Acme exhibit to showcase diverse work of 22 artists

Star News , WIlmington, NC
April 11, 2008

By Isabel Heblich, Star-News Correspondent

Eccentric, prolific, beatnik and terrific, the work of Acme Art's 22 artists also is romantic, explicit, sarcastic and "inter-scholastic."

A spring cleaning of the soul, the fruits of a long gestating winter in Acme's studio building on Fifth Avenue in downtown Wilmington will be exhibited 1-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with a reception 6-9 p.m. Saturday.

Acme founder Dick Roberts, whom many pegged as an abstract painter until his recent photography show, unearths some dark, grotesque, comical collages from the early '90s. They spin strange fun-house narratives between antique lace, cut-up credit cards and spray-paint stencils of what looks like a freak-show fat-lady wrestler and a naive 1950s couple whose male-half has a criminal smile.

The little art-birdie, who whispers ideas around the old warehouse, covered its bases and brought painter MJ Cunningham to bat with large, abstract colorfills - "Dick and I kind of switched roles here," Cunningham said in a studio interview. Her three-piece series Analogous Red, Blue and Yellow, inspired by a class on the subject she is now teaching at Cape Fear Community College, is somewhere between observing curious cell-functions under a microscope and deciphering a primal tally system.

Artist Richard T. Wright creates innovations in perspective by drilling holes in the frames or shadowboxes of his glass collages, making intimate peep hole views into the nostalgic rhetoric of his life.

We see word play from new arrival Leslie Pearsons' pieces: a hyper-realist portrait paired with scrawling poetry like passing clouds through her recurring "bird on a wire" image. A Jasper Johns-style word collage repeats the block letters of "Blue" in red.

Photographer Arrow Ross contributed prints from his recent Acme show, documenting the Hindu and Buddhist sculptures from Thailand. The sharpness of shape in these super-saturated altars give them a supernatural, dizzyingly unreal fascination.

Groomed landscape painter Chappy Valente shows new strength and unexpected sensuality in watercolor and oil figurative painting.

Painter Pam Toll, master of sensualities, contributes collages and paintings that are, as they so consistently are, unspeakably beautiful encyclopedias of dreams of the heart.

New arrival sculptor Adrian Willis, contributes a minimalist, intellectual metal re-creation of a Kiss in 12 inches. The simple bent steel bars have a provocative effect changed by the reflective sphere heads, taking the minds of the kissers away from each other and into the brainy, skeptical world. "It's part of my four-letter word-series," Willis said in the studio. "There's a few others."