Considered to be the oldest front curtain for a theater in the Americas, the original 1858 curtain from historic Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, Wilmington, NC, has traveled to Cameron Art Museum for remedial art conservation and presentation to the public. Painted by Hudson River inspired artist, Russell Smith (Glasgow, Scotland 1812 – Glenside, PA 1896) the 14 foot x 32 foot curtain features a scene of mystic ceremony from ancient Greece. Painted in distemper on hand-sewn muslin, the curtain was originally 23 feet x 29 feet.
Having undergone many alterations during the last 157 years (and as is customary with scene paintings), it was never intended to survive. However due to its inherent beauty and the important part it plays in the story of Thalian Hall and the Wilmington community, the Thalian Hall board of trustees and staff decided to pursue a course of remedial conservation, to include mending of tears and in-painting of select regions having suffered darkened tide lines of water damage. The galleries of Cameron Art Museum proved the only local site with sufficient space, staffing and environmental and security controls to complete the work.
The exhibition affords the visitor the opportunity to see an image of “before” and study the “after” applications completed by paintings conservator, David Goist. The visitor can also compare old and new, in the realization of a full scale replica of Thalian’s original curtain painted by local artists in the adjacent exhibition gallery.
She tells a story celebrates the work of fifty-two visual artists from CAM’s permanent collection and connects the forms of visual and literary arts. Exploring the catalytic relationship between visual imagery and text, CAM invited fourteen Wilmington-area writers to compose new work inspired by these selections. This juxtaposition of visual with word illuminates how artists communicate their experiences, perspectives and world views through their chosen medium.
This exhibition recognizes these creators by the quality of their work. However, their gender and societal mores within the time they lived shaped their identity as artists, their work and the interpretation of it. By acknowledging and questioning these effects, this exhibition hopes to highlight the many contributions, past and present, of women in the visual and literary arts.
Writers participating in this exhibition include: Anna Lena Phillips Bell; Karen E. Bender; Wendy Brenner; May-lee Chai; Cara Cilano; Amrita Das; Nina de Gramont; Dina Greenberg; Celia Rivenbark; Gwenyfar Rohler; Emily Louise Smith; Bertha Boynkin Todd; Kelly Rae Williams; and Margo Williams.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by Corning
Select Works From the Exhibition
From extensive travel by road and by air, Virginia Wright-Frierson (American, b. 1949) has created over one hundred paintings framing scenes, as if looking through a window, across the United States and Canada. She describes her intent, “We do see pollution and trash, factories, car accidents and roadwork, graffiti even on cactus and near petroglyphs, and much of North America is prairie that seems empty and unchanging for miles on end. But what I want to paint is the power of nature evidenced in storms, erosion, rock formations, and water; the adaptation of plants and animals to any environment, from the high mountains and glacial lakes of Banff, Alberta to the deserts of Arizona, the unspoiled vastness and endless variation, and the spirit and celebration of survival."
Wright-Frierson’s broad-ranging career is distinguished as painter, award-winning children’s book author, illustrator, and large-scale public installation artist to include her celebrated bottle house inspired by artist Minnie Evans at Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, NC, and her extraordinary ceiling mural of evergreens and aspens reaching for the sunlight, installed at Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado.
Cameron Art Museum wishes to thank Philip Gerard, Professor in UNCW’s Department of Creative Writing, for his essay included in the exhibition brochure.
Select Works From the Exhibition
Stroll through the ART PARK with sculptures by Charlie Brouwer, Mel Chin and Dixon Stetler located throughout.
Take an up close look at Cameron Art Museum's newest arrival, a whirly-gig by Vollis Simpson.
Visit the CIVIL WAR ENTRENCHMENT on the Civil War grounds. A NC Civil War Trails historical marker identifies the location of the “Forks Road Engagement” the site of the Confederate Army’s hold off of the Union troop’s advance on Wilmington from Fort Fisher for 3 days starting on February 20, 1865.
Enjoy a stroll along the pond and through the NATURE TRAILS located on the 9.3 acres of the museum campus. The trail winds its way from the museum front door north to our historic woodlands. On the trail you will observe native plant and animal life. Also walk along the FRUIT GROVE newly planted in 2011 in honor of Paul W. Phillips, CAM’s Senior Security Guard. The orchard contains white and black muscadine grapes, peach, pear, fig, apple, plum and blueberry plantings.
Walk FEDERAL POINT ROAD SECTION one of the few remaining sections of the primary thoroughfare between Wilmington and Fort Fisher in the 1860s.
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