Submitted by Melissa Howsam — Correspondent
If there's one thing January is not, it's colorful. De-decking with a side of holiday hangover is always a bit drab. Especially the week preceding 2012's premiere First Friday, when Jack Frost got a little frisky with the frigid and Mother Nature felt eerily monochromatic. And without all that Morning Times Market mayhem to look forward to (the FF street-side bazaar is suspended until March for, ya know, nippily weather), we had to hope there'd be some way to paint the town red. Clearly, the joke was on Jack as First Friday brought temps out of the arctic range, some off-season springy sunshine and added all kinds of pigment to that pallid winter palette alongside a host of hot openings.
Bumbling amongst a hive of happy hooch drinkers, artist Rob Logic added a heady hue to the night with his "Endless City" installation at local fav Busy Bee.
"[Friday] night was great for us," co-owner Chris Powers said in a post-show interview. "We aren't sure what it was I would like to think it was a trifecta of our artist Rob Logic, the full moon and the amazing weather that led to a record-setting January First Friday. The huge canvases Rob Logic used for his show really put a scale to our walls. The old brick and the bright colors are a unique contrast."
Having shown for several years in Raleigh, Las Vegas and Asheville, Logic has plans to branch out to New York and Key West this year. "This will be a lot of hard work, but well worth the time invested," he said. "I love the painting 'Big Cities,' and I know they will do just as well there as they have done here in Raleigh."
Logic added he was quite pleased with the show. "The night was packed as usual at Busy Bee with quite a roar from the hungry and thirsty FF crowd. I'm sure the art had something to do with all that energy as well. There were lots of folks commenting on my 'Electric City' series, making for a successful show all around."
If you missed them on First Friday, make sure you buzz over to the Bee in the coming weeks where Logic's works will be on display through Feb. 2. For more info visit galaxynine.us.
Down the block, even with the FF market closed, java-giant Morning Times was no worse the wear in perking up the night.
Rightly so. Who knew when Dave Matthews asked "Where Are We Going?" to a transient generation, that coming-of-age artist R.F. Batten would be here now to answer the call with works answering that very question in an exhibit entitled the same (not connected to DMB of course).
Intrigued by maps and following movement from point A to B, Batten's series includes a set of acrylics on paper and a collection of pen and ink on paper that tracks experiences and represents them via abstract ideas.
Navigating his own spot amongst the top talents of the night with "Where Are We Going," Batten presents a collection of new works that seek to answer that question via a modified approach. "In life, we travel, we move, all while observing or recording what is all around us," he said. "I am constantly exploring these ideas. In my current body of work, I have taken in the idea of doing more with less. In my past works, I would use anywhere from 40 to 50 layers. Presently, I am bringing a more minimal approach to my process."
Gallery Director Liz Niemeyer was more than pleased with the FF turnout. "The show drew a nice crowd throughout the course of the night and the work was well received," she said in an after-show statement. "Ryan had a limited amount of studio space to create this body of work and made the challenge into an opportunity to create some smaller scale pieces that fit nicely into the gallery space."
The works will be on display in the Morning Times gallery through Jan. 31.
Over in the Warehouse District where VAE has now settled into their still relatively new digs, a different kind of cultural perspective was under the lens, and the South was rising with a show juried by Xandra Edent, the curator of exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC-Greensboro.
Today, really, what's more Southern than an image of that old familiar bright yellow Waffle House sign taken from an adjacent pit stop ("Rest Stop, Warsaw, N.C.," by Shawn Rocco)? Arguably, that's what over 60 pieces of art by more than 52 artists representing and interpreting their image of the region seeks to answer.
"There seems to be a great crowd tonight, and I'm not sure if it is because of the unseasonably warm weather or great art, or both, but we really are pleased," exhibitions director Meredith Burgess said. "Seeing this many people come out for a First Friday reception really solidifies our decision to move to the Warehouse District. I hope that everyone comes out to check out Visual Art Exchange this month!"
The featured artist, David Matthew Parker, was on hand to help out with the show and agreed with Burgess about the atmosphere.
"It's always an honor to be a part of a VAE show, he said. And, as usual, the quality is excellent. I noticed tonight how big the pieces were, which makes me think contemporary means big."
Luckily you've still got time to stop in and decide for yourself. "Contemporary South" will run through Jan. 26.
Back on Fayetteville Street, our city's eponymous museum was keeping track and looking back with an exhibit of period artifacts and posters from World War I.
If you were ever 15 with a backlight and a penchant for the psychedelic, then we don't need to tell you how significant a poster can be. But now imagine you live in a virtually tech-free time. In a wartime era. You get it.
So does Raleigh City Museum with their stirring rendering of "Your Place is by His Side: World War I Posters in Raleigh," which features original posters and artifacts from the Great War (belonging to the museum and including a pair of army boots, a partial uniform, and a "Welcome Home" pennant for the 30th Division). There are also poster reproductions from the N.C. State Archives to examine how the war affected culture and specifically our capital city.
Let's just say there is def more to it than Uncle Sam pointing his "I Want You" finger. Posters represented a significant medium for mass communication during the time and served several purposes beyond military recruiting, like "convincing the public that engaging in a deadly conflict was necessary, inspiring patriotism, raising war funding and urging people to join service organizations" (from "Join the Fight," an exhibit from the show). The posters asked the same essential question of citizens: "How will you support the war effort?"
"In an era without television, poster art galvanized a nation today these images continue to inspire," said Jennifer Carpenter from the museum. "Bright, colorful and engaging, the exhibit provides a peek into the early 20th century and a war that is often overlooked."
Essentially, the exhibit is a must-see. Walking amongst real wartime mediums and calls of action is one of the most honest looks to an era you'll experience which no doubt made the exhibit a popular First Friday pit stop.
"[The] debut of our WWI Poster exhibit was a great success," Carpenter said. "We had over 200 people pass through the museum, and visitors really enjoyed the colorful poster art and learning about Raleigh's wartime contributions. Period music helped set the tone and added an auditory dimension to the exhibit. And visitors enjoyed drinks and light hors d'oeuvres while walking through the gallery."
The wartime posters will be on display until May 11. Next month, look forward to the unveiling of a redesigned Civil Rights exhibit that includes video and audio components.