Ambleside Gallery’s Pastel Exhibition

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Jamie Biggs
  Staff Writer

            I don’t like big parties. I don’t like listening to people and music compete with one another to be heard. There is a part of me that can appreciate it — that can sit back and people-watch and experience something akin to a good time in these situations. However, I’ve always recognized that kind of atmosphere and setting isn’t typically my idea of an ideal Friday night.

            But still, I have a desire to go out on the weekends, just as much of the world does after a Monday to Friday filled with school, or work or other potentially exhausting weekly to-dos. “Where to?” is the question I usually find myself asking whenever the time rolls around.

            I’ve become accustomed to most of the alternatives to parties that exist. They’re mindless activities for the most part — movies, slightly more expensive dinners, too-long visits to Starbucks. I can still enjoy these nights, don’t get me wrong, but occasionally I want for a Friday night that’s a bit more unique, that requires or encourages me to wear something nicer than jeans.

            With this in mind, I went to the opening reception of a pastel exhibition at an art gallery on Friday, Feb 3.

            My friend and I had wandered into Ambleside Gallery a week before to find the previous exhibit coming to a close, but gallery owner Jackson Mayshark encouraged us to return the following week to see what an opening of an exhibition looked like in comparison to the close of one. He set the scene for us —live classical music, wine and finger foods, a collection of artwork composed of pastels on display. Some of the artists would even be present.

            I wasn’t sure if the scene he described was my scene either. I like art, but I like it in the same way that I like a lot of things— with minimal knowledge and an elementary understanding. Did I really have any right to position myself in a room full of people who likely found the idea of an art exhibition opening much more serious than I did?

            I decided yes. I rounded up three friends, I put on a dress and went into downtown Greensboro, where Ambleside Gallery is located.

            Mayshark had detailed the scene accurately the week prior. The minute we walked in we were greeted by a spread of food and drinks, as well as live piano playing in the background from a few rooms over. I immediately recognized that the crowd of people there probably weren’t what I would consider “my crowd.” For the most part, it was adults. I realize that at twenty-years-old I am an adult, but the majority of people present were undoubtedly more experienced in the art of being an adult than me. Still, throughout the night, I noticed a few younger individuals and couples flitting throughout the gallery. All were welcome.

            Looking at the art itself was worth any doubt I had felt about being welcome or fitting in. The previous week, I had encountered the remains of a watercolor exhibition, but now the gallery was filled with pastels. While I can’t stand in front of a piece of art and debate with someone about style or technique without sounding foolish, I can appreciate and try to articulate why I like a piece. I found myself drawn to many of the animal and nature pastels as I walked from room-to-room, taking time to stop and observe each work hanging on the walls.

            Some of the most remarkable pieces of art that Ambleside has, in my opinion, are a collection of clay pots that contain a missing piece—a cutaway—that allows you to view the interior of the pots. Inside, an artist has carved out ancient scenes and landscapes that are intricate and impossibly detailed. At the exhibition, a man sat in a chair with a smaller version of one of these pots in his hands, carving out a new scene on the inside.

            The North Carolina Pastel Society’s Winter exhibition at Ambleside will remain available for viewing at the gallery until March 4. I encourage those who are looking for a change of pace to spend an afternoon or evening at the gallery.

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