It was hard to imagine how many major art events were scheduled for such a historic day in America’s recent history, but you can’t control the calendar and I chose to visit Salisbury, NC – in the daylight for once. Salisbury is the latest area to come on board to the Carolina Arts family, so I wanted to go and have a first hand experience of the visual art community there.
And, I can tell you right off – Salisbury is a very nice small city with a very big footprint when it comes to the visual arts. I would encourage those interested in the visual arts to go there for one of the 2nd Saturday events, but I think a trip there on any day would be a good adventure. I saw a lot of interesting places and shops I would like to visit.
Road To Salisbury
I decided to travel to Salisbury by interstate highways and then return by way of Hwy. 52. It took me just under an hour to get to I-26 from my front door, the cost you pay living out in the country, but once I reached the highway it way just short of a total of 4 hours to Salisbury. I left at 9am and reached Salisbury just before 1pm, traveling on I-26 to Columbia, SC, and then picking up I-77 to Charlotte, NC, where I got on I-85 heading toward Salisbury. I might have made it sooner if not for all the people traveling the interstate highways for college football games. They were everywhere.
The day was overcast and a light rain started by the time I reached I-85, but it was off and on and the lighting would be good for photographs. My mission was two fold – visit the art crawl and photograph some of the 2010 Salisbury Sculpture Show.
Rowan Arts Council
I had decided my first stop would be the Rowan Arts Council – a good bet for general information about the art community. As I drove up to the area, parked and got out of the car, I could hear the event had already started. The Salisbury Swing Band was in full swing welcoming visitors to the art crawl. At the Arts Council I found a map of Salisbury, a larger map of the Art Crawl than was printed in our paper (which I always carry with me) and a map of the Sculpture Show, among other items.
The Rowan Arts Council, Rail Walk Studios & Gallery, and Looking Glass Artist Collective share the same building located on N. Lee Street, between E. Liberty Street and E. Kerr Street. While listening to the swing band I strolled from one artist’s studio to the next at Rail Walk Studios and Gallery.
Some artists like working alone, but I have to think that there is some advantage to working in a complex where artists can network and bounce ideas off each other. Rail Walk Studios looked like it would be a nice place to work.
Between Rail Walk Studios and the Looking Glass Artist Collective, anyone should be able to find any kind of artwork they were interested in – in any medium. The Collective includes a display gallery, classrooms, and a black box theatre area that can also be used as an exhibit space.
These art venues are located in old warehouse spaces, so one of the advantages is that they have large loading doors that open on the street which come in handy when events like the Art Crawl take place. And, I learned later in the day that Salisbury also has a very popular first Friday event – where I’m sure these large doors are put to use.
Waterworks Visual Arts Center
My next stop was the Waterworks Visual Arts Center on E. Liberty Street, not far from the Rowan Arts Council – well within walking distance if you wanted to stay on foot, but because of the light rain I was traveling by car. It should be noted that throughout the day I never had any problems finding a parking space, but it should also be noted that Saturday it was raining and it was the first college football weekend in the Carolinas. And, we all know how much folks like their college football in the Carolinas.
Back when we first started doing Carolina Arts in 1997, I was traveling to deliver papers to Salisbury and one of my stops was the old location for the Waterworks Visual Arts Center which was housed on the old Salisbury waterworks building. This was my first visit to the new facility.
The Waterworks offers exhibitions under the heading of a theme. The current theme was History Makes Art, offering four exhibits which highlight and honor the rich historical heritage of Rowan County, demonstrating the community’s long-standing reverence for art and its continuing wealth of talent and creativity. I was seeing that for myself on this trip.
The four exhibits included: Collaboration with Historic Salisbury Foundation, featuring artwork and artifacts from the foundation’s collection; Reminders of History, featuring paintings by Marina Konovalova-Bare; Site Seeing, featuring ceramic sculptures by Lin Barnhardt; and A Vintage View of Today’s South, featuring photographs by R. Wayne Wrights. All four exhibit will remain on view through Nov. 20, 2010.
For me, these exhibits helped fill in some blanks as to what Salisbury and the area were all about and created more questions, which is good – it will bring me back again. Of special interest to me was actually getting to see some of Lin Barnhardt’s ceramic sculpture up close. Over the last decade, Barnhardt has always let Carolina Arts know where he is having exhibitions and he’s had them all over the Carolinas, but this was the first time I was actually seeing them beyond postcards and electronic images in e-mails. They were better than I imagined.
They wouldn’t let me take photos other than a general wide view of the exhibit space so I e-mailed Barnhardt to see if I could get some close up images and I did.
Rainbow Row and a detail
Salisbury Train Depot and detail
The real Salisbury Train Depot
It was interesting seeing sculptures of buildings in Charleston, SC, that I knew well, Rainbow Row and Catfish Row and the Salisbury Train Depot, which I saw up close when I left the Waterworks. It’s amazing seeing these structures in 3-D form. Some offered a better view of the buildings than you would get if you were standing in front of the actual buildings. You’re really getting an enhanced bird’s eye view. You can learn more about Barnhardt at his website (http://www.linbarnhardt.com/index.html).
2010 Salisbury Sculpture Show & Discovered Treasures
From the minute I left the Waterworks Center I was on the hunt for photos of the 2010 Salisbury Sculpture Show. I found one right outside the Waterworks and one around the corner by Gretchen Lothrop, an old acquaintance who lives in Pittsboro, NC. Lothrop’s sculptures can be found all over the Carolinas. I can usually identify a work as being one of her’s – about 95% of the time. Wayne Trapp’s sculptures, also in this show, is one of the only sculptors that can throw me off picking a Lothrop on sight.
A Subtle Miracle by Gretchen Lothrop of Pittsboro, NC
Steel Inverted Arch by Kenneth Thompson of Blissfield, MI
We Are the Problem, We Are the Solution by Jeannette Brossart of Durham, NC
Cattail Bridge by Jim Gallucci of Greensboro, NC
My tour of the Sculpture Show took me around different parts of downtown Salisbury. Near a piece by Jim Gallucci of Greensboro, NC, I discovered a hidden gem. On a lot across from Gallucci’s piece on S. Lee Street, between E. Fisher Street and E. Bank Street, I found what I would describe as an outdoor art garden. It may have been part of a previous sculpture show or some other art event, but it was an unexpected delight – falling right in with the idea that Salisbury is a city with art in its heart.
Over on W. Fisher Street tracking down a few more sculptures, I ran into Salisbury’s Historical Mural, a 6,000 sq. ft. work created by Salisbury native Cynvia Arthur Rankin which depicts the town at the turn of the century. She created the mural over a four year period from 1978-1981. That’s quite a canvas to work with. Rankin and fellow artist Diane Monday are in the process of “touching up” the mural, a process necessary every 3-5 years.
You can check out the entire 2010 Salisbury Sculpture Show at this website (www.salisburysculpture.com).
One place I really wanted to get inside of was the gallery Pottery 101, located at 101 South Main Street. The gallery represents more than 25 North Carolina artists, including the owner/artist Cheryl Goins.
During the last 3-4 months that I’ve been delivering papers to Salisbury I’ve been leaving nose prints on this gallery’s windows trying to see all the wonderful pottery inside. I was itching to get inside and now I was. This newly renovated space was a beautiful house for so much beautiful pottery. It was a feast for the eyes. The only complaint I had was that the potters were not identified and there were no prices posted.
I’m not a shy guy when it comes to art and I asked what I wanted to know, but I know many folks won’t. I understand why galleries practice this “ask for info” policy, but even window shoppers like to know the who and how much of things. This may not be a problem when the gallery is not full of inquiring minds, like the 20 minutes I spent there, but I learned that on the recent first Friday event, people were overflowing outside the gallery. It’s a little hard to get information under those circumstances.
As it turns out, I was pleased to know I could identify a few of the artists’ styles including works by Joy Tanner and Ron Philbeck and learned of new potters, before now unknown to me, such as Amy Sanders and Verna Witt. Witt made interesting vases which had vertical zippers and buttons up the sides, a carry over from the artist’s work with fabric materials – I learned by asking.
The gallery is currently offering the exhibit, A Twist on Tradition, featuring works by Bob Hasselle and Dale Duncan, on view through Oct. 22, 2010.
Robert Crum Fine Art & Off Main Gallery
My last stop of this day was to Robert Crum Fine Art and Off Main Gallery on E. Council Street.
Robert Crum offers paintings (portraits, landscapes, figure studies, still life, and architectural), drawings, and mosaics. There was a very interesting mosaic work based on the Wizard of Oz – several houses piled on top of a witch with ruby slippers sticking out at the bottom. Crum’s studio is open by appointment or chance, so the 1st Friday and 2nd Saturday events are a good time to catch him in.
Right next door at Off Main Gallery is an eclectic collection of paintings, antiques, books, and what not – every inch of space is filled, piled or covered with something. It couldn’t be in more contrast to Robert Crum Fine Art where everything is in its proper place.
The owner and resident artist of Off Main Gallery, Clyde (no last name) is also a contrast to Crum. Clyde has put up a display of mens underwear outside his gallery in the alley between the two buildings drawing attention from curious visitors. Clyde’s a kind of anything goes guy. He did have one interesting painting – a dark night scene of an old house with a lighted window on the second story. It made you wonder what was going on inside, but most of the rest of the paintings all looked the same.
Clyde says decorators love his place and I’m sure they do – you probably could find just about anything in there. I myself prefer the work being offered next door by Robert Crum – I think he takes things a little more seriously. I don’t subscribe to the adage that everyone’s an artist and anything can be art, but that’s a choice we all need to make for ourselves.
Road Back Home
As I stated earlier, I was going to take Hwy. 52 back home, which I knew would be slower taking me through many small towns. First it was Granite Quarry, Crescent, Rockwell and Gold Hill, a place where they discovered gold in North Carolina. When I got to Misenheimer and passed Pfeiffer University a bell went off in my head. There was an exhibit of children’s work on view at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, organized by a professor from Pfeiffer University.
Next, I passed through Richfield and New London before I got to Albemarle, a city close to the size of Salisbury. There was an art center there that I just learned about, but I hadn’t prepared before hand, meaning I didn’t have an address or a Google map, and I was too tired to go exploring.
From there it was Porter, Norwood, Cedar Hill, Ansonville, Wadesboro, Morven, McFairlan and then Cheraw, SC. Once I’m in Cheraw I’m back on one of my regular delivery routes – on my way back home. I know I said I was going back by Hwy. 52, but when I got to Florence, SC, I jumped on I-95 (like a horse running for the barn) and I cut a good half hour off my return trip which lasted a little more than 4 and a half hours, not bad considering all those small towns.
That’s not bad for a day trip, but an overnight stay would have offered a chance to see so much more, but then that might not leave much reason to return, and I’m definitely interested in returning to Salisbury. It’s my kind of town.
Why don’t you go see what you find there?
And, finally I have to again apologize for talking to people when I should be taking more photos, but I’m not trying to take your adventure away from you.