The Carrack’s
Winter Commmunity Show

The Carrack Community Show is something that I look forward to with relish and gusto. Partly because it is always packed chock full of art, almost floor to ceiling, but even more so because it is keenly representative. It showcases so much of the range and depth of our community of local artists, and therefore, our community of Durham humans.

The Carrack’s Winter Commmunity Show

by: Aaron Mandel

The Carrack is one big room on East Main Street, down the block from Goldenbelt and the new Durham Police Station. I arrived just past noon on Sunday. The church next door was rollicking and swaying with joyous Gospel song that could be heard on the street.

The large room that is The Carrack in my mind can be divided into four quadrants.

Before I could even make my way into the first corner, on the southwest wall or immediately to your left as you come through the door, I was confronted by a hanging mobile. It swayed with the draft of air that I brought in with me.

“We are all explorers trying to find ourselves.”

“We are all explorers trying to find ourselves.”

The mobile was by five and six year-olds at Carolina Friends School of Durham. It celebrates the theme “We are all explorers trying to find ourselves.” What a perfect entre point to the whole Carrack Community Show. The curator must have thought this as well.

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The first corner held such an array of works that I was almost lost for a second.
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My eye paused for a second.

In a burst of irony, the first work that made me pause, was called “Stop” by Christopher Perez.

“top by Christopher Perez.

“Stop by Christopher Perez

Of course, I couldn’t help but be arrested for a moment by Cassandra Leigh’s “I am both empty and full…” which is constructed from cement, tile, and found objects.

I am both empty and full… by Cassandra Leigh

I am both empty and full… by Cassandra Leigh

I think my favorite piece in the first quadrant was Adriane R. Osborne’s “Frost Fractal”.

Frost Fractal by Adriane R. Osborne

Frost Fractal by Adriane R. Osborne

I cannot live outside of our culture. So of course, price affects perception. I find myself more critical, demanding more of the higher priced works of art. (I wish I could suspend these internal logics as the proceeds of the show go to directly to the artists via the zero commission model that the Carrack so admirably sustains.) *Earlier additions of this article incorrectly stated that the proceeds of this show support the Carrack.

I don’t know what to make of work that is “Not for Sale” or “NFS” in the parlance.

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As I moved to quadrant two, the western wall, I saw a few more red dots than had appeared in the first corner. Red dots indicate a work has been sold. I could not believe this amazing mixed media shadowbox from Heather Sivaraman was only $30.

Mixed media shadowbox by Heather Sivaraman

Mixed media shadowbox by Heather Sivaraman

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Then again, sometimes the artists in the Community Show price works well below their normal price point to insure they will sell. *Earlier additions of this article incorrectly stated that the proceeds of this show support the Carrack.

Surely that was the case with Madi Strickland’s “Muerte de Vanidad”.

Muerte de Vanidad by Madi Strickland (Death of Vanity)

Muerte de Vanidad by Madi Strickland (Death of Vanity)

But what about NFS?

I ran across work by old friend, the warrior poet, Jeremy Berggren. NFS. Now it made sense, the message. It was the message. Putting art into the public space puts the message into the public space. Jeremy who served in America’s most recent wars suffers from and counsels others with PTSD.

 

by Jeremy Berggren

by Jeremy Berggren

 

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close up

Still, it made me a bit jealous that this amazing photo shot at the top of the stairs shared by Cosmic Cantina and 9th Street Dance was NFS.

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This Dare Kumolu Johnson was also not for sale.

by Dare Kumolu Johnson

Untitled by Dare Kumolu Johnson

The diversity of the show’s artists’ backgrounds was everywhere.

There were not only two Perez’s, a Velazquez, a Larios Dominguez, and an Ortiz-Rangel, but also a work who’s proceeds were being donated to Puerto Rico. Fantastic stuff in a city where representation of our burgeoning Hispanic Community has been front and center lately.

INNER STYLE by Brayam Ortiz-Rangel

INNER STYLE by Brayam Ortiz-Rangel

 

Puerto Rico Se Levanta by Matalia Teresa

Puerto Rico Se Levanta by Matalia Teresa

Further down the wall I was pleased to see my dear old friend, Caroline Crawford’s Blue Dragon had sold.

Blue Dragon by Caroline Crawford

Blue Dragon by Caroline Crawford

She is on a very short list with Chance Murray of the most gifted and genuine outsider artists I have known personally.

Shortly thereafter I spotted work by another familiar name, Ann Tilley. Her message laden work, “Backyard Landscape” is constructed from Wool hand-dyed yarn, stranded machine knit.

Backyard Landscape by Ann Tilley

Backyard Landscape by Ann Tilley

These words on the tag sparked a search to try to encapsulate just how wide the array of mediums were. I cannot list them all but a small sampling includes linocut, ink, collage acrylic on watercolor paper, ceramic, digital photo, oil on panel, oil on wood, infrared color photo on canvas, charcoal on paper, and digital painting.

 

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The digital painting is right above Tilley’s knit piece. This work, Kyle Benjamin’s  “Midnight Sniffer” feels wrought from childhood dreams. The personification of plants hinted at here has a long held place in the human mythos. I was pulled in by this creation.

 

Midnight Sniffer by Kyle Benjamin

Midnight Sniffer by Kyle Benjamin

A truly representative show includes other more domestic creatures and themes that may also be in the hearts and minds of our artists.

Witness Bethany Bash.

Portrait of Zia by Bethany Bush

Portrait of Zia by Bethany Bush

Other familiar names appear near the end of the second quadrant and continue into the third.

Justin Cook.

photo by Justin Cook

Where Goes The Neighborhood by Justin Cook

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Andria Linn.

Just One More by Andria Linn

Just One More by Andria Linn

I don’t know the beguiling work of Afrokat, but I loved “Tones of Understanding”.

Tones of Understanding by Afrokat

Tones of Understanding by Afrokat

Nor did I know of Ariana Stokes whose pen and ink piece, “Unnamed Galaxy”, also moved me.

Unnamed Galaxy by Ariana Stokes

Unnamed Galaxy by Ariana Stokes

The fourth quadrant, the eastern wall, began with a superbly curated corner just past the Carrack’s desk. I loved the flow of ideas and interplay between these pieces.

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The Magnet Board of Earthly Delights –Mixed Media- by Reti Crocker

The Magnet Board of Earthly Delights –Mixed Media- by Reti Crocker

The Magnet Board of Earthly Delights is a Hieronymus Bosch-like actual magnet board where artist Reti Crocker encourages you to take magnet. The backing has already been sold.

Flowered Chains –oil on canvas- by Kevin Peddicord

Flowered Chains –oil on canvas- by Kevin Peddicord

To the right, emma Robinson’s acrylic Zamioculcas sprouts roots in mid-air.

Zamioculcas by emma Robinson

Zamioculcas by emma Robinson

Rachel A. Reyes collage “The Herbalist” intrigues me greatly. Mighty goat head amidst flowers, what do you mean? Naturally, it’s NFS.

The Herbalist – collage- by Rachel A. Reyes

The Herbalist – collage- by Rachel A. Reyes

In the corner, Olisa Corcoran’s hand embroidery on linen is thought provoking, toying with where nature and au natural meet.

Flora from Fauna –hand embroidery on linen- by Olisa Corcoran

Flora from Fauna –hand embroidery on linen- by Olisa Corcoran

Then immediately below it, Grey Hubbard’s “skulz” almost seem to have their mouths agape in response. I am always drawn to this graffiti referential look.

skulz –old wood, old paper, paint, and pens- by Grey Hubbard

skulz –old wood, old paper, paint, and pens- by Grey Hubbard

Also on wood adjacent is Katherine Heller’s “alive between”.

alive between –Mixed Media on wood by Katherine Heller

alive between –Mixed Media on wood by Katherine Heller

And below that is “Path to Light” by Alisa Mappes where it looks like you could kayak that river right into Katherine Heller’s piece above it.

Path to Light –Acrylic on canvas by Alisa Mappes

Path to Light –Acrylic on canvas by Alisa Mappes

The whole corner flowed together and drew me into it.

Later in the fourth quadrant of the room, Madelyn Smoak’s #MeToo mixed media, featuring the departed Amy Winehouse and a golden skeleton had ominous tones.

#MeToo -mixed media- by Madelyn Smoak

#MeToo -mixed media- by Madelyn Smoak

Art can remind us of the importance of asking forgiveness and making amends while we can.

Georgie –Acrylic on tin- Amelia Herb

Georgie –Acrylic on tin- Amelia Herb

adjacent to

Green –Acrylic on wood- by Jones Michael

Green –Acrylic on wood- by Jones Michael

More haunting faces appeared as I continued my journey down that wall.

 Speak –Mixed media, paint, tea bags, newspaper, magazines, tissue paper, original Sharpie drawings, watercolor– by Sallie

Speak –Mixed media, paint, tea bags, newspaper, magazines, tissue paper, original Sharpie drawings, watercolor– by Sallie

 

Seasons –Felted wool glass beads- by Rebekah Velazquez

Seasons –Felted wool glass beads- by Rebekah Velazquez

 

Mis Flores –Paint and paper on canvas- by Jennifer Larios Dominguez –sold for a bargain $60

Mis Flores –Paint and paper on canvas- by Jennifer Larios Dominguez –sold for a bargain $60

 

Untitled –Coptic markers and ink pen- by Lucy Lyons

Untitled –Coptic markers and ink pen- by Lucy Lyons

 

Glitter Boys –collage- by Laura Madejcyzk

Glitter Boys –collage- by Laura Madejcyzk

Near the end, I liked Michael Riesch’s “okay”. It is an assembly of found objects, graphite, and typewriter. I wasn’t comforted. I was challenged. Will everything be okay? Only today, I had a “holy shit” conversation about what ICE raids are really like in Charlotte with someone who had relatives detained by the State for the crime of merely sitting afuera.

 

okay –found objects, graphite, and typewriter- by Michael Riesch

okay –found objects, graphite, and typewriter- by Michael Riesch

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Next old friend, Clarion Content contributor, and long-time Carrack loyalist, Chris Vitiello made me think about how I think.

untitled –typewriting- by Chris Vitiello

untitled –typewriting- by Chris Vitiello

Even more red dots had appeared in this fourth quadrant as I pondered the depth and sheer numbers of our local artistic class. This is a subject I know that Carrack co-founder Laura Ritchie is researching in great detail.

The final corner of the room held one last demonstration of our local artists’ range. Sculptural works.

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T4 bacteriophage viral cell with sequenced internal DNA, copper wire, glass, stone beads- by Alica Moya-Mendez

T4 bacteriophage viral cell with sequenced internal DNA, copper wire, glass, stone beads- by Alica Moya-Mendez

 

Topiary Bunny –Felt on ceramic- by Keith Hayes

Topiary Bunny –Felt on ceramic- by Keith Hayes

Overall I was entranced, even blown away by the Carrack’s Winter Community Show. Inside those walls, I was enraptured. Outside of them, I was forced, even on a Sunday afternoon to immediately re-engage with where we were in Durham. Three police cars swooped into the convenience store across the street. Idling for a few minutes questioning someone before moving on.

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A few steps down the street there are holes in the sidewalk.

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This is life in Durham.

Art is a place for our reactions, emotions, thoughts, and dreams about our city, our world, our lives. The Carrack is strong, but pliant, open and accepting, a willing and gracious home for Durham art. Go see the community show.

Reflect.

Then buy something to bring home.

Support the arts community. Art supports the community.

The Carrack’s Winter Community Show runs through February 4th.

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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