The Block Gallery

Office of Raleigh Arts

Last updated Feb. 03, 2017 - 4:55 pm

Located on the first and second floors of the Raleigh Municipal Building, The Block Gallery offers five to six exhibitions each year featuring works by artists who live or work in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange or Wake County. Exhibitions are scheduled through a call for artists, juried by a selection panel of visual arts professionals, Raleigh Arts Commissioners and City staff.


Leatha Koefler, Mary Starke and Ely Urbanski
Curated by Stacy Bloom Rexrode, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections
February 1 – March 24, 2017
Artists Reception | First Friday, February 3, 5-7pm

Working with fabric and thread is a purposeful and sometimes self-imposed restriction employed by the artists in Darning Memory. Each artist followed her own unique path to these material choices, but they all employ them to navigate memory and entice viewers to weave their own personal attachments and associations to these recognizable objects and images. The artists use crafting as a strategy to examine memories and even invite a bit of nostalgia. What is this visceral connection we all seem to have to handcrafted items? Perhaps they are reminders of a more simple time and a reaction to the overwhelming influence of technology and the Information Age. At a time when we can document every moment and aspect of our lives using our ever-present smartphones, these works celebrate traditional acts of handiwork while recording and marking the passing of time.
Leatha Koefler has happily assumed the role of rescuing memories held hostage by outdated technologies and methods of documentation. After she inherited three decades of recorded family history following her father's passing and after she realized the floppy disks that held her daughter's wedding images had become obsolete, Koefler was inspired to reinvent these precious objects. Working with embroidery thread, slides and floppy disks, Koefler sews images of past generations along with the living in a manner that brings the family together.

For Mary Starke, each stitch through vintage linens represents the passage of time through the painstakingly slow process of embroidery. She uses heirloom fabrics as a link to imagined histories and a time when women expressed themselves by sewing samplers. As she adds her patterns to already present threads, thoughts inevitably arise about the previous owner and the possible parallels among different generations. The experience is intimate and meditative for both the artist and the viewer.

Resourcefulness is a common trait among artists and one that Ely Urbanski used to build this body of work. With little access to traditional artist materials and tools, she used what was available (clothing) and what she knew (printmaking). After her initial printing, the ghostly clothing portraits seemed to possess both visible and underlying histories. She began to gather garments from others and record their personal stories and attachments to these precious items. Many speak affectionately about outfits passed down through generations or special places they wore the pieces. We each select our wardrobes with purpose, revealing our personalities in the process. Urbanski captures these personal stories through her ethereal printings.


| | Watch: Artist Block video

Leatha Koefler earned her Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati and her Master of Education at North Carolina State University. Koefler taught art at Apex High School for 20 years, spending summers continuing her education at Savannah College of Art and Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her time at the Art Institute inspired her to see the objects in her life differently, and she now uses remnants of outdated technologies to build art pieces.

Koefler also teaches at the Sertoma Arts Center and Artspace in Raleigh. She serves on the Artsplosure Steering Committee and maintains a studio at Litmus Gallery and Studios on Cabarrus Street in the warehouse district of downtown Raleigh.

MARY STARKE | | Watch: Artist Block video

Mary Starke lives and works in Raleigh, where she was born in 1988. When she was 7 years old, her mother taught her a few simple embroidery stitches, but she did not pick up sewing again until a college surface design class sparked her interest. In 2012, Mary completed her BFA in Studio Art with distinction at Meredith College. She works predominantly in the medium of embroidery. Her embroidered drawings portray snapshots of people in different stages of life, and the work is often inspired by photographs of her family. She has found value in the embroidered work of Joetta Maue and Jenny Hart. Mary's work has been shown at CAM Raleigh, Litmus Gallery, VAE and World of Art Showcase. Her work has been published in several editions of The Colton Review, Meredith's literary and art journal.

ELY URBANSKI | | Watch: Artist Block video

Ely Urbanski was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. Her father, a photographer, and mother, a dressmaker, heavily influence her work. Ely studied art education at the University of São Paulo, where she learned from well-known printmaker Evandro Carlos Jardim.

Ely has been developing her art in Snow Camp, N.C., creating prints on paper and sometimes using sewing patterns as subjects. Other projects use clothes as matrices for her prints. Most of the garments are donations from friends and exhibition visitors, some of whom participated in video recordings in which they tell the stories behind the clothing. Interacting with the local community has been an important part of Ely's creative process. She has exhibited throughout North Carolina and in Brazil and Tokyo.

Artist Calls

The Block Gallery is scheduled through July 2017.

Eligibility requirements for the Block Gallery are as follows:

  • Applicants must be eighteen years of age or older and residing or working in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange or Wake County for at least one year by the application due date.
  • Artists applying to the Block Gallery must have participated in two juried or invitational shows in the past five years.
  • Commercial gallery representatives are not eligible to apply on behalf of artists or as curators, although artists represented by a commercial gallery are eligible to apply individually.
  • Curators may propose an exhibit for the Block Gallery or for the Block Gallery's second-floor cases. All artists included in the curator's proposal must meet the eligibility requirements for artists who apply individually.


The Block Gallery was designed to serve as one of the city's premier exhibition spaces. Managed by the Office of Raleigh Arts, the gallery has introduced close to 200 artists to area residents and visitors since its inception in 1984. Dedicated in 2006 to honor community leader Miriam Preston Block, its marble walls and impressive staircase provide an ideal setting for art.

In accordance with the mission "to connect local artists to community through ongoing exhibitions and public outreach," the Block Gallery fosters great artists and great art.

Exhibited Artists



Tedd Anderson

Adam Bellefeuil

Luke Miller Buchanan

Rachel Campbell

Caitlin Cary

David Eichenberger

Sherry di Filippo

Raymond Goodman

Harriet Hoover

Amy Hoppe

Ann Marie Kennedy

Sean Kernick

Cayce Lee

Peter Marin

Jennifer Partridge

Shelley Smith

Wendy Collin Sorin

Tracy Spencer Stonestreet

Derek Toomes


Denee’ Black

Jaclyn Bowie

Brandon Cordrey

Melinda Fine

Arron Foster

Brian Gonzales

Scott Hazard

Shannon Johnstone

Judy Jones

Anna Kenar

Jon Kolkin

Susan Martin

Jennifer Page

Brandon Sanderson

Rodica Simon

Felicia van Bork

Erik Waterkotte


Ryan Cummings

Gabrielle Duggan

Ross Ford

Titus Brooks Heagins

Becky Joye

Joyce Watkins King

Mary Kircher

Gracelee Lawrence

Cindy Morefield

Nora Phillips

Stacy Bloom Rexrode

Michael Schwalbe

Meg Stein

Sarah West


Marty Baird

Nancy Baker

Susan Brabeau

Luke Miller Buchanan

Jason Craighead

Jessica Dupuis

Kiki Farrish

Amy Friend

Richard Garrison

Heather Gordon

Julie Anne Greenberg

Greg Kemp

Ann Marie Kennedy

Gretchen Morrissey

Kenneth Eugene Peters

Anna Podris

Holden Richards

Shaun Richards

Kristianne Ripple

Ann Roth

Ginny Runge

Carol Joy Shannon

Mary Storms

Anthony Ulinski

Sally VanGorder

Jimmy Williams


Susan Brabeau

Teddy Devereux

Gerri Fernandez

Ron Flory

Adam Hajnos

Lucartha Kohler

Janine LeBlanc

Lydia Anne McCarthy

Chance Murray

Keith Norval

Christina Preher

Ellie Reinhold

Ian Sands

Julian Thomas

Nathan Wellman

Mia Yoon


Daniel Allegrucci

Nancy Baker

Wolf Bolz

Marina Bosetti

Jenny Eggleston

Kiki Farrish

Heather Gordon

Greg Kemp

Ann Marie Kennedy

Soni Martin

Susan Martin

Steve McClure

Gretchen Morrissey

Teresa Pigeon

Ann Roth

Brandon Sanderson

Aditya Shringarpure

Mike Sonnichen

Christopher Williams

Jimmy Williams


Jason Arthurs

Kathy Brancato

Gabriella Corter

Gene Furr

Brian Gonzales

Mary Shannon Johnstone

Judy Jones

Mary Kay Kennedy

Eduardo Lapetina

Georges Le Chevallier

Maureen McGregor

Tricia McKellar

Julie Niskanen

Alison Overton

Kenneth Eugene Peters

Anna Podris

Kristianne Ripple

Mikel Robinson

Garrett Scales

Kristan Five Skinner

Susan Soper

Bill Wallace



Adam Graetz

Michael Iauch

Drew Robertson


Kia Mercedes Carscallen

David Colagiovanni and Melissa Haviland

Travis Donovan

Marc Russo

Seoun Som

Jeff Whetstone


Lynden Harris

Jessye McDowell

Ali Colleen Neff

Wenhua Shi

Francesca Talenti

Nicole Welch


A/V Geeks

Lincoln Hancock

Miles Holst

Tim Kiernan

Irene Moon

Location and Hours

222 West Hargett Street
M-F, 8:30am - 5:15pm (open until 7pm on opening reception nights)

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