Simply Elevate January 2014 - Page 24

These bold characters with exaggerated features are reminiscent of another distinguished artist that hails from the Triangle. Ernie Barnes, born in Durham, NC, is one of the most famous and highly regarded African American painters (and incidentally a NFL football player). Amongst his illustrious career, his work was often featured on the television show Good Times as paintings done by the character JJ. McLaurin, like Barnes, implores the same skill to instill rhythm and patterns to create the illusion of fluidity and movement in stark still paintings. After it was desegregated, upon inquiry, Barnes was told by a docent at our own North Carolina Museum of Art located here in the Capitol that there were no paintings by “Negro artist” because “Your people don’t express themselves that way.” McLaurin says that Barnes helped to “break the art barrier” and it was demonstrated when he was asked back to the museum decades later for a solo exhibition. Perhaps also like Barnes, we will one day see this young artist’s work hanging in the NCMA. Other painters he includes as his favorites are Leonardo da Vinci and Charles White. Drawing inspiration and networking with local artists Shawn Etheridge, Christopher Terrell, and Marwin El Hicheri has spawned multiple art events around town. The goal of these artists is to work towards giving Raleigh a cultural happening every night of the week. They continually work together in coordinating events that combine visual art, comedy, fashion, food, and music. Beginning as an artist merely showing at the PMG, McLaurin now owns management position at the gallery. His new role allows him to find new talent, coordinate art shows for the featured artists, and come up with innovative uses for the space. If you’re looking for somewhere out of the ordinary to throw a party, PMG just might be the place as it is now available for party rentals. He affirms that a major part of the art scene 24 in Raleigh is all to do with First Friday. This monthly celebration finds Glenwood South bustling with individuals, couples, families, and groups of friends. The Carter Building features some 75 artists and an assortment of businesses including both a wine and a record shop. With a calmer version of house music thumping in the background, a laid back atmosphere is created which lends itself perfectly for mingling and networking. The wine tasting next door to PMG helps facilitate the sociality of the evening by providing eight different wines for $3. Even with its 3 different levels, The Carter Building is packed full of a diverse mixture of people inquiring about art, business, jewelry, clothing, and each other. McLaurin views art and culture as a form of relief and release for the human race. Even in times of financial hardships or other crisis this is what he says we “all we have to go back to.” If you do happen to be looking for a little uplifting and venture downtown into his gallery, be prepared to come back. He assures me that every new face that comes comes back again. And again. They never stop, and it is that support that keeps him doing what he does best. To view McLaurin’s art: Instagram - Pinnacle of Black Art Facebook - Keith McLaurin/ Swift Cream Factory Images In person - 14B Glenwood, Pitch Media Gallery Raleigh, NC