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May 2011

UNC-Greensboro in Greensboro, NC, Features New Exhibits for the Summer

UNC-Greensboro in Greensboro, NC, will present several new exhibitions, on view at the Weatherspoon Art Museum including: Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972-2008, on view in The Bob & Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery, from May 28 through Aug 21, 2011; Persian and Indian Miniatures, on view in The Weatherspoon Guild Gallery, from May 21 through Aug 7, 2011; and Encore!: Japanese Actor Prints from the Permanent Collection, on view in The Gregory D. Ivy Gallery, from May 21 through Aug 7, 2011.

Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972-2008, is the first major survey exhibition of paintings by the British-born, Yale-educated painter Rackstraw Downes (b. 1939), who divides his time between New York and Texas and has been painting exterior and interior panoramic scenes of the American land- and urbanscape for over thirty-five years.

The exhibition consists of approximately thirty-two works, many of them multiple-part paintings, created between 1972 and 2008. Downes’s panoramic paintings strike a unique balance between realism and abstraction, timelessness and history. He paints exclusively from direct observation over a period of several weeks to several months, outdoors or indoors, but always onsite, using a portable easel.

Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings 1972-2008 was organized by the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York.

Appearing sometime between the 10th and 12th century, Indian miniature paintings hold a special place in the history of art. Similar to Western illuminated manuscripts, they were first etched on palm leaves and used as illustrations to manuscript texts. Eventually these small-scale, highly detailed paintings were produced as works of art in their own right to convey scenes of courtly life, episodes from religious texts, beautiful landscapes, and rajas from classical Indian music, to name but a few themes. Over the centuries, distinct schools, styles, and sub-styles emerged in different geographical locations in India. Kept as loose leaves or bound in albums, the paintings, however, were accessible only to the patrons who commissioned them or to a select, privileged few.

Part of the museum’s permanent collection and shown in conjunction with Encore!: Japanese Actor Prints, many of these miniature paintings were given to the Weatherspoon by Lenoir C. Wright; others were gifts of Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel Cone, sisters who shared a passion for collecting art during the first half of the twentieth century.

Funding for this exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

During the early 1700s in Japan, a new form of artistic expression known as ukiyo-e - or floating world pictures - developed. Ukiyo-e often depicted the escapist and ephemeral pleasures offered at the time by the entertainment districts of the cities of Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Osaka. Although very different in character, two popular forms of entertainment were Noh and Kabuki theater. While Noh plays demonstrated an economy of expression and limited repertoire, Kabuki theaters were lively places to see and be seen. Kabuki plays provided a day’s worth of entertainment, offering the latest fashion trends and newest music in addition to engaging stories performed by famous actors who held the almost iconic stature that actors today possess.

Working with woodblock cutters, printers, and publishers, artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries tapped into the enthusiasm for theater with a wide range of imagery and colorful designs. The diverse actor prints in this exhibition are drawn from the museum’s noted Lenoir C. Wright Collection. Len Wright, a professor emeritus of History and Political Science at UNCG and a self-taught connoisseur and expert of the ukiyo-e print tradition, began collecting in the 1950s and continued to acquire works until his death in 2003. The Lenoir C. Wright Collection of Japanese Prints is the only collection of its kind and depth in North Carolina, numbering in excess of four hundred and fifty works of art. It is celebrated for its range of subject matter, inclusion of major artists, and condition of the prints.

Funding for this exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Blue Bell Foundation and Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 336/334-5770 or visit (


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