Toss the beach book, shake the sand from your hair and cover those scary legs. Summer's gone, your hiatus from culture is over, and the beast welcomes you back.
The visual art world is here to gently remind us why we continue to ride this rough beast of a city slouching toward a distant world class benediction. We ride the beast because the ride is bracing, the view is improving and there's light at the end of the tunnel.
The weeks between Labor Day and New Year's Eve are salad days in the petite monde of the visual arts. Galleries and museums slough off summer with a vengeance and bring out the best of what they got. With the loss of three fine galleries this year, the remaining lot and a few newcomers have stepped up to fill the loss.
For those of you who missed the best one-man show of this year -- Phil Moody's stunning photo assemblages at the Light Factory -- you have a second chance to see these grand photographic elegies. Moody's pieces will show again in the Dalton Gallery at Rock Hill's Center for the Arts opening November 11 and running through December 26. Moody's merging of words, portraits and textile photograms chronicle the disappearance of close knit factory communities in South Carolina. It's back of your neck, hair-raising good.
Diversity training in Charlotte includes visits to galleries which display work that quicken every xenophobe's dark heart. In Charlotte, we've got the opportunity each month to see through the eyes of those other people, the un-American, that vast alien ocean orbiting around our center-of-the-universe country. Our bubble has developed leaks, the tide rages in.
Each year, Mexico celebrates El Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead. The souls of the dead return each year in November, to visit friends and families. Mortals celebrate the return of loved ones with food, drink, dance and, on occasion, reckless abandon. Pura Vida Worldly Art at 1521 Central Ave will celebrate the day of the dead beginning Saturday, October 15, with a show of art commemorating this important holiday. Latin rock band La Rúa will play that night. The dead, and the objects which celebrate them, have consented to stay through November 15.
Afro-Cuba Works on Paper 1968-2003 opens at the McColl Center for Visual Art on September 2 and runs through November 5. Yes, Momma, something worthy sprung from the revolution, and no, it's not Guantanamo Bay. CastroLand is viewed through the eyes of a subset of the liberated and occupied; Afro-Cuban voices address issues of social struggle, religion and cultural heritage with 40 years of prints and drawings. Running concurrently and opening the same night is the exhibition of the Center's Fall 2005 Artists-in-Residence program. These are the artists from near and far who have been invited here to do their thing, and here are those things. Come see what fruit has risen from seeds cast by Hugh McColl's unprecedented beneficence.
Joie Lassiter Gallery opens her ninth year in her fabulous new digs at 1440 South Tryon Street in SouthEnd on September 10 with Marek Ranis' Albedo I. Ranis is Charlotte's artist of politics. War, death, money, greed and now... global warming. Glacial degradation is always couched in scientific jargon so banal it could render ecofreaks on crack comatose. Ranis will bring a visual, lid-lifting ferocity to this issue with the lyrically theatrical hand he lends to all his work. This painting, video and photography exhibit examines the earth's diminishing reflectivity, a measure of our shrinking ice caps. Come bear witness to Earth's whimper amplified.
The show not to miss at the Mint this fall and early winter will be Renaissance to Rococo: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art. Old Masters from the 15th through the 18th centuries will be represented in 60 paintings of still lifes, portraiture and recreations of medieval legend, Greek mythology and tales from the Bible. The show will run from September 24 through January 15, 2006.
I will not miss The Land of Make Believe: Original Children's Book Illustrations, showing now through February 26, 2006, at the Mint. The Public Library of Charlotte, our one indisputable world class cultural institution, has been a long-time collector of illustrations for children's books. Included here are some of the best artists working for the pleasure of children in the last century. You won't recognize the artists' names, but you will recognize the paintings etched long ago on your little impressionable brain, as you listened to the tales at bedtime read by your world class parents.
Opening October 8 at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design uptown is Don Reitz: Clay, Fire, Salt and Wood. The recently closed Murano Glass show demonstrated the high range in the art of glass blowing, and Reitz's work will show the high expressive range of this ancient, humble medium. As he helped pull clay into the 21st century with his pioneering use of it, he created emotionally volatile work. Clay volatile? Check it out.
Thursday night wanderers, be advised. The MMD+C will be open until 8 on every third Thursday with programs, refreshments and free extended viewing hours. Local luminaries will speak around 6:30 on those evenings. Come sober.
Some outside agitators have been invited in town by The Light Factory, our own homegrown, long-lived center for photography and film. Sights of War: A Collection of Perspectives will open August 19 in The Light Factory's Knight Gallery in Spirit Square. Alongside home boy political shit kicker Marek Ranis, seven photojournalists from the VII Photo Agency, video artist Bill Viola and digital artists Joyce Dallal and David Brodeur examine recent conflicts in Rwanda, Croatia, Haiti, Jerusalem, India, Afghanistan and Iraq. This exhibit, according to Artistic Director Crista Cammaroto, "shows how photography and video allow the audience to make a deeper examination of their own true position in regards to war," and I figure she's good for her word. I suspect the show will also reveal nose-to-the-ground perspectives and feet-in-the-rubble images in stark contrast to the official jingoistic spin we've come to recite in our sleep.
Don't forget the first and third Friday night crawls, open house for all the galleries across town. The best walks are in NoDa and SouthEnd, but save some gas for uptown. Hodges Taylor Gallery still has the light on.