Those who've been wishing for something new from Charlotte artist Jerry Lee Kirk can consider themselves lucky. In his new exhibit, The Gathering of Wishes Unfulfilled, Kirk strays from his usual Q.C.-area landscapes and revisits the surreal settings of his fantasy-framed narratives. This doesn't mean he's turned his back on nature. Trees are present in at least two of his new works, "The Tree of Life, Death and Everything In-Between" and "Searching for a Place to Put Down Roots." Kirk seeks to convey statements about current society and the human condition. In "We Still Remember the Day When the Optimist Came to Town," Kirk shows happy children and a well-dressed man — the "optimist" — with an open suitcase that's unleashing colorful balloons. Their pathway is surrounded by dark hues and shadowed figures grimacing on the sidelines. The optimist isn’t based off of a particular person. "In these hard times that our country and the world in general has been going through, optimism has been scarce," says Kirk. "Even the slightest bit of positive thinking can be a catalyst to change things, and when that happens, it's a moment that will be remembered. And perhaps it can arrive in the form of person, a leader."