.adamcavefineart.com), located at 115 ½ E. Hargett St. in downtown Raleigh, just a hop from Moore Square. Many of you will know Adam as the gallery director of Gallery C for the past 10 years, but he obviously has decided that it was time to spread his wings and perhaps feather his own nest for a change. It doesn’t hurt that Adam is taking with him his father, artist Joseph Cave, one of Gallery C’s most popular and creative landscape painters, to become part of his artistic stable. This stable includes area favorites including photographer Stephen Aubuchon, as well as artists Wayne Taylor, Donald Furst, Jennifer O’Connell and others. The idea is to keep the number of artists to a minimum, allowing Cave to concentrate on the development and promotion of each artist’s career, as opposed to crowding the space with every artist in the phone book and just hoping that someone walks in. I wish there were more gallery directors with this approach. Unfortunately, many galleries are satisfied exhibiting the most inane art imaginable, and when it inevitably sells to tasteless rabble, the gallery director looks smug, and the artist is only too happy to crank out the same painting ad nauseum. That doesn’t make a gallery or an artist, ladies and gentlemen — that makes a shop and a product producer. With Adam’s family history and his years of experience working for one of the more successful galleries in our area, I have great hopes that his new foray into the world of artistic representation brings great rewards for us all. Do the right thing and go check out his new space. You may just find the treasure you have been looking for. …