DUAL/FOCUS, an art exhibition sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, will be on display Feb. 4 through March 22 in the Miriam Preston Block Art Gallery at the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett St. This is the first exhibition of the 2010 “Exhibiting Dichotomies” Municipal Building Exhibition Series.

DUAL/FOCUS features the works of artists Jason Arthurs, Gabriella Corter, Mary Shannon Johnstone, Judy Jones, Mary Kay Kennedy, Julie Niskanen, Alison Overton, Kristianne Ripple, and Susan Soper. Digital fiber art by Tricia McKellar will be on display in cases. Rachel Berry and Sarah Powers will curate the exhibition.

An opening day reception for DUAL/FOCUS, featuring music by Starmount, will be held Thursday, Feb. 4 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Block Art Gallery.

“La Mia Sorella,” by Mary Shannon Johnstone whose work will appear in the DUAL/FOCUS art exhibition
“La Mia Sorella,” by Mary Shannon Johnstone whose work will appear in the DUAL/FOCUS art exhibition

Blurring the lines between tradition and innovation, artists featured in DUAL/FOCUS explore the roots of photography and printmaking in both technology and fine art. Photographs in the exhibition span from dreamlike and other-worldly to those that appear to be taken right out of daily life.

For example, Mr. Arthurs utilizes his background in documentary work to aid him in his more current pursuits of experimenting with modern digital photography. In contrast, Ms. Corter creates surreal photographic images without digital alterations, forcing viewers to question what exactly it is that they are seeing.  Ms. Johnstone’s images examine the curious feeling of being both adrift and stationary, a sensation inspired by a visit to the North Carolina coast, while the split between reality and apparent reality is broached in Ms. Kennedy’s photographs. Dreamlike landscapes and images infused with history are created with Ms. Overton’s mixing of older manual film cameras and oil painting techniques.

The printmakers of DUAL/FOCUS, provide a diverse body of works as well, tackling topics ranging from nature to charts and formulas to the idea of solitude.  “The Cruciferae,” a four-petaled flower, is repeated throughout Ms. Jones’ printmaking, serving as a personal icon. Ms. Niskanen brings to life often overlooked images and forms of the natural world. Inspired by a 1950s’ science encyclopedia and its varied charts and formulas, Ms. Ripple contemplates the idea of physical and mental journeys.  With hand-pulled lithographic prints, Ms. Soper looks at isolated individuals and their internal thoughts.

Ms. Berry, co-curator for DUAL/FOCUS has coordinated more than 60 exhibitions as the director of Programs and Exhibitions at Visual Art Exchange.  Recent curatorial work includes the North Carolina graffiti and street artists based exhibition, “Window-Down: Beyond Street Art,” and the media based artwork of Michael Fels, Dana Raymond, Sally Van Gorder, William Booth Taylor, and Ronald Lambert in the exhibition “eNTER aCTION.” Ms. Berry holds a degree in art history from Davidson College.

The other co-curator of DUAL/FOCUS Ms. Powers, has overseen the coordination and installation of more than 350 exhibitions during the past nine years. Selected curatorial work includes highlighting the permanent collection of the Providence Art Club with the exhibition “Craft from the Collection” and exposing the work of underground emerging artists in Providence, R.I., with the exhibition “Artistos Anonimos.” In addition to her exhibition work, Ms. Powers is represented by The Mahler Fine Art gallery. Ms. Powers received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design. She is currently the executive director of Visual Art Exchange.

About the Miriam Preston Block Art Gallery
Connecting local artists to community through ongoing exhibitions and public outreach, the Miriam Preston Block Art Gallery is located on the first and second floors of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex.  The gallery is managed by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, and was dedicated in 2006 to honor Miriam Preston Block, a former Raleigh City Council member and community leader. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., except holidays.

Established in 1977 as the official advisory body and advocate for the arts to the Raleigh City Council, the City Raleigh Arts Commission holds the distinction of being the first municipal arts commission created in North Carolina. Serving as the leading force to champion the arts with Raleigh citizens and their representatives, the Arts Commission’s myriad activities foster, support, and promote the arts in the Capital City.

For more information, contact the Arts Commission office at 996-3610 or email Hannah Costner, gallery coordinator, at hannah.costner[at]ci.raleigh.nc.us.


By Triangle A&E

Bob has over thirty years experience as Creative Director at notable advertising and marketing agencies in Manhattan and Raleigh. Bob's creative has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Packaging Design Council, Magazine Design, NY Art Directors Club. In addition, Bob has been published in Graphic Design USA, American Design, and the Creativity Annual. In 2008, Bob was honored to Judge the International Association of Visual Artists "Davey Awards" for interactive and web design. Bob's passion for the arts has led him to utilize his talent and experience in support of the arts here in the Triangle by creating Triangle Arts and Entertainment.