The “Winter Wonders" exhibit at the 5 Points Gallery is tenuously wintry and absolutely wonderful

This month, 5 Points Gallery in downtown Durham invites viewers to their “Winter Wonders: Gallery Members” exhibit. Through a carefully crafted mix of works both old and new, the exhibit shines a fresh light on the diversity of nine local artists both in perspective and medium. 

Though the title may evoke connotations of a wintry ‘wonderland’, the hibernal aspect of the theme was mild—an apt reflection of the winters of Durham. “We were thinking about what ‘wonderful’ art we were creating in the winter,” wrote Teddy Devereux, one of the artists featured in the gallery, in an email.  “In my experience, most of our visitors are more interested in seeing new art each month than whether the art meets the theme,” she wrote.

Immediately upon entering the gallery, the varied artistic styles become evident. “We are lucky to have a very diverse and compatible group of artists who work in diverse media and styles,” Devereux said. 

Indeed, the eclectic mix of art holds a mirror to the heterogeneity of Durham. “[Y]ou would never know what kind of people walk in here and enjoy our art. And as an artist that’s a really, really sweet thing that we can experience here,” said Yuko Nogami Taylor, another artist at 5 Points Gallery.

The following is a selection of some particularly “wonderful” pieces from the current exhibit. 

Eno River on My Mind” by Jenny Blazing

Photo by Ali Thursland

Employing a muted color palette of white, yellow, brown and blue, Jenny Blazing’s “Eno River on My Mind” evokes the abstract image of a body of water twisting along a snowy riverbank. Her use of texture makes the frigidity even more palpable, while her organic brushstrokes and form offer the suggestion of life in spite of aridity. 

Blazing’s acrylic and collage paintings emphasize the ephemeral beauty of nature, combining depictions of natural scenes with distinctive and imaginative twists. Her current signature technique, called artistic propagation, incorporates archival images of her finished works into her new creations. 

“Glacial Melt” by Teddy Devereux

Photo by Ali Thursland

Inspired by a trip to Iceland last fall, the simplistic nature of Devereux’s “Glacial Melt” belies the labor demanded by the fused glass art form—making it all the more impressive. When one thinks of ice, it is the color white, not black, that typically comes to mind. However, as Icelandic glaciers are increasingly impacted by climate change, the melting ice reveals long-forgotten volcanic ash trapped within. “So, the areas at the tongues of the glaciers are mostly black,” Devereux wrote.  

A retired scientist, fused glass artist Teddy Devereux cites a lifetime of observing biological patterns and nature as the inspiration for her work. She is energized by the processes and experimentation demanded by glass art. In recent years, she has sought to use her artwork as a platform to raise awareness about climate change.

“Winter Sunset” by Teddy Devereux

Photo by Ali Thursland

Another piece by Devereux, the ornate “Winter Sunset” adds dimension to a winter scene that many might find familiar. Blending fused glass with an archival photo taken late last fall in New York City across the Hudson River, this piece is a testament to Devereux’s love for experimentation. It’s difficult to fight the urge to feel the glass-adorned rocky shore. 

“Rabbit II” by Yuko Nogami Taylor

In celebration of the Lunar New Year, this piece felt like a breath of fresh air. Yuko Nogami Taylor employs Japanese mineral painting—a signature technique of hers—to depict a delightfully red rabbit poised to jump and gazing longingly up towards a silver moon. The blend of yellows and greens in the background, combined with the bunches of flowers flecked across the canvas, suggest that spring is just around the corner. 

Born and raised in Japan, Yuko Nogami Taylor blends Japanese historical painting techniques with Southeastern United States influences. The meticulousness of her medium is meditative for both artist and viewer. 

For three and a half years, 5 Points Gallery has brought contemporary artwork to downtown Durham. Formerly the Pleiades Gallery, today 5 Points is a gallery co-operated by nine artists. Each artist pays rent and works shifts in the gallery in exchange for displaying and selling their art on premises. Every member has a say in decisions impacting the gallery, including the themes of their rotating exhibits.5 Points Gallery also features particular member artists in the exhibit for certain months, in order to increase exposure or draw attention to new creations.

Co-ops like 5 Points Gallery can help mitigate the financial burdens of creative practice and provide artists with greater autonomy in choosing what artworks to produce and display. As resident artist Yuko Taylor points out, “...[W]e can bring [in] any work that we think is successful for us as artists; it’s not controlled by the sales. So you can see they’re honest artworks here.”

5 Points Gallery is located in downtown Durham at 109 E Chapel Hill St. It is open Thursdays 4-8 p.m, Fridays 5-9 p.m., and Saturdays 1-9 p.m. "Winter Wonders" runs through Feb. 11.  


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