Younger generation breeding area buzz
Special to The Commercial Appeal
While you are thrilling to the Lichtenstein and Lucite shows at the Dixon, don’t overlook the side exhibit in the Mallory and Wurtzburger wing galleries.
Titled “Voices of a New South,” the collection of two dozen pieces by four contemporary African-American artists from Memphis is as eye-popping in its own way as the main event. Running through Nov. 29, the show spotlights a younger generation of local talent making their mark: Anthony D. Lee, siblings Terry and Jerry Lynn, who paint collectively as Twin, Kiersten Williams and N.J. Woods.
Dixon curatorial assistant Julie Pierotti says it is important that such artists, who usually don’t get to show in a museum setting, connect on that level with art lovers.
“Our visitors have been eating this up,” she says. “A lot of the people that come here aren’t necessarily going to some of the art galleries around town. (So) for them to see something like this is good.”
Dixon director Kevin Sharp adds that it has been the museum’s commitment to showcase contemporary/regional art since he came on board, and the adjunct gallery wings have served that purpose well.
“It’s not a lot of space but it is meaningful space,” he says. “We thought it was important too that it be regional artists. I’ve been very impressed by the vitality of the arts community in Memphis from day one of my arrival, and I just wanted to celebrate it a little bit.”
The selected works in “Voices of a New South” are a visually eclectic bunch, from the “emotional vignettes” of Lee and the self-taught memory motifs of Woods to the near-cinematic scenes conjured by Twin. Yet as a group show, the artists share an overriding sense of history — reflections on the South and on their respective childhoods and family stories — as well as an explosive use of color that speaks to the engaging, life-affirming role art plays in African-American culture.
Williams, the only Memphian to have been selected for the touring exhibit “I Have a Dream: An International Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”— currently at the National Civil Rights Museum — strikes the right balance, for example, between self-reflection and outward commentary in such works as “Finding Myself,” which would have made a great alternate title for the Dixon show.
Each artist here is busy finding themselves, and we as art viewers are the lucky recipients of their search.
Anthony D. Lee’s ‘‘Mama's Boy’’ joins works by three other rising African-American artists from Memphis.