Art NotesArts & Culture

Concurrent Exhibits Explore Race and Ethnicity in Art

“CONTRAPUNTO:” Borrowing its name from the musical term counterpoint—multiple melodic lines harmonically interdependent while simultaneously retaining their individuality—Contrapunto is a group of five professional Latin American visual artists who live and work in or near Atlanta. Brought together by friendship, shared heritage and a determined drive toward their artistic endeavors, the artists seek to expose people to the diversity of Latin artists living in America by organizing group shows in galleries and art centers across the country.

“Contrapunto,” currently on view in the Myers Gallery at Athens Academy, presents the refined, distinct styles of the current members: Mexican abstract painter Jorge Arcos, Peruvian abstract surrealist Pedro Fuertes, Peruvian abstract painter Dora Lopez, Venezuelan pop artist Stanley Bermudez and Venezuelan surrealist painter Carlos Solis.

Contrapunto’s founding member, Solis, creates dreamlike narratives that incorporate heavy doses of imagination, mythology and spirituality into otherworldly planes. Many of the Surrealist hallmarks can be found in his works—melting figures, floating entities, clocks and doorways that presumably lead to alternate worlds.


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Dora Lopez

Lopez, who graduated from the Escula Nacional de Bellas Artes in Peru and now lives in Marietta, creates delicately textured mixed media pieces that utilize cloth, sand, leaves and newspaper to add dimension to soft, natural tones of peach, honey, olive, teal and amber. Her husband, Fuertes, who also studied at Escula Nacional and went on to teach there, creates abstract works that are similarly textured, yet through paint alone. While some colors are etched with uniform lines, others are splashed, swirled or patterned to appear folded like crumpled metal.

The vibrant, tropical color palette of Bermudez is warmly welcomed in the gallery. His large, contemporary portraits employ a style of alternating bars of color, rather than blending, which creates a mesmerizing op-art illusion. The colorful and curvy abstract paintings of Arcos, who studied at the Escuela Superior de Arte y Dibujo Publicitario in Mexico City and now lives in Austell, also serve as fun, looping images to get lost in.

Part of the group’s philosophy is to help promote and incorporate the work of other emerging or established artists when possible, this time around including pieces by guest artists Alexis Mendoza and Claudia Soria. Mendoza, who was born in Cuba and studied art history at Havana University, now lives in New York City, where he works as an artist, writer, curator and co-founder of the Bronx Latin America Art Biennial. Soria, who was born in Bolivia and now resides in Charlotte, NC, currently serves as director of ArtSi, Charlotte, an initiative that supports Latin American artists in the area.

“Contrapunto” will remain on display through Friday, Apr. 24.

“AS WE WISH TO BE:” ATHICA’s first exhibition of the year, a solo installation by Atlanta-based artist Bethany Collins, is comprised of two large murals with clusters of handwritten letters appearing like constellations against black chalkboard paint. As part of her language-based “White Noise” series, the letters rearrange to spell messages such as “too white to be black.” Born to a white mother and black father, Collins creates subtle, deeply personal conceptual works that visually deconstruct language to explore the relationships between race and identity.

ATHICA will host “Racial Identity + Art,” a panel discussion held in conjunction with Collins’ exhibit, on Thursday, Feb. 26 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Panelists include Stanley Bermudez, who in addition to being an artist in Contrapunto, is an art professor at UGA and the University of North Georgia; Valerie Babb, professor of English and director of the Institute for African American Studies at UGA; and Alisha M. Cromwell, a PhD candidate in UGA’s department of history. Local artist and former ATHICA director Hope Hilton will lead “As We Are: A Kids’ Workshop” on Sunday, Mar. 1 from 2:30–4:30 p.m., giving children of all ages an opportunity also to explore themes of identity and acceptance through activities sponsored by Treehouse Kid & Craft and Double Helix.

“As We Wish to Be” will remain on view through Sunday, Mar. 8.

LUNCHTIME LEARNING: The Athens-Clarke County Library will host “The Black Image in American Art from the 18th through the 20th Century” on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 12:15 p.m. Geraldine H. Williams, a docent at the Georgia Museum of Art, will lead a program focusing on how African Americans have been represented in paintings, drawings and sculptures over time. Beverages are provided during the library’s monthly Lunchtime Learning lectures, and attendees are encouraged to bring along a sack lunch.