Feature Articles

January 2011

Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, Offers Exhibit Inspired by Abstract Paintings Exhibit

The theme of abstraction in art has united two Winston-Salem, NC, organizations, Reynolda House Museum of American Art and the Enrichment Center, and a dozen local artists in a unique artistic partnership to create an original exhibition. Homage to Abstraction: Artists of the Enrichment Center Respond to Modern Masters, is on view at the Womble Carlyle Gallery at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts through Jan. 28, 2012.

The two organizations invited local professional artists and artists with disabilities from the Enrichment Center to respond to the exhibition, Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on view at Reynolda House this fall. On multiple visits to the museum, the artists viewed the exhibition and then created their own works of art using visual art techniques derived from the geometric abstractions of Josef Albers, the bold abstract expressionist canvases of Robert Motherwell, and the deconstructed human figures in collages of Romare Bearden.

“By pairing these artists’ work with that of contemporary artists working in a variety of styles, Homage to Abstraction makes a case for the primacy of individual expression in art after modernism,” said Phil Archer, director of public programs at Reynolda House who helped coordinate the collaborative exhibition.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Adam Ploch, Josh Lawrence, Emily Caldwell, April Anders, Kenneth McMahan, Valarie Williams, Adam Leferve, Marjorie Waser and Chris Cuthrell from the Enrichment Center; and community artists Andrew Fansler, Jae Pitt, Shanthony Exum, Matt Groce, Laura Lashley and Jason Lancaster.

“Collaborations with community arts organizations such as Reynolda House allow the Enrichment Center to provide opportunities for its artists to learn about and work in media not otherwise available to them,” said Sue Kneppelt, director of the Gateway Gallery and director of marketing at the Enrichment Center.

Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum was on view through Dec. 31, 2011, and was North Carolina’s first exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in nearly ten years. It explored the lives of painters and sculptors who sought to understand the motivations that shape human life, and, in doing so, created a compelling new art and emerged as visual spokesmen in post-war America. Reynolda House was the final venue of only six museums across the country to host the exhibition and the only one in North Carolina.

Featuring 31 of the most celebrated artists who came to maturity in the 1950s, the exhibition examined the complex and varied nature of American abstract art through 43 key paintings and sculptures selected from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection.

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund, the C.F. Foundation in Atlanta, and members of the Smithsonian Council for American Art generously contributed to Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Reynolda House received support for this exhibition from Lead Sponsor Hillsdale Fund, Inc.; Contributing Sponsors Hawthorn PNC Family Wealth, Mia Celano and Skip Dunn, and Flow Companies, Inc.; and Exhibition Partners Harriet and Elms Allen, Cathleen and Ray McKinney, and Debbie and Mike Rubin. A portion of this exhibition was funded by the Charles H. Babcock, Jr. Community and Arts Initiative Endowment and the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

The Enrichment Center in Winston-Salem is a member of the state and national ARC organizations and provides services in the community to between 500 to 1000 individuals, as well as workshops for their families. The intent of the arts program of the Enrichment Center is to encourage adults with intellectual disabilities to become active and productive community citizens, by allowing to express themselves through the arts, develop their creative skills and to participate more fully in the cultural life of the community which in turn can recognize them as artists who have disabilities rather than disabled artists.

Reynolda House Museum of American Art is one of the nation’s premier American art museums, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Gilbert Stuart among its permanent collection. Affiliated with Wake Forest University, Reynolda House features traveling and original exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, film screenings and other events. The museum is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the historic 1917 estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Reynolda House and adjacent Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda Village feature a spectacular public garden, dining, shopping and walking trails.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Milton Rhodes Center at 336/725-8916 or visit (www.rhodesartscenter.org). For further information call the Reynolda House Museum at 336/758-5150 or visit (www.reynoldahouse.org).

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