WILSON, N.C. — Barton Art Galleries is pleased to announce the opening of two photography exhibitions on Sunday, Oct. 26, from 2 – 4 p.m. Early and recent work by acclaimed photographer Burk Uzzle will be in the Virginia Thompson Graves Gallery and a selection of work from three photographers from Eastern North Carolina featuring images and artifacts dating from the 1920’s to 1970’s will be on view in the Lula E. Rackley Gallery.
Uzzle portrays a unique blend of American sensibility, themes, and values through his photography. His images are sometimes quirky, sometimes humorous, and always respectful of the people or places he has observed. Many images in the exhibition are large-scale color photographs of places found on country roads and other venues off the beaten path.
“Uzzle’s wonderful sense of color rests on a fine line between the visual balance of his composition and the delicate, sometimes bizarre social order of the places he depicts,” said Gerard Lange, director of exhibitions at Barton.
Also on view in Uzzle’s exhibition, is a selection of black and white prints taken at Woodstock in 1969. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition,” the music festival was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in the rural town on Bethel, N.Y. The festival exemplified the 1960’s and 70’s counterculture, the hippie era, and hosted 32 of the best-known musicians of the time who performed for almost 500,000 attendees.
Placed under contract at the age of 23, Uzzle was the youngest photographer hired by “Life” magazine. He later ventured into a 15-year membership in Magnum Photos, the international photographers co-operative, where he served for two years as its president before leaving in 1983. Uzzle is represented exclusively by the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York, and his work is included in many museum and private collections worldwide.
The concurrent photography exhibition “Images of 20th Century North Carolina” pays homage to photography during the mid 20th century. A portion of the exhibition has been devoted to the photography of Bayard Wootten who chose a pictorial style for her work. Her images include beautiful gardens and splendid landscapes, but her greatest accomplishment was the recording of both black and white Americans of the working class. While Wootten’s photographs recall a forgotten time and culture, they retain a freshness and vitality for viewers today. The Bayard Wootten Collection is on loan from the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Born in New Bern, Wootten first pursued drawing and painting as a cottage industry and is credited with the original Pepsi-Cola logo. Around 1904, the possibility of photographic orders replacing labor-intensive artwork steered her to cameras. Wootten identified with the pictorialist style, despite its decline in popularity after 1910. Stylistically, her photographs recall the Farm Securities Administration images from the Great Depression, and often resemble the work of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange.
Managing to overcome obstacles typical for her gender, Wootten eventually attained national recognition. Her first studio was in a small building beside the family home in New Bern, but over the course of her career, Wootten worked in several other locations in North Carolina and also briefly operated a studio in New York City.
At one point in her career, Wootten employed a Wilson native by the name of Charles Raines. Born in 1919, Raines attended Randolph Macon Military Academy and Atlantic Christian College. He later opened his own photography studio in 1947 with another Wilsonian, Guy Cox.
Throughout their career, the two men photographed nearly every facet of Wilson life from weddings, to schools, to street corners, to the tobacco industry. They also captured images of famous visitors to Wilson such as Lady Bird Johnson, President Jimmy Carter and Andy Griffith. In a “Wilson Daily Times” article in 1993, the studio was quoted as having shot more than 39,000 studio portraits. Raines passed away in 2001, but at age 86 Guy Cox is still enjoying his work. He is keeping up with the digital age of photography through weekly classes at Wilson Community College.
The exhibition pays homage to the photography of Raines and Cox, and to the historical record they captured on film and have housed for years in their studio on Nash Street. On view in the Rackley Gallery will be a selection of photographs from the 1950’s as well as studio portraits from the 1960’s and 70’s. Also included in the exhibition will be numerous artifacts collected over the 60-year career in photography: studio equipment, cameras, and negatives. The exhibition also will include a partial reproduction of their darkroom.
The “Burk Uzzle: Photographs” and “Images of 20th Century North Carolina” exhibitions will run through Wednesday, Dec.10. A private dinner and lecture for the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts, featuring photographer Burk Uzzle, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 6 – 8 p.m. This event is open only to members. For membership information, please call Caroline Hart, assistant vice president for institutional advancement, at 252-399-6533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Jerry Cotten will lecture on photographer Bayard Wootten’s work on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. This event is free of charge and open to the public. Keith Barnes, photojournalist for “The Wilson Daily Times,” will present a talk on Guy Cox and the Raines & Cox Photography Studio on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. This event is also free of charge and open to the public.
Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the exception of holidays. For additional information, please contact Gerard Lange, director of exhibitions, at 252-399-6475 or email email@example.com.
Questions? Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.