I am not even sure how to write a sentence that expresses how lucky I feel to live in the Triangle. The community that I have been able to experience here is certainly thing 1- and thing 2 is that the art this community (hopefully some of you all!) has shown this year is fantastic! This list of shows will certainly not be a “best of” and clearly is going to be biased towards non-representational work with a few (I hope) surprising exceptions. Ten seemed like a good number for one of these year-end count-down-type lists.
So first and foremost, Clarence Heywards’s UNSEEN at CAM was hands down the best painting show in the Triangle in 2022 and I will gladly catch you outside if you disagree. Not only was the cavernous, main gallery at CAM the ideal siting for these ginormous works, they have a deft combination of sleek yet unshowy craftsmanship and timely social commentary (BIPOC people shown with green screens for skin so that we can all think about the things we project onto blackness that amount to not actually seeing black people, are you kidding me- brilliant!!!). Yes it isn’t abstraction but awesome is awesome.
The rest of these are in no particular order.
My favorite show at Anchorlight was Mike Geary’s Hidden Entrance. The body of work Mike has made probably straddles a line- are they really abstract, or abstractions (there’s a lot that’s biomorphic going on for sure)? There’s an element of automatism in the work which comes through strong- an obsessive development of forms. While a lot of choices are clearly conscious if you read Mike’s statement for the show, there is (they are?) space which Mike creates for impulse and spontaneity, which I vibe with.
Lump exhibited a fantastic if small group of paintings by Zach Storm, along with many of his drawings, called Say What You See. Similar to Mike, I picked up a strong surrealist influence in Zach’s work, commenting to a friend that they felt like Wolfgang Tilmans had a dream of Yves Tanguy and woke up and decided to be a painter. There’s a world building element too that is utterly fascinating and absorbing to me. Yeah for good painting!
One artist I know for sure utilizes automatic drawing is Jason Lord, who, along with Linda Cato, put together Landmarks at DAG’s Golden Belt space. There was an element of belief in something almost magical that I can’t put my finger on- Cato’s journey being more outward and Lord’s inward. Call it a belief in something… greater which makes it no surprise they’ve both abandoned language and embraced abstraction. File under “pairs nicely.”
Readers will know that I have a relationship with Charlotte Russell Contemporary (being included in Experiments in Form was a personal ’22 highlight for me). Bias aside, Charlotte curated In Proximity back in May, which was an amazing two person show of 2 of the best colorists in the Triangle, Kelly Shepherd Murray and Peter Marin.
Speaking of Peter- Diamante Arts and Cultural Center upgraded their space this year and their game with the selection of Peter as head curator. His first show in their new space was a hit- Rosalía Torres Weiner’s Mi Gente , Un Refleio. I had the pleasure of talking with Rosalía at the opening and her paintings and pallet reflect the energy of her personality.
There is probably no more appropriate venue in Raleigh for a show of Pop Art than 311 gallery, given it is the space in town where commerce and culture collide and the fact that Pop is and should be exactly what it appears to be on the surface. OMG WOW is also perhaps the best show title of any other I saw this year. Perhaps the best part was, with 80 (!) artists, you had to hunt for your favorites- kind of like, well, popular culture!
I think I can speak for all painters in the Triangle when I say we appreciate the shows that Ashlyn Browning curates (she ain’t a bad painter herself) and Color/Form at Block gallery was a certainly a gift. Jerstin Crosby‘s loopy geometry never disappoints and Martha Clippinger regularly unravels (I’m hilarious right?) many of our silly ideas about what is painterly- together, even more fun.
A-Piece A-Part at Artspace is one of the only shows on this list that readers can still get out to see (up till 2-12-23). I do enjoy seeing something I’ve never seen before (I am an American artist after all) and this show delivers. Regina Jestrow’s and Allan Rosenbaum’s delight with materiality makes this a really tactile show.
And last but definitely not least (and up through January 8), Nasher Museum’s Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948 – 1960 is the most instructive experience I had in an exhibit this year (fitting for a museum). The story we get is one of a young Roy attempting to find his voice by synthesizing Modernism and the idea of an avant-garde. There’s so much to process and think on- our definitions of Modernism and what it was like to ivnvetigage that epoch as lived experience; to digest European ideas about the relationship of archetype and myth to form and use that energy to transmute the stories Americans tell themselves about who we are; and certainly not least of all, that he did have a period where he made abstraction prior to his Pop brushstrokes.