Downtown Greensboro is full of great things to do — there’s a slew of museums, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and tattoo parlors that allow for a very fun-filled weekend. But one central part of downtown that holds a close spot to my childhood is the Greensboro Cultural Center. Just a block away from the newly constructed LeBauer Park, the Greensboro Cultural Center offers classes, exhibits and performances.
Inside of the Greensboro Cultural Center is the Greenhill Center for NC Art, which has always dedicated itself to promoting the work of North Carolinian visual artists. This week they held an annual event that promotes the works of teachers and students at the Greensboro Cultural Center called “INFLUENCE.”
Beyond the Greenhill Center’s exhibit-shop lies a very beautiful gallery that is pertinent to UNCG’s Alumni and history. Titled “The Edge of Perception,” the gallery features around 150 works from artist Richard Fennell.
Before becoming an important figure in North Carolina’s visual arts history, Fennell was a student who was taught and mentored by Peter Augustini.Richard completed both his BFA and MFA at UNCG, and also became a part-time instructor at UNCG in the 1980’s. Richard Fennell’s artistic vision encompases a variety of styles, beginning with sculpture which he originally studied while earning his BFA.
Several sculptures on display depict the female body in a multitude of poses that present a range of motion hard to accomplish with something as lifeless as a sculpture.
His paintings feature a very vibrant color palette and tend to depict still life with an emphasis on sites that have historical significance to Guilford County, or that Fennell has a personal connection with. He brings life to inanimate objects and scenes through his choice of color palette. A few pieces that really show the significance of how his color palette’s ability to bring to make portraits feel alive are “Highway, Gibbonsville,” “Townscape III” and “Interior With Stairway.”
“Highway” and “Townscape III” feature warm hues that capture local landmarks and cityscapes in the light of North Carolina’s beautiful sunsets but especially at the Golden Hour – a feat that can even be difficult for a photographer. Fennell’s work has also helped him become one of the most accomplished and well received artist’s in North Carolina leading to him winning a long list of awards for his work.
Fennell is the recipient of the 1977 Purchase Award at the NC Artist Competition, the 1980 and 1982 Purchase Award at Miller Brewery Competition. He’s also no stranger to the Green Hill Center, where he was featured in their annual Winter Show from 1980 to 2005. But Fennell’s love for the preservation of local history and culture goes beyond his art work. His love for rural North Carolina townships has aided him in becoming involved with local politics.
He has had a lengthy political career as a council member and elected Mayor of Whitsett, North Carolina since 2003. He went into office aiming to bring clean water and sewage to the people of Whitsett, many of whom have bad wells due to petroleum contamination. After a long fight, Fennell was successful in providing the town of Whitsett with its first ever public water service in 2012.
“The Edge of Perception” will be showcased until Aug. 20, 2017 at the Greenhill Center for NC Art. Admission is free, but donations are suggested to help keep the showcasing of North Carolina art. If you are interested in seeing or speaking to Richard Fennell in person, he will be conducting a painting demonstration and artist talk on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 6:00 p.m.