Edie Carpenter lets out a contented sigh on the other end of the phone.
The Greenhill Center for NC Art is a 7,000-square foot studio with blondpaneled floors and dove-white walls on Davie Street in Greensboro. For the past 30 years, the gallery has been a leading showcase for contemporary art completed in North Carolina, or by the hand of an artist that’s studied, taught or lived in the Old North State.
The Winter Show lasts seven weeks. In its original form, it had a small list of artists whose work was rotated on the floor. About nine years ago, they went in a completely different direction, filling their space with 130-150 different artists without explicitly rejecting any medium. Carpenter, Greenhill’s curator, explained that the only steadfast rule is that each piece must be available for sale. That results in few installation pieces, especially of the landscape variety, but they boast a collection of glass, copper, wood, iron, fabrics, paintings and portraits done with oil or charcoal, unique pottery and detailed photography.
“It’s a big effort,” Carpenter says of the year-long effort to put together each Winter Show. “The search for the Winter Show keeps Greenhill up to date. We’re staying in touch with contemporary art as it changes.”
Abstract paintings made up of bold, black bends and brushstrokes sit in a frame on the wall that greets visitors. Claudia Schmitz-Esser’s “Woodcut Print on Paper III,” a 2012 piece, along with “Woodcut Print on Paper II” of the same year came courtesy of the Eno Gallery. Carpenter explains that individual artists sometimes have contractual relationships, in which case the gallery that officially represents the artist will be listed with their work in third party exhibits such as at Greenhill.
In a far right corner of the studio, they’ve erected a large statue made of ceramic and steel. A seemingly healthy, galloping horse stands surrounded by window panes, glowing in the natural light of the sunny afternoon. On closer examination, I first notice there’s no mane. More jarring is that the front right leg is broken and bent, while the front left is missing altogether. The artist is Susannah Zucker and the title of the piece is “Cycle #2,” 2012. The initial majesty of the horse, followed quickly by the disturbing details, make it the most mesmerizing part of the exhibit for me.
Elaborating on the extensive work required to put the show together, Carpenter describes what can only amount to the effort of a small army being completed by the hands of a few dedicated employees and volunteers. Co-curator Dana Moore selected the collection of fine craft art for this year’s show, and the installation took place with the help of Rebecca Flagg, Michelle Lanteri and Jack Stratton.
“Sometimes I make suggestions,” Carpenter says of her work researching each year to put the Winter Show together, “but the artists pick from their collection for the show.”
Allowing the artist some license in their contribution to the exhibit creates the massively eclectic display of art from around the state that Greenhill has perfected. Carolyn DeBerry’s photography — the slightly blurred, golden locks of a child spinning in the sun, or the relaxed feet of someone reading Sam Abell: The Photographic Life on their balcony at the North Carolina coast — is a warm glimpse in to the landscape that makes up the artist’s life, while the approximately six foot wooden vase titled “Tuliptree,” a 2011 work by Anatoly Tsiris, is an impressive display of craftsmanship.
Greenhill Center for NC Art is a non-profit art gallery. Artists whose pieces sell during the Winter Show will take a 50/50 commission split, and the proceeds support the gallery’s programs throughout the following year. One could argue that Carpenter is almost too good at her job investigating for new artwork — this year’s Winter Show displayed 500 different pieces, leaving only the floor space required for walking through the exhibit.
“We have so much room, and each year, we can bring so many different artists together,” Carpenter says, summarizes the headache and gratification of putting together the massive show.
The Winter Show runs through Jan. 12. Greenhill is located at 200 N. Davie St. in Greensboro. For more information, call 336.333.7460 or visit greenhillnc.org.