Short Stories July 2021
Let’s hear it for Ancient Egypt for making the earliest you-know-what from the dense, reedy sedge along the Nile. Paper, we’d be lost without you. You know our darkest secrets and our deepest longings. Frankly, you complete us. This month, Weatherspoon Art Museum’s biennial Art on Paper exhibit celebrates the many ways this humble medium can be used to delight, surprise, affect and inspire us. Art on Paper 2021: The 46th Exhibition opens on Saturday, July 24, and features everything from watercolor paper to corrugated cardboard and paper made by hand from newsprint and coffee filters. It likewise offers “creative entry points into urgent conversations,” such as racism, hybrid identities and the effects of social isolation. Don’t miss the virtual curator talk with Emily Stamey on Wednesday, July 28, noon, or the handful of artist talks being scheduled throughout the year. (Keep your eye on WAM’s events page.) Exhibit on display through November 27. The Bob & Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info/registration: weatherspoonart.org.
Smokin’ Hot Art
Artists don’t like to be boxed in. Except when they do.
Just look at those who supply Art-o-mat, the Winston-Salem company that dispenses small works, for five bucks a pop, from rehabbed cigarette vending machines.
The palm-size pieces — some rendered on wood blocks, some tucked inside boxes, all wrapped in cellophane — drop down from inside 175 machines worldwide. Three can be found in this area: at Revolution Mill on Yanceyville Street; at Reconsidered Goods on Spring Garden Street; and at the newest site, Red Oak Brewery in Whitsett, where a sleek, blue-faced model was just installed.
“It’s a flawless machine,” says Clark Whittington, who re-worked the front of the box after being inspired by a picture of a mid-century clock. “I said, ‘That would make a beautiful Art-o-mat.’”
His vending operation — founded in a place once known as “Camel City” because of its tobacco industry roots — draws on an international stable of 300 painters, printmakers, sculptors, jewelers and other creators who often downsize their wares to reach more people. Some well-known local artists — including Marie Stone-van Vuuren of Greensboro and John Gall of Jamestown — work with AOM.
The business, which sports the slogan “Kerplunking Culture Since 1997,” would like to recruit more Triad artists.
“It works great to get your work into places you might never visit,” says Whittington, who leases out machines all over the U.S., with outposts as far away as Austria and Australia. Museums, galleries, hotels and breweries are the most common clients; they order the pieces they want for their machines.
Art-o-mat’s wee works also are available to the public in pre-stuffed Art-o-cartons and Christmas stockings. To order the cartons and stockings, or to read the artists’ guidelines for prototypes, go to www.artomat.org. — MJ
Sing the Red, White and Blues
“I’ve had a couple of times on stage when I really felt free,” said North Carolina’s late, great Nina Simone. And what, she was asked, is freedom? “No fear,” chimed the civil rights activist and jazz icon. “I mean, really no fear.” On Friday, July 2, at 8 p.m., the Ghostlight Concert Series presents North Carolina soul singer Jasmé Kelly’s stirring tribute to Nina Simone and Freedom. Powerhouse vocalist Mysti Mayhem opens. Go, listen and see if you don’t experience a moment of total and absolute liberation. Tickets: $25 (advance), $30 (at the door). Carolina Theatre,
310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: carolinatheatre.com.
What’s happening at GreenHill Center for NC Art? A stretch of the imagination, if you will, and a double dose of Greensboro. Rebecca Fagg + Jack Stratton: Two Retrospectives opens on Friday, July 16, at the gallery from noon until 5 p.m. and online. Fagg and Stratton, who both hold B.F.A.s from UNC Greensboro, are longtime exhibitors at GreenHill. This comprehensive exhibit features over 200 works and spans five decades — quiet a stretch. Witnessing each artist explore different media and develop their unique approach to art is a bit like traveling through space and time, although considerably less dizzying. Exhibit on display through November 7. GreenHill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: greenhillnc.org.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
I once watched a squirrel attempt to drag an entire loaf of bread up an oak tree. Poor thing didn’t get very far. And you, who were born under the sign of Cancer, won’t either — unless you let go of what’s holding you back. Alternatively, that could be a metaphor about your relationship with carbs. Either way, it’s likely to be an emotional month for you. But you’ve been around the sun enough times to know at least one thing: Your softness is your superpower. Happy birthday, Crabcakes.
Tea leaf “fortunes” for the rest of you:
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Do sunflowers mean anything to you? They should. Also, pay attention to your dreams this month.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Got your next breakup album ready? Just kidding. It’s time to lighten up.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
You’re taking one for the team this month. Deep breaths. This too shall pass.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
Drink the tea before it goes cold. You know what I’m talking about.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Is there a special Virgo in your life? If so, draw them a salt bath. If not, probably for the best.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Just say you’re sorry — it’s not that hard — and move on.
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
You’ve outgrown the shoes. That’s OK. You won’t be needing them.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Someone needs a hug. And a bubble bath. But don’t spill the nail polish this time.
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
The missing piece isn’t actually missing. But you’re working on the wrong puzzle.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
A new flavor will be entering your world. Two words: Moderation, darling.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
This will make sense later: Wear the blue one. For now: Mind your tongue.
Zora Stellanova has been divining with tea leaves since Game of Thrones’ Starbucks cup mishap of 2019. While she’s not exactly a medium, she’s far from average. She lives in the N.C. foothills with her Sphynx cat, Lyla.