If I were reading another person's blog and they insisted on posting articles and reviews written about themselves or their work, I'd probably think that person had an overinflated opinion of himself. With that in mind, I cringe each time I need to copy an article or review and post it here. The thing is, this non-blog here is for me, not for you. Don't get me wrong, you're welcome here and I hope you enjoy yourself, but I'm not here to amuse you like a clown (as Pesci would say). This weird internet sketchbook has always been a place for me to easily access images and thoughts as I have them and a place where I can copy and paste interesting things that I'd like to think about and perhaps incorporate into my drawings and sculptures later on. But since I'm a one man operation there are times when I have to act as a manager too and preserve internet snippets because, let's face it, you're not going to do it for me, are you?
Right. So please feel free to skip the rest of this entry if you like. I would. Just know that my opinion of myself and of my work is unflatteringly realistic.
Worth the trip to Salisbury: Waterworks always does a fine job, and two collections especially stand out this time - one by ceramist Sharif Bey
By Tom Patterson Local Columnist
Published: July 26, 2009 in The Winston-Salem Journal and JournalNow.com
SALISBURY -- Thanks to its consistently varied, generally high-quality exhibitions program, the Waterworks Visual Arts Center continues to distinguish itself among nonprofit visual-art venues in North Carolina's smaller cities and towns.
The center's current round of exhibitions, assigned the broadly ambiguous collective title "Color," spans a typically broad thematic and stylistic spectrum. These shows are on view through Aug. 22, and they're worth a visit to Salisbury, thanks especially to two of them -- a duo exhibition by Charlotte artist Barbara Schreiber and Doug McAbee, a sculptor from Spartanburg, S.C.; and a solo show by Winston-Salem ceramist Sharif Bey.
Schreiber's and McAbee's exhibit is tagged with the seemingly self-deprecatory title "Shared Delusions." In the case of Schreiber's work, that title alludes primarily to societal delusions about childhood innocence and the influence of mass media. She is represented here by nine different series of narrative-based acrylic drawings (occasionally with silkscreen-printed components) in a cleanly linear style highlighted by bold colors.
In both style and content these works are reminiscent of children's-book illustrations, and the figures in most of them are solitary children or cutely stylized cartoon animals -- kittens, bunny rabbits, teddy bears or birds. Despite visual cues that emphasize protected innocence and insulation from painful realities, a close look at these images reveals their concern with the toughest problems of the adult world -- war, poverty, unemployment, extremist violence and everyday stress. This clash of realities -- childhood naivete vs. grown-up horrors -- provides the thematic foundation for most of Schreiber's work.
In her "Babydreams" series, a sleeping infant dreams about a terrorist bomb, a mob of torch-wielding teddy bears, a violent car accident and a kitten drowning in quicksand. Each of the girls in her "In a Dark Room" and "What We Learned Today" series are stretched out on the floor of a domestic living room containing a television, generic furniture and a few other objects. The key details in these drawings are the tiny images on the TV sets (a mushroom cloud, the chalk outline of a sidewalk shooting victim's body) and the objects the children are playing with or holding (a bomb, a martini glass, pills).
A highlight of Schreiber's show that occupies its own distinctive thematic niche is a sequential series of eight drawings about commercial airline disasters and flight phobias, titled "Final Boarding/The View from 1-A." For each drawing she has adopted the position of a commercial airline passenger peering out the window alongside a plane's foremost window seat. In the first five drawings the airplane window frames images of passengers in an entrance-ramp corridor as they prepare to board. But the last three views indicate that something has gone badly wrong, as they show the corridor respectively swarming with headless insects, filled with several feet of water containing a shark and other carnivorous fish, and traversed by a scythe-toting grim reaper.
Sharing a small gallery with Schreiber's work are eight of McAbee's painted steel sculptures, whose bright palette recalls plastic children's toys visually echoes some of the bolder colors in Schreiber's drawings. Although they're predominantly abstract, these slick-surfaced sculptures incorporate clear allusions to the human figure in the form of components resembling spindly arms and legs, eyeless heads and, in one case, a giant-size pair of blue, horn-rimmed glasses. These figural components are fused in some pieces with references to architectural forms or industrially manufactured objects. Collectively and individually they convey an impression of cartoonish whimsy, making them likely to be a hit with children.
Occupying an adjacent gallery at the Waterworks are 23 "New Works" by Bey, a ceramic sculptor and assistant professor of art education at Winston-Salem State University. About half of the show consists of functional vessels characterized by striking geometric patterns and designs that reference African art and textile design. The other half is made up of works that extend Bey's continuing investigation of ceramic beads as a sculptural form and conceptual vehicle. As in other such pieces he has shown in the past two or three years, the hand-crafted clay beads are significantly oversized, and the wearable necklaces they form double as commentaries on social issues involving black identity.
Several of Bey's clay-beaded necklaces play on the contrast between black-power-era fashions and current hip-hop styles in order to critically engage the conflicting values underlying that contrast. These pieces reference both the traditional African beads often worn by Afro-coiffed black men and women 40 years ago and the gaudy, lavishly priced "bling" jewelry favored by many contemporary hip-hop artists and their fans. The big clocks that served as popular hip-hop fashion accessories a few years ago -- typically worn like amulets on pricey gold or silver neck chains -- serve as models for large ceramic discs on the beaded necklace pieces in Bey's "Flav Clock Series," as well as his smaller necklace titled Mostly White Hero Clock With Minority Modern Master Supplements. The face of its central clock is emblazoned with a photo-transfer close-up of Picasso's face, while its smaller beads bear photo-transfer portraits of lesser-acclaimed black or Hispanic artists.
Running concurrently at the Waterworks are a duo exhibition by painters Whitney Peckman and Marge Loudon Moody; a small selection of outdoor metal pieces by Winston-Salem sculptor Don Green; and a small selection of lively, promisingly imaginative paintings and drawings by Hannah Thompson, a Rowan County high-school student who recently received a $1,000 "Dare to Imagine" award from the Waterworks.
■ Works by Barbara Schreiber, Doug McAbee, Sharif Bey, Whitney Peckman, Marge Loudon Moody, Don Green and Hannah Thompson are on view through Aug. 22 at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center, 123 E. Liberty St., Salisbury. For more information, call 704-636-1882.