Cress Gallery Hosts Fearless And Resilient Exhibit

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cress Gallery of Art at UTC, in partnership with Chattanooga’s AIM Center, Inc., will present fearless and resilient featuring works by Ken Grimes, Laura Craig McNellis, and Dan Miller. 

In Gallery II will also be a curated selection of works created by the emerging artists of the AIM Center, Inc., Arts Program. 

There will be a special lecture by Roger Ricco on Thursday, Nov. 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Derthick Hall, Room 201, 624 Vine St.  Gallerist, artist, and author, Mr. Ricco will discuss his research and experiences with Mr. Grimes, Ms. McNellis, Mr. Miller, and other remarkable artists with disabilities. 

An opening reception follows at the Cress in the lobby of the Fine Arts Center, 752 Vine St. 

Shuttle service will be available between UTC Fine Art Center and Derthick Hall; ADA accessible. Suggested parking for the lecture and opening reception is in Lot #10, at 5th and Palmetto Street. Parking is free daily after 5 p.m. in any UTC Lot not marked “24 hour reserved”. 

The exhibition dates are Nov. 16-Dec. 10.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. The Cress and all its public events are open to the public. Admission is free. 

Review for the exhibit:

The adjectives employed to title this exhibition “fearless” and “resilient” refer to traits any artist should cultivate to survive. Yet for this group of artists, their “fearlessness” of making in the face of disadvantage, and their “resilience” to overcome adversity and strongly continue, is both remarkable and inspirational. All three fall into the realm of Outsider Art, yet each is equally and fully accepted into the Contemporary mainstream. 

Ken Grimes (b. 1947, New York City) has spent nearly five decades studying his obsession with crop circles, UFO’s, alien abductions, the aranormal, and his own experiences with synchronicity and cosmic coincidence. This led him to investigate SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and Project Ozma, a 1960’s initiative that searched for electromagnetic transmissions from civilizations in far off galaxies, specifically Epsilon Eridani, a close star to earth. Mr. Grimes’ research ranges from newspaper and magazine articles to the writings of astrophysicists and astro-astronomers such as Carl Sagan and Frank D. Drake. Mr. Grimes feels that painting connects with a wider audience, yet has increasingly incorporated pure text into his work. He limits his palette to black and white, symbolic of deception and truth, providing a contrast that Mr. Grimes feels necessary to communicate directly. Mr. Grimes’ diagrammatic images and block letter texts simultaneously project both ironic humor and compelling visionary thought about the enduring mysteries of the cosmos.

Mr. Grimes was one of 30 artists included in the American Folk Art Museum’s “Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century”, and his work is in the collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and other public and private collections world-wide. In recent years, Mr. Grimes has been a resident at Fellowship Place in New Haven, CT., a mental health and living facility that encourages intuitive artistic creativity. His work appears in the Cress courtesy of Ricco Maresca Gallery, NYC. Mr. Grimes is schizophrenic. 

Laura Craig McNellis (b. 1957, Nashville, TN.) has been painting since childhood, at first at night, while her two sisters and family slept, on scrap newsprint her father brought home from the postal facility where he worked. Her choice of subjects, those common objects of life, dinners and birthday cakes, and the architectural spaces around her, communicate and document her own unique vision of the world. Using ordinary materials (scissors, watercolor, and tempera paint), her work has undeniably progressed through stylistic phases, as she responded and mentally processed her experiences into visual form. The primacy of color, the attention to detail in quick renderings, and the employment of unique pictorial devices and symbols, demonstrate her intent. This exhibition in the Cress will provide a survey of the development of her work over time. Ms. McNellis’s work is included in public and private collections worldwide, and appears in the Cress courtesy of Ricco Maresca Gallery, NYC, and the Trust of Laura Craig McNellis, Mooresville, NC. Ms. McNellis is developmentally disabled and autistic.

Dan Miller (b. 1961, Castro Valley, CA.) is described by his sister as always drawing if paper and pen were available. Since 1982, Mr. Miller has worked with the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, CA., a pioneering institution whose mission is to foster the aesthetic development of people with disabilities in the visual arts, emphasizing the quality of the work rather than the disability. Miller employs pencil, pen, paint sticks, and pastels to develop compositions of intense layers of marks, letterforms, and diagrammatic representations of simple objects, creating a captivating, rhythmic pictorial space. Mr. Miller’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Ricco Maresca Gallery and White Columns, NYC, and Galerie Christian Berst, Paris, and at Frieze New York, the Armory Show, NYC, and NADA, Miami. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC, and is currently featured at Viva Arte Viva, the 57th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale. Mr. Miller is autistic. 

Roger Ricco is a gallerist, artist, and author, and co-founder of Ricco Maresca Gallery, NYC. Mr. Ricco was UTC Diane Marek Visiting Artist in 2006 (the first year of the Series) along with an exhibition of his photography “Small Events”. At the time, Mr. Ricco visited the AIM Center and the early manifestation of its visual arts program. He visited Chattanooga again in 2009 to support the AIM Center’s arts initiative and has continued to be available informally as a consultant. Mr. Ricco’s extensive research on “outsider” artists, and artists with autism and other disabilities has resulted
in his authoring and co-authoring numerous books on these subjects. A dynamic speaker, Mr. Ricco’s personal experience with the artists in this exhibition, and with others he has followed and supported, provide an amazing and captivating commentary about the springs of creativity. 

Gallery II of the Cress will feature an exhibition of works by the emerging Artists of Chattanooga’s Aim Center’s Arts Program curated by Mr. Ricco. The 12 featured artists are Anita Bright, Jesse
Crick, Ruby Ford, Shariece Hayes, David Hudson, Consuella Jackson, Rodrick McGee, Miriam Prepodnik, Bill Sera, Michael Tyous, Robert Waters, and Demetrius Witherow. 

The AIM Center provides education, employment, housing, wellness, and socialization opportunities for adults in recovery from serious mental illness. Since 1989, the Aim Center has helped adults be self-advocates for their mental wellness. Standing for Achievement, Independence, and Motivation, AIM Center is a non-profit mental health program with a Clubhouse approach that empowers individuals to reclaim their independence while successfully managing their mental illness to lead full and productive lives. 

The Cress Gallery of Art is in the lobby of the UTC Fine Arts Center, 752 Vine Street at the corner of Vine and Palmetto Streets. 

If you require accommodations for this event, please contact the UTC Disability Resource Center at (423) 425-4006, email Michelle-Rigler@utc.edu a week prior to the event if possible. 

For more information about the exhibition and the Diane Marek Series community and campus events, visit www.cressgallery.org, like the Cress Gallery on Facebook, or contact Ruth Grover at ruthgrover@utc.edu  or 304-9789.


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