Unfamiliar territory: New exhibit opens at 21st Street Studios
“With contemporary art we’re challenging the familiar,” Peter Prinz said gazing at Current and Past Conversations, the art installation in 21st Street Studios.
The walls are blank, bright white and bare. Instead, paintings and sculptures hang aloft, suspended from the ceiling. Pottery descends from silver chains. The effect is surprising and dynamic as the eyes wander from piece to piece. A visceral tug of curiosity pulls the viewer through the space.
Prinz, CEO and cofounder of Space One Eleven, curated Current and Past Conversations inspired by the history of 21st Street Studios and the artists who occupy the studio space or who have in the past. Local artists like Elizabeth Marie Farr, Dave Matson, Darius Hill and Mary Grace Wolnski are represented in the exhibit.
The opening reception on Thursday, June 18, will serve as a homecoming for artist Sara Garden Armstrong, who is also the building’s owner. Armstrong lived and worked in Birmingham before moving to New York in 1981, but reserved 21st Street Studios for her resident artists.
The evening is also a reunion of the artists who contributed to the studio’s reputation as a haven for creatives — a Southern take on the late Carnegie Hall Studios. The artists’ voices will echo through the exhibit when it is completed, Prinz explained. The curator recorded each artist telling a story — anything the artist wanted to say, whether about their art or life or whatever happened to be on their mind.
“I wanted to capture the energy of conversation in the space,” Prinz said.
The space does open itself to dialogue; the art sparks conversation and the entire building pulses with living history.
21st Street Studios is located at 111 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard. S. (entrance in the alley at the yellow door). The opening reception is free and will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit 21st Street Studio Artists on Facebook.
THURSDAY, JUNE 11
Unreliable Flying Objects Artist Reception — Hoover Public Library. 200 Municipal Dr., Hoover. Naked Art Gallery owner and artist Véronique “Véro” Vanblaere, whose new works are currently on display at the Hoover Library, will have an artist reception in the Friends Gallery. Attendees will be able to meet Vanblaere and view the gallery while mingling with other art lovers. Unreliable Flying Objects features Véro’s quirky cast of interstellar characters, bold color palette and mixed media prowess. 5:30–7:30 p.m. Free. For more information, visit hooverlibrary.org.
Build, Throw, Fire! — Shelby County Arts Council Gallery. 104 Mildred St., Columbiana. Every Thursday evening through July 6, SCAC Pottery Collective member Nita Terrell teaches this beginner or refresher class on wheel throwing and hand building. Students get individual time with the instructor as they learn other pottery techniques like glazing and color selection. 5–7:30 p.m. $115 plus registration fee. For more information, visit shelbycountyartscouncil.com.
FRIDAY, JUNE 12
Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College Opening — Birmingham Museum of Art. 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. Hale Woodruff was not only a master muralist and painter apprenticed under Diego Rivera, but also a patriarch of African American art. His narrative realism murals, currently on their last stretch of the exhibition’s national tour, depict highlights in the history of Talladega College and the Amistad mutiny and trial. The entire exhibit chronicles Woodruff’s artistic growth through decades of reinvention and will be available through September 6. The opening reception will be held in conjunction with Art on the Rocks. 7–11 p.m. $25. For more information, visit artsbma.org.
SATURDAY, JUNE 13
Art in the Gardens — Aldridge Gardens. 3530 Lorna Rd., Hoover. Aldridge Gardens’ annual juried art show kicks off this weekend. Local and national artists will show their work in painting, glass, woodworking, metal and other media while competing for category and best-of-show awards. Art, jewelry and food will be available for purchase. Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. $5. For more information, visit aldridgegardens.com.
Color Theory Classes — Alabama Art Supply. 1006 23rd St. S. Artists of all levels can learn or refresh color skills and understand more about color properties during these theory classes led by Mike Grecian. Supplies will be provided. Introduction class, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Advanced class, 1:30–4:30 p.m. $50 per class. For more information, call (205) 322-4741.
THURSDAY, JUNE 18
ARTFix! — Space One Eleven. 2409 2nd Ave N. Space One Eleven is offering an ongoing figure drawing and portraiture class led by artist Andy Jordan. Participants will experience drawing from a live model. Classes will include demonstrations, discussions and critiques. Thursdays, 6:15–8:45 p.m. $25. For more information, visit spaceoneeleven.org.
Quilt Fest 2015 — Oak Mountain Middle School. 5650 Cahaba Valley Rd. This juried quilt show brings Birmingham’s quilters and quilt enthusiasts together for a weekend of shopping, demonstrations, giveaways and awards. A special exhibition of Japanese quilts and a silent auction benefitting the Lakeshore Foundation’s Lima Foxtrot programs will round out the event. Friday, June 19 through Saturday, June 20. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. $7. For more information, visit bhamquilters.com.
The Freedom Exhibition: Two Countries/One Struggle — Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. 1221 10th Ave. S. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, AEIVA offers the photography of Spider Martin and Peter Magubane. Fifty comparative photographs by each artist depict segregation in American and the South African apartheid. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday, 12–6 p.m. Through August 8. Free. For more information, call (205) 975-6436.
The Amazing Art of Local Curiosities — Birmingham Public Library (Central). 2100 Park Place. Birmingham artists Cory Casella, Melissa Shultz-Jones and Paul Cordes Wilm share their iconic and unconventional perspectives on life in the South in this exhibit in Birmingham’s downtown library. The exhibit will be available during library hours through June 26. Free. For more information, visit bplonline.org.
Focus 1: Identified — Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. 1221 10th Ave. S. AEIVA presents a new series of exhibits spotlighting local and regional art collections. Birmingham contemporary art collectors Jim Sokol and Lydia Cheney will share their collections in the first round of Focus, available through July 25. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday, 12–6 p.m. Free. For more information, call (205) 975-6436.
Selma to Montgomery: A March for the Right to Vote — Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. 520 16th St N. The photographs of Spider Martin depict the nonviolent actions taken toward equality during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. A native of Alabama, Martin’s photography is known worldwide. The BCRI highlights the march from Selma to Montgomery through Martin’s lens. Through June 26. For more information, visit bcri.org.
Willie Cole: Transformations — Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. 1221 10th Avenue S. Internationally recognized artist, Willie Cole is known for his work in mixed media, transforming ordinary objects into sculptures and compositions inspired by African American history and the artist’s personal experience. Shoes, bottles and cellophane transform into striking and complex works of art. Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday, 12–6 p.m. Through August 8. Free. For more information, call (205) 975-6436.