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July Issue 2010

Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, Offers New Exhibitions

The Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, is presenting a group of exhibits under the title, Being There, which will be on view through Aug. 28, 2010. The exhibitions include: New Works: Women in Water, featuring works by Carmella Jarvi, on view in the Stanback Gallery Hall; Legacy, featuring works by John Wesley Simms, Jr., on view in the Norvell Gallery; Awakened Wood, featuring works by Rick Sorensen, on view in the Osborne and Woodson Galleries; A Few People, Places, and Things I've Seen, featuring works by Ben Martin, on view in the Young People's Gallery; and Dare To Imagine Winner, featuring works by Michelle Casper, on view in the Stanback Gallery Hall.

In his famous book Being and Time, German philosopher Martin Heidegger consistently refers to human beings as "Dasein."  The rough translation of this word is "being there," and Heidegger used this terminology because he believed that to think of human beings simply as beings (an aggregate of matter and spirit) is to obscure one of the most important aspects of our existence: the fact that we exist in space and time.

The four artists in these summer exhibitions take a variety of approaches to the notion of the human moment, the experience of a place and a time. Working across media and subject matter, the artists are unified by the idea that single moments are definitive in human life and capturing these moments can be extremely rewarding for both artist and audience.

Carmella Jarvi's exquisite paintings and pastel drawings of women swimming have a private, intimate solitude that suggests deep reflection, and yet they are full of languid motion. The dynamic, ever-changing nature of water and the strange and sometimes disquieting sensation of submersion are palpably present in viewing her pictures. Audiences will identify with that silent moment of suspension and reflection.

Water has always been an integral part of Jarvi's artwork. It is ubiquitous, yet personal. However, the act of swimming with which everyone can connect is not painted in the traditional sense. Instead she paints a solitary woman moving through water, a private moment of introspection.

This new body of work on display in Stanback Gallery Hall, is more monochromatic and painterly. In these, Jarvi began by working from photos shot underneath the water, inside a pool. Her goal is to capture the depth and movement of watershe wants the viewer to feel the water.

Jarvi is a full-time artist living in Charlotte, NC. She graduated in 1992 from UNC-Charlotte with a BCA in Visual Arts and a BA in Philosophy. She is currently a summer Affiliate Artist at McColl Center of Visual Art.

John Wesley Simms, Jr., whose powerful portraits of African American men, women and children will be on display in the Norvell Gallery. These portraits give a potent sense not only of our historical moment but also of each individual's particular circumstance. For example, a commissioned work, Sgt. Futrel,l, features a young man who has recently been killed in combat in Iraq. In this moving portrait he is posed near a photograph of himself with his mother from years before, bringing into focus three important moments in this man's all-too-brief life.

In Simms' own words, "Visual Artists knowingly or unknowingly chronicle their influences. Where they've been, what they've seen, their joys and hurts exposed to the viewer for their enjoyment or criticism. This body of work represents my thinking today and yesterday; and my hopes for the future. My portraits and representations of history tell stories. Still life compositions and landscapes show what I find beautiful. The greater statement I choose to make is: My subjects, the viewers, and myself were here ­ We have a Legacy."

Simms was born in a small parsonage adjoining the church where his father served as pastor in Indiana. His artistic talents were evident at a very early age. However, his interest was almost extinguished by one practical minded yet racially insensitive teacher who strongly encouraged him to "take up a trade" rather than pursue his love of art. After returning from a three-year stint in the United States Army that included a tour of duty in Vietnam, his self-taught art skills attracted Indiana artist, Joseph Holiday, who mentored Simms. His work was first exhibited at the 1972 Indiana Black Expo.

While still pursuing a thirty-year career with General Motors, Simms graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Creative Studies, Detroit, MI. He retired from GM in 1999. Simms and his wife, Clintina, now reside in Cumberland Plateau, TN, where he paints full time.

Rick Sorensen, on display in the Osborne and Woodson Galleries, sees his sculptures as instants of awakening. He carves pieces of driftwood found near his home on High Rock Lake, thereby bringing new life to an object that has already had a long, mysterious history. There is an interesting parallel between the lives of these sculptures and the artist's life. Sorensen is a retired medical investigator with a long career in medicine, and he discovered his passion for art after retirement.  His sculptures celebrate this new moment of awakening for both himself and the wood that he is carving.
After studying the art of wood sculpting, Sorensen taught himself the not-so-conventional techniques he uses to carve hardwoods. He describes his work as a fusion of classical sculpture and the Carolina heritage arts of wood spirit carving.
As a former hospital investigator, published writer/poet, and professor, Sorensen learned that truth was immutable. To him, truth is beauty, and beauty is the pure essence of a thing or idea. His work strives to uncover and release that essence. Sorensen believes the art that emerges from within a piece of slimy, weathered wood is affirmation of the beauty within each of us.
Ben Martin is an artist for whom the phrase "being there" really means "Being There!"  Martin was Time Magazine's first staff photographer, and his thirty-three year career as a photojournalist is the stuff of legend. He has been present at moments that most of us have only heard about on the news, and his camera has been with him. His photographs have captured many of the stories with which we are so familiar: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Kennedy funerals, and presidential inaugurations. Martin's eye and his knack for being in the right place at the right time have made him a master of the defining moment.

Martin's exhibition of artists, in all forms, from performing and visual, to literary and culinary, is on display in the Young People's Gallery. Here, through the lens of his camera, he shares some of the most private and intimate moments in the lives of artists like Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Carl Van Vechten, Nicholas Monsarrat, Hugh Hefner, and Craig Claiborne.

Martin, retired to his childhood home in Salisbury, and continues his work as a freelance photojournalist, commercial, and advertising photographer. He lectures on photojournalism at colleges, universities, and seminars in the US and Great Britain.

In addition to the professional exhibitions, Waterworks will feature a selection of work in a solo exhibition from this year's Dare to Imagine Award winner, Michelle Casper. Casper's portfolio was one of six senior submissions by art specialists from the Rowan-Salisbury High Schools. Now in its seventh year, the Dare to Imagine Award is given in recognition of the importance of art in the life of our community and to a graduating senior whose work most exemplifies the creative potential of the human spirit, heart, and hand. This $1,000 award is made possible by a gift from Susan and Edward Norvell.

Casper is a student of Dr. Mark Riley, Rowan Salisbury Schools' (RSS) Fine Arts Academy Chair and Ms. Lundgren, RSS's Fine Arts Academy Instructor from Jesse Carson High School. She plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the fall and major in Costume Design.

The Waterworks Visual Arts Center is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Its mission is to provide diverse opportunities in the arts for all people through exhibitions, education, and outreach programs.  The Waterworks is funded by individual memberships, corporations and businesses, foundations, the City of Salisbury, and Rowan County. The Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, a federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities, supports the Waterworks Visual Arts Center. Waterworks receives support from the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 704/636-1882 or visit (www.waterworks.org).

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