August 4–September 3
by Jerry C. Waters
Storytellers, which opens on August 4, is the third and final rotation show for the Summer Series of exhibitions at Cumberland Gallery. This exhibition will feature new artworks by Meg Aubrey, Barry Buxkamper, Jeff Danley, Robert Durham, Ray Kleinlein, Jim Phalen, Marilyn Murphy, Ron Porter, and Caroline Waite. The purpose of the series, which began in June, is to present the broad roster of emerging and established artists affiliated with Cumberland Gallery. Through these displays the viewer is able to view contemporary artistic media, subject matter, and style. For example, the July exhibit focused on the tactile qualities of art and the ways in which artists manipulate materials within the realm of three-dimensional forms, sculpture, as well as through two-dimensional art objects, drawing and painting.
The Storytellers exhibition is a revelatory experience that exposes the diverse range of narratives occurring in a select group of works by Southeastern artists. The narratives associated with paintings by Aubrey, Durham, and Porter contain unusual messages and embrace stylistic qualities associated with the Surrealism cultural movement of the early twentieth century. Indeed, their artwork contains scenes crafted with photographic precision and includes unexpected juxtapositions of objects and images. For example, Porter’s Recalculating is a panoramic view of landscape, meticulously rendered with oil and acrylic on canvas, and incorporates a secondary nature scene within the center of the composition. The contrast between both images is suggestive of a reality beyond the physical world—i.e., a fantasy land. This dreamlike and mysterious experience continues in Durham’s Great Expectations in that the frozen posture of the human figure in the foreground is similar in manner to the wooden mannequin standing in the background. The static pose of the woman and the precise manner in which she is painted resemble the hard-surface quality of the mannequin, the chair, and the ceramic tea pot as well as the cup and saucer she is holding. Durham has captured an ethereal experience.
Soccer Mom’s World by Meg Aubrey is from the artist’s Suburbia series, which illustrates an eerie darkness encroaching on suburbia despite light-filled scenes. Aubrey, who is based in Atlanta, Georgia, says her landscapes contain “desperately controlled and perfectly presented elements of an environment created to hold back the engulfing emptiness of a life full of living up to expectations.” Her canvases are social commentary through which she “investigate[s] neighborhoods full of successful individuals whose expectations are not always found at the end of the cul de sac,” according to the artist. The serene space surrounding the seated figure in Soccer Mom’s World who is peering into a techno-device alludes to a feeling of uneasiness and suggests that which is timeless.
Caroline Waite’s Dreamer from her linear narratives series incorporates a range of vintage items resting on a fabricated steel shelf. From an early age the artist has constantly searched for “stuff” that she incorporates within artistic constructions. The purpose of these constructions, Waite says, is “to make order out of chaos and to also show things to their full potential and to highlight subtle connections and differences.” Through the process of highlighting found objects she elevates inherently humble, discarded, and rusted forms and, according to Waite, reveals “the element of mystery surrounding old objects.”
From August 4 through September 3, the Cumberland Gallery staff is pleased to offer a fresh look at some of the most revered storytellers connected with its exhibition program. On August 13 at 11:30 a.m. the public is invited to attend a panel discussion at Cumberland Gallery with Jeff Danley, Bob Durham, Marilyn Murphy, and Ron Porter. For more information, visit www.cumberlandgallery.com.