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.
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.
The first corner held such an array of works that I was almost lost for a second.
My eye paused for a second.
In a burst of irony, the first work that made me pause, was called “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 think my favorite piece in the first quadrant was Adriane R. Osborne’s “Frost Fractal”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
This Dare Kumolu Johnson was also not for sale.
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.
Further down the wall I was pleased to see my dear old friend, Caroline Crawford’s Blue Dragon had sold.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other familiar names appear near the end of the second quadrant and continue into the third.
I don’t know the beguiling work of Afrokat, but I loved “Tones of Understanding”.
Nor did I know of Ariana Stokes whose pen and ink piece, “Unnamed Galaxy”, also moved me.
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.
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.
To the right, emma Robinson’s acrylic Zamioculcas sprouts roots in mid-air.
Rachel A. Reyes collage “The Herbalist” intrigues me greatly. Mighty goat head amidst flowers, what do you mean? Naturally, it’s NFS.
In the corner, Olisa Corcoran’s hand embroidery on linen is thought provoking, toying with where nature and au natural meet.
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.
Also on wood adjacent is Katherine Heller’s “alive between”.
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.
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.
Art can remind us of the importance of asking forgiveness and making amends while we can.
More haunting faces appeared as I continued my journey down that wall.
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.
Next old friend, Clarion Content contributor, and long-time Carrack loyalist, Chris Vitiello made me think about how I think.
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.
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.
A few steps down the street there are holes in the sidewalk.
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.
Then buy something to bring home.
Support the arts community. Art supports the community.