Visions of Black Mountain College
Cynthia Homire: Vision Quest, a new exhibition opening Friday, Jan. 24, at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, merges the lyrical with the figurative and the textural with the contextual. And with a slight touch of paradox.
Curated by Asheville painter and BMCM+AC board member Connie Bostic, the exhibition features poems, paintings, dozens of line drawings and ceramic works. Homire, who studied at BMC from 1950 to 1954, and her life-long partner Jorge Fick, who also graduated from BMC, ran life-drawing sessions from their Santa Fe gallery and studio, where they also made stoneware. Those sessions deepened Homire’s dedication to the figure and have provided much of the work for the exhibition.
In between these visual works, though, are the poems. Handwritten, lyrical morsels jotted down on loose-leaf paper and large-format reproductions break with the gallery’s visual stride. It’s in these poems that you become aware of her sense of humor and of her loss. Homire was diagnosed with macular degeneration in 1990, leading to near total blindness — a would-be fatal blow for an artist, and hence, the paradox in the show’s title.
But Homire carried on. Drawing, painting and potting receded, though they didn’t vanish. (In fact, she’s recently picked them back up.) In the past decade, though, poetry assumed the lead role in manifesting her creative energies. “She has done all these things in her life depending on circumstance,” Bostic told Xpress. “When she began to lose her eyesight, she started to focus on poetry.”
Homire did so with a tact and grace that Bostic attributes to the artist’s sense of humor. “There’s such a freedom to the figures and to the line quality,” she says. That same carefree approach carries over from line to lyric.
In “Faces,” Homire mentions the sudden struggles of day-to-day conversations, but with a playfulness, of course: “I said I had lost/face … faces/ Couldn’t see them/anymore/Where did they go? Up?” she asks. “Try as I might I/am left staring/hopefully at/a neck or/a bosom/if there is one.”
Untitled, by Cynthia Homire
Homire studied at Black Mountain College in the institution’s waning years. She focused on drawing, ceramics and poetry while there and studied under such renowned figures as M. C. Richards, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, David Weinrib and Karen Karnes. But like all BMC students, she was versed in all of the school’s offerings. Or at least, she was acquainted with their departmental leaders:
“Yes, I have rubbed shoulders with the pantheon, a few bellies too,” she admits in a press release. “Washed the floor Merce Cunningham danced on, then went leaping through his class. Jitterbugged with Rauschenberg. Shared steak with William Carlos Williams. Breakfast with Brautigan.”
The names associated with the college seem endless, as are the stories. Just when you thought you’d heard of all the connections, you can likely find one more literary, artistic and philosophical behemoth that spent the night there in a hammock or was thrown into the lake.
The chance encounter was the norm, it would seem. “All these things happen if you are there for them,” says Homire.
Her poems and artworks share in that happenstance minimalism. They capture slumps and slouched and minuscule moments of dogs stretched out on their backs in quick unbroken lines in the same manner that she’s reduced an entire dining experience with satirical, literary heavyweight into three words. They reduce and question perception. And anytime she seems to near a conclusion, she breaks.
“It’s not what/you think,” she says in the poem “Nine,” adding, “It’s something else.”
Cynthia Homire: Vision Quest opens from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Copies of “Vision Quest,” a book of poems and drawings will be available for purchase. And as an added bonus, Homire has flown in from Taos to attend the opening.
Center for Craft, Creativity and Design opens
Across the street from BMCM+AC, at 67 Broadway, the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design will open for the first time since relocating from Hendersonville. Its maiden exhibition, Taking Shape: Celebrating the Windgate Fellowship, opens from 5 to 7 p.m.
The exhibit features new works by past recipients of the annual Windgate Fellowship, one of the nonprofit’s flagship programs. Each year since 2006, the center, in partnership with the Arkansas-based Windgate Charitable Foundation, awards 10 $15,000 grants to graduating college seniors working in the field of craft and design.
The works on display encompass traditional modes of craft, conceptually derived modern pieces and everything in between. Handwoven and pigmented textiles share space with tintype photographs and a re-designed rocking chair.
Taking Shape is on display through May 3 in the Center’s Benchspace Gallery & Workshop and was curated by Cindi Strauss of Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Tex. Asheville is the second stop for the collection, which premiered at SOFA Chicago in October and heads next to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
Biltmore Avenue Mural Project
Following a late-summer call to artists, the city-appointed selection panel for a new public art piece at 51 Biltmore Ave. have narrowed its options to three projects. The city of Asheville and the Public Art and Cultural Commission will hold a public forum on the ongoing mural project. The six-member selection panel and the project finalists will meet this Friday, Jan. 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church (60 Church St.).
The call to artists was nationwide with a regional preference — which has resulted in a strong local turnout. Two of the three projects chosen were from right here in Asheville. (See “City of Asheville Seeks Input on Public Art Project 51 Biltmore Ave.”)
The project space is located on the Biltmore Avenue parking deck. More specifically, it’s on the north side of the Aloft Hotel, above the Aston Street exit, and is roughly 22 feet wide by 25 feet tall. Project finalists include Mike Allison, a Joelton, Tenn.-based glass artist, and Asheville-based stone mason Marc Archambault. They’re joined by Asheville muralists Ian Wilkinson and Alex Irvine. A ceramicist by profession, Irvine recently moved to Santa Fe, N.M., but will be in attendance none the less.
The forum is seeking public input and ideas about the potential work’s design, imagery and socio-historical content. Final design proposals will come out in April and will be followed by a second round of public input before a project is chosen. For more information, visit the Asheville Downtown Association’s website.