Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's next book, "Oh, Didn't They Ramble: Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music," was published in the fall of 2023 by University of North Carolina Press. His podcast, Carolina Calling, explores the history of the Tar Heel State through music.



The Raleigh Film and Art Festival puts on different multi-media events beyond its big annual fall shindig every October, a top film festival on the Southeastern U.S. circuit. One of the organization’s spinoff events is Living In Color, a visual arts exhibit that returns for its second edition during Black History Month 2024 at the Greg Poole, Jr. All Faiths Chapel at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh this month.

Featuring paintings by about two-dozen artists from across the Carolinas, the exhibit has a broad range of subject matter in a wide array of works, depicting everything from childhood landmarks to inspirational cultural figures—Prince, Louis Armstrong and Tupac Shakur among them.

The genesis of the show emerged from Raleigh Film and Art Festival organizers traveling the state to support different galleries, shows and art events across North Carolina.

 

“In networking with people, we built up a database and curated from there,” says Christopher Moore, founding president and executive director of the Raleigh Film and Art Festival. “Some we invited, and some came from putting out a call for artists to apply. We have a wide variety—high school and college students, young professionals, award-winning artists whose work is in museums. You may not see a Tupac piece in certain galleries, but it tells a story.”

Living In Color commences with an opening reception at the Chapel on Saturday, Feb. 3 (update: sold out), which will feature dance, music and spoken-word performances. There will also be a Feb. 17 artists’ talk at the Chapel, with artists discussing their work. Some of the works are available for purchase.

After the opening, the works will remain available for viewing during the Chapel’s regular hours through Feb. 26. All events are free to attend.

 

“The reception from the community last year was mind-blowing,” says Malkah Bell, director of programming and operations for the Raleigh Film and Art Festival. “The artists appreciated it, too. There are a range of skill levels, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to connect. It’s very unique and needed.”

As far as subjects, the works in the show don’t really have a unifying theme or throughline beyond the overall demographic concept.

“We wanted this event to open up a way to celebrate artists of color living in the South,” says Moore. “There’s not just one particular theme. We wanted artists to capture their own expressions, the essence of creativity of their experiences. It’s our way of giving artists who are sometimes underserved or underrepresented an amazing platform, an opportunity to connect. They can also meet and learn about different phases of their artistic journeys in a welcoming environment.”

Living In Color will be on display through Feb. 26 at the Chapel at Dorothea Dix Park, 1030 Richardson Dr. in Raleigh.

Special events include an opening reception on Sat., Feb. 3 at 2:30pm (sold out); and an artists' talk, 1:30-3:30pm, on Sat., Feb. 17.

The work is available for viewing during the Chapel’s normal hours: 10am-3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am-4pm Saturdays; and noon-5pm on Sundays.

Dorothea Dix Park hosts a wide range of events throughout the year, from yoga to birdwatching to walking tours (and lots more). You can find the park's calendar of event here.

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