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Visual Arts Fall Preview 

Important dates to keep

Painted seashells, watercolors of rolling dunes, wind bent sea grass, lighthouses, sailboats and green waves lapping white sands under a blood red horizon. Ahhhhh ...

Hey, wake up! It's time to pack the car and head home. Vacation's over. No more of that la de da, looks good after three beers, flip-flop beach art. There's real art waiting at home in Charlotte.

click to enlarge GROUND SWELL Piece by Edward Hopper included in Encouraging American Genius show at the Mint Museum of Art - CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART & WILLIAM A. CLARK FUND

The Queen City has the antidote for your salt stung and sun weary eyes. The fall season of visual art in Charlotte is upon us. Roll off the floatation device, rinse off the sun block and put on something less Tahitian. On the drive home, get out your calendar and pencil these days in:

Friday, Sept. 1, 6-9pm, Elder Gallery, 1427 South Blvd.: Jung Han Kim will open his first solo East Coast show to inaugurate the Elder Gallery season. Kim was named one of the Top 21 Artists under the age of 31 by SouthWest Art magazine. He is a faculty member at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Kim's work is inventive and mercurial; he combines old world technique -- a kind of baroque impressionism -- with imagery culled from the streets of San Francisco, to arrive at an isolated and lush ballroom where Edward Hopper and Goya are slow dancing.

And he's more affordable than either of those guys.

Friday, Sept. 8, 6-8pm: Hodges Taylor Gallery; show runs from Sept. 8 through Oct. 27: Hodges Taylor Gallery has opened the doors to four new painters from Greensboro and three been-around-the-block photographers from New Orleans. The painters are all young and all recently have matriculated from the fine, under recognized, UNC-Greensboro graduate arts department. Traditional, realistic self portraits; forbidding urban landscapes birthing nefarious nocturnal denizens; oil paintings of everyday objects made luminescent; city scapes swallowed by salt water -- I'll begin this cultural season setting old eyes on a new generation of artists. Hope springs eternal.

Speaking of which, eternal hope is embodied in the photographs of three established photographers still working in New Orleans long after the TV news crews have packed up and gone home. Carl Bergman captures historic New Orleans before and after Katrina's visit, David Halliday infuses intimacy into his besieged community through his sepia-toned portraits, and Deborah Luster gives form to the forgotten faces imprisoned behind block walls in Louisiana.

This is no walk on the beach for the culturally intrepid.

Oct. 1, 12pm-7pm, on the lawn at the Mint Museum of Art: The Latin American Festival is one of Charlotte's lesser known -- and better -- festivals. Salsa and jazz, dancing and dance lessons, art making for the kids. Great food. Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art inside.

Latin-flavored fun and foolishness in an atmosphere far south of the things-fall-apart frenetics of recent downtown events. Kids behave, mostly. It's $5 to get in, $3 for kids 9-12; shorter kids and members are free.

Oct. 7 at the Mint Museum of Art: The heavyweight show at the Mint this fall is Encouraging American Genius: Master Paintings from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Corcoran is one of the best museums in America, and the artists coming to our hometown museum walls are a few of the best in the last 300 years. John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt and Thomas Hart Benton are names enough to draw most eyes over 21 years old. I envy those who have yet to see these artists -- you'll be delighted to see this much brilliance delivered by your late fellow Americans.

click to enlarge DEEP RIVER 2 Included in Brian Rutenberg's Riverbend exhibit at Jerald Melberg Gallery
  • DEEP RIVER 2 Included in Brian Rutenberg's Riverbend exhibit at Jerald Melberg Gallery

Are we stretching a bit here to feel pridefully patriotic? Little else around right now -- I'll take it.

Oct. 20 6-8pm, Jerald Melberg Gallery; show runs through Dec. 9: Brian Rutenberg's show is called Riverbend I don't know why this guy isn't famous yet. Maybe he is. I've never Googled his name.

Don't miss seeing this painter, one of the best I've seen in Charlotte, one of the best I've seen anywhere. He will answer that nagging question you continually ask yourself at stoplights on the way home from work: "Why do people paint pictures?"

Rutenberg's latest paintings take him deeper into the forests of the South Carolina low country, and take us with him, through the trees and beyond the natural objects which inspire his paintings. We arrive here, at the Melberg Gallery, to view mutated landscapes of form and color and composition -- to the peculiar, and rare, landscape of the painter's imagination.

Brian Rutenberg has shown twice before in Charlotte, and you can stop spanking yourself for missing those shows. Be here now.

Now through Oct. 12, Knight Gallery, the Light Factory at Spirit Square: Me. Mini me. Maxi me. Me face, me profile, me backside. Me, me, me.

An Exhibit of Self-Portraiture is a show of photographs of the artists paying attention to the face housing the eye behind the camera. The sound of our own name is music to our ears, and the sight of the artist's face, or back, or feet is ... well, you be the judge.

Why go to this show? Because great photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe, Pinky Bass and Constance Thalken will show themselves without the foggy interference of a proxy object. All art is autobiographical. Self portraiture is all that and confessional. I'll see what they think of themselves, and discover what I think of them. At worst, the show feeds the randy voyeur beast clawing at the walls of everyman's heart. No great sin.

Thursday, Oct. 26, the Light Factory at Spirit Square: The Light Factory's 25th Annual Auction begins at 6pm with a silent auction, and continues at 8pm with the live auction. The Factory press release iterates the second best reason to come here: To buy great art. The best reason is because it is fun. It's exciting like a car auction is exciting, except here you get to drive away with something that will clean the air and appreciate instead of foul the air and depreciate.

Welcome back. The table awaits. Feasting is voluntary.

Fall Preview

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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