Block Gallery - Celebrating 30 Years
Office of Raleigh Arts
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.
UNRAVELED | July 17-September 5
I am interested in textile because it is
always in motion. Anytime you touch something, there is bound to be a change.
The idea of a sheet that you can shape and reshape…all that fluidity is behind
~ El Anatsui
Throughout human history, fiber arts have provided a platform for creative expression within the boundaries of function. Since the mid-20th century, fiber artists have pushed their medium beyond the confines of its utilitarian roots to create a viable and exciting fine art form. The artists of Unraveled combine traditional textile techniques and materials with innovative concepts to produce varied and exciting bodies of work.
Inspired by the natural world, Mary Kircher’s works are evocative of environments ranging from coastal marshlands to phenomena such as the aurora borealis. In addition to her passion for the environment, Kircher has a deep love of the traditional weaving process. She begins her elaborate ikat weavings by hand dying wool to create a color palette; she then creates her organic designs on a loom. Kircher breaks with tradition by exposing rippling areas of the weft, imbuing her tapestries with added textural interest and symbolically representing the existence of urban space within the natural wilderness.
Nora Phillips uses thread to create a sense of movement and dimension in her abstract paintings. Paint is applied to the canvas, which is then sewn in curvilinear patterns that enhance the undulating shapes of her painted compositions. In addition to the sewn elements, Phillips emphasizes the textile nature of the canvas by pushing areas of the flat surface outwards to create actual depth through the flexibility of the fabric. Loose threads are draped over these bulging forms, further heightening the fluidity of her designs and materials.
Becky Joye’s Amusement series presents viewers with the whimsical reimagining of urban architectural structures. Through the use of saturated color and carnival-inspired mechanics, Joye transforms neglected structures into a vibrant fun park. Each piece, drawn and painted on paper, incorporates sewn elements that reveal the constructed nature of her imaginative creations and function as a delicate counterpoint to the strong geometric shapes of her structures. In its bold use of shape and color, the series packs a powerful visual punch that captures the playful energy of amusement rides held together by the fragile thread of youthful nostalgia.
Case Study installation artist Gracelee Lawrence’s feminist critique of art making explores semantics, statistics and symbolic materials. Standing and suspended steel sculptures are embellished with nylon threads, creating a stark contrast of texture and shape. The varying heights of the steel components represent data reflecting the prevalence of the word “sculptress” in printed publications from1850-2000. The length of the threads correlates directly with these heights, working to obscure or reveal the underlying sculptures.
Images above (l to r): Nora Phillips, Naranja y Gris, 2013; Gracelee Lawrence, Component Heights, 2013; Mary Kircher, Immersion, 2013; Becky Joye, Pendulum, 2012
CAROLINA FOLKWAYS | September 18-November 14
Special Opening Reception | Monday, September 29, 5-7pm
Photography by Titus Brooks
Heagins and Michael Schwalbe
Case Study Installation by Gabrielle Duggan
let all those who love us, love the land that we live in,
As happy a region as on this side of heaven,
Where plenty and peace, love and joy smile before us,
Raise aloud, raise together the heart thrilling chorus.
Hurrah! Hurrah! The Old North State.
~ William Gaston, “The Old North State”
The diversity of North Carolina’s many folk traditions is clearly evident in the sights and sounds of the Old North State. Carolina Folkways brings together two documentary photographers who turn their lenses on the people and traditions that continue to enrich the colorful fabric of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Capturing the labor, passion and pride that imbue the work of contemporary North Carolina craftspeople and musicians, these images record the ways in which folk practices, deeply rooted in tradition, have adapted to modern life.
Titus Brooks Heagins has photographed all over the world, drawing attention to people often thought of as “other.” For Heagins, photography is a powerful medium for social and political awareness. The photographs on view at the Block Gallery represent his work for the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina project sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council. This series celebrates the places and musicians that have defined communities in Eastern North Carolina for generations. The ten photographs on view were framed through the generous support of the North Carolina Folklife Institute.
Michael Schwalbe, professor of sociology at NC State University, created his series A View to the Making: Portraits of North Carolina Craft Artists at Work to document the skill and creativity that North Carolina artisans use to transform raw materials into objects of beauty. Accompanying each photograph is an excerpt from an interview that Schwalbe conducted with the artist. Through careful recording of words and images, Schwalbe presents the viewer with a genuine portrait of each craftsperson.
Case Study installation artist Gabrielle Duggan’s work creates immaterial tensions by emphasizing the ephemeral qualities of her media – thread, cloth and other organic materials. This tension is heightened through an underlying conceptual framework that explores the clashing dichotomies present in gender, labor, class and art. Duggan’s use of fiber and thread offers a symbolically harmonizing force working to create a tenuous balance that is constantly at risk of unraveling.
Image (l to r): Michael Schwalbe, Bill Wallace; Gabrielle Duggan, Wept Tree (detail); Titus Brooks Heagins, Untitled
2014 Exhibitions - Celebrating 30 Years
Celebrating Block Gallery’s 30th anniversary, our 2014 exhibition series explores Triangle area artists working in diverse mediums and our new Case Study series highlights installation art in our 2nd-floor cases. Opening receptions feature area performance artists.
Surface Matters | February 6 - March 21
Opening Reception Thursday, February 6, 5-7pm
Pushing the boundaries of tradition through symbolic explorations of texture and surface.
Artwork by Cindy Morefield, Stacy Bloom Rexrode and Joyce Watkins King
Constructs | April 3 – June
Opening Reception Thursday, April 3, 5-7pm
Exploring the complexities of memory, dreams and human experience through mixed media.
Artwork by Sarah West and Ryan Cummings
Unraveled | July 17 – September 5
Opening Reception Thursday, July 17, 5-7pm
Reimagining traditional techniques and materials in whimsical textile art.
Artwork by Becky Joye, Mary Kircher and Nora Phillips
Carolina Folkways | September 18 – November 14
Opening Reception Monday, September 29, 5-7pm
Celebrating North Carolina’s visual folk traditions.
Opening coincides with the launch of IBMA’s 2014 World of Bluegrass Week
National Arts Program | December 4,
2014 – January 15, 2015
Opening Reception Thursday, December 4, 5-7pm
Artwork by City of Raleigh and Wake County employees and their families.
Co-sponsored by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County and the Raleigh Arts Commission
The Block Gallery is scheduled through 2015. The next Call for Artists will be conducted in the summer of 2015 to schedule the following year.
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.
BLOCK GALLERY EXHIBITED ARTISTS
Mary Kay Kennedy
Georges Le Chevallier
BLOCK2 EXHIBITED ARTISTS
Kia Mercedes Carscallen
David Colagiovanni and Melissa Haviland
Location and Hours
222 West Hargett Street
M-F, 8:30am - 5:15pm (open until 7pm on opening reception nights)