NEW SEMANTICS GALLERY

RURAL AVANT GARDE: THE MOUNTAIN LAKE EXPERIENCE

October 18, 2020 - January 3, 2021


Gallery Sponsors: Hunt and Donna Bonan
Exhibit Sponsor: Cynthia Jones, Financial Advisor
Gallery Admission: Free

Members' Preview | Saturday, October 17 | 5:00 - 7:00 pm
Preview Admission for Members is Free | Guests - $5 Admission

ABOUT THE EXHIBIT:
This exhibition features 20 art works by eight contemporary artists who participated in a series of workshops in rural Virginia, hence the name “Rural Avant Garde.” In the late 19th and early 20th century, some contemporary artists would be nicknamed “the avant garde” for their adventurous and risk-taking art.

Two key artists comprise this grouping, John Cage and Howard Finster. This exhibit may be the largest showing of works (eleven) by Howard Finster at Cedarhurst. John Cage is a true giant of 20th century Modern Art. Music composer and visual artist, Cage was an inspiration to many for his way of living, always appearing cheerful, and unafraid to take aesthetic risks.

Howard Finster became an amazing phenomenon during the 1980s when alternative rock bands Talking Heads and REM first put Finster’s artwork on their album covers. These musicians regarded Finster as authentic. A self-taught artist, Finster used his art to share his evangelical faith.

The Mountain Lake Workshop began with a series of conferences in 1980 organized by Virginia Tech art professor Ray Kass and art historian Howard Risatti of Virginia Commonwealth University. The conferences were held at the rural retreat center at Mountain Lake in the Appalachian region of Virginia.

Workshops explored the “why” and “how” of art. Experts from computer science, physics, biology, and the social sciences worked with visiting artists and the community to make new artworks and explore new research initiatives. Participants were encouraged to take risks and experiment with indeterminacy, a term used by composer and artist John Cage to describe a reliance on chance and a trust in multiple possible results instead of careful planning with pre-determined outcomes.

Working together in an environment where contributors felt free to explore, question, and try new techniques, the participants of the Mountain Lake Workshop attempt to redefine art and its processes with an approach that suggests that any community could develop its own high art by overcoming the restrictions that emerge whenever art becomes only a commodity. 

This exhibition was organized by the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts at Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia.

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