Curated by elin o’Hara slavick and Laura Sharp Wilson
Lump Gallery
Through April 26

Artists elin o’Hara slavick and Laura Sharp Wilson have an ongoing collaboration in which they co-author artworks that explore and celebrate notions of the heroic. The pair also intriguingly further the idea by branching out into curatorial territory, bringing together other works that share this ambition and exhibiting them when the opportunity arises.

Such is the case with the exhibition Heroes that the pair organized for Lump Gallery. This is art that celebrates the heroicwhether it is grandiose and public, or intimate, mundane and possibly neglected. Perhaps unavoidably, there are certain strains that emerge: works that focus on the commemorative by recalling some fascination with a mythic figure from the artist’s psyche (Joni Mitchell and Frida Kahlo make appearances, for instance), and the social realm is exquisitely depicted in Tammy Rae Carland’s “Covered Wagon, Rootworks, Oregon,” a photograph that depicts a rugged feminist land community outhouse.

There are also a few war protest pieces, such as Robert Shetterly’s large acrylic portrait, “Stan Goff,” which slyly unites the age-old artistic tradition of dignified portraiture with an underlying current of social activism (Goff is a former career soldier who is now a Raleigh-based writer on military and political issues; he has contributed to the Independent). Art historical nods are also present, such as Leah Bailis’ “Corner (for Gordon Matta Clark)” and Nestor Gil’s “LK” with its free stash of monogrammed pencils available for gallery-goers to take home (a la Felix Gonzalez-Torres). A large number of works in the show deal with recollection and connection to beliefs rooted in and nurtured by the family.

While a few campy works do hobble the show (does any viewer really need a portrait from The Bourne Identity to validate their idea of heroism?), the wide variety and breadth of how artists tackle the theme as presented shows there is much to continue to explore here, probably as far and wide as slavick and Wilson are willing to venture.

Lump Gallery is open Saturdays from noon-5 p.m. and by appointment.

Landscape Details
By Sarah Powers
Through April 26

One of the more easily overlooked spaces in Raleigh has a small but intriguing show worth seeing this month. I like to think its theme could be “reduction by addition.” Sarah Powers’ paintings now on view in Artspace’s front lobby demonstrate her perfected multilayered method and a technique that imparts true gusto. Powers starts with a collage image and then, through repeated additions of glazes and color, she blurs, obscures and coaxes her initial image until finally arriving at a composition that is a gloriously pared-down semblance of its initial self.

The 10 canvases on view here possess a minimal paletteoften just two colorsand this chromatic simplicity serves to amplify the artist’s compositional explorations. Urban imagery predominates: We see birds perched on downtown parapets, stoplights and light poles; cranes and partial building skylines. These city tableaus are shown on wrinkly, highly textured surfaces that expose Powers’ methodical technique.

While some works, like “Yellow Birds,” border on almost pure painted abstraction, others, including “Red Tree with Color Swatches,” explore color and composition in a fundamental, solid collage vocabulary. Small push pins affix rectangular color swatches to the latter work, and they hover delicately just above the painting’s surface. Their interaction with the impastoed surface of the canvas seems an apt metaphor for these meticulous works that continually balance and dance back and forth between adroit composition and deft paint handling.

Artspace is open to the public Tuesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.