Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!

Bain Image Poem

Bainpaint_1_1_1 raw_1_1

treated brown_1_1_1filtered black_1_1_1lit_1_1_1 



Bain Image Poem. copyright 2009  John Dancy-Jones

Bain Water Project

May 12, 2009 Posted by | art, reflection | , , | 1 Comment

Bain Project – Day 1 Photos

Bain Project Opens
Bain Project Opens

  The Bain Project opened on Saturday, May 9, to large crowds and great success.  The traditional tea presented by Triangle Chanoyu was well attended and ably interpreted by a narrator.  Inside, visitors were asked to fill out an entry permit which assigned them to one of the city watersheds.  They were then free to explore unguided throughout the structure.  I will write more about my experiences when the dust settles, but for now, here is a selection of photos. Each will click to enlarge, while hovering gives you the title.

eyehole with magnifying glass

welcome sign_1_1  Bain registration workers_1_1  Watershed mapper_1_1

Watershed Map Day 1
Watershed Map Day 1

tea  staging area_1_1  explaing the alcove_1_1  purification_1_1

Tea Preparation Area
Tea Preparation Area

Jen Coon’s description of tea installation


  viewing alcove display_1_1    tea service_1_1   tea server waits_1_1

Several participants from the crowd were invited to take part in the tea.  The device used for the purification came from the Bain complex.  Recessed green doors served as the alcove, where objects and a carefully selected phrase set the tone for the tea.

lobby staircase_1_1

lobby tool closets_1_1  lobby from above_1_1  bathtub room_1_1

Chlorine Tank and Scale
Chlorine Tank and Scale

apartment_1_1  entangled room_1_1  ballroom_1_1

Porcelain Filter Ball Installation
Porcelain Filter Ball Installation

lower valves with 'ts' marks_1_1  mechanisms with 'ts'_1_1  pumps and valves_1_1

valve room_1_1

bottommost room_1_1  valves_1_1  pump mechanisms_1_1

Painted Balls on Mechanism
Painted Balls on Mechanism

painted balls_1_1

branching sink_1_1  documents and cot_1_1  window decorations_1_1

window light_1_1

fan and paperwork_1_1  media table_1_1  paint chips and windows_1_1

pitcher and paint chips_1_1

top floor entrance_1_1  top floor booth_1_1  top floor view_1_1

Top Floor Cisterns
Top Floor Cisterns
Bain Water Plant Main Hall

Bain Water Plant Main Hall

 The show runs through May 17.  Go check it out!

credits poster_1_1

May 10, 2009 Posted by | architecture, art, Raleigh downtown, Raleigh history | , , , | Leave a comment

Bain Preview Signals Documentary Style

Bain Water Project source materials on display

Bain Water Project source materials on display

The  preview show for The Bain Water Project, which opened at The Morning Times on First Friday, offered some glimpses of what we can hope to see at the full on-site installation in May.  The show also displayed a documentary, self-reflective style which is permeating the group’s work overall, I think in an excellent way.  From the large scale photo and video displays seen at the music event, to the “open access” range of information available on some of the artist’s websites, this massive accretion of work is not least interesting for the shape of the artistic process itself, made visible in the large display of notes, drafts, and source materials on display upstairs on Hargett Street.


  The artists meet most Saturday mornings at the Bain site to collaborate and consult, then spend many more hours creating art work in response to their experiences.  For the preview show, they attempted to evoke a sense of the place, including bringing plants from on site, jars with samples of the debris and filter material, as seen above.  The stripped masonry and ancient brick walls of the upper Morning Times are an ideal setting for the work.


 The range of media and subjects derived from the Bain site remains quite varied, and if I imagine a conventional show of all the finished artworks I have seen, the unifying thread might be hard to describe.  Luke Buchanan Miller’s large traditional paintings have a wonderfully loose sense of perspective and give a successful Impressionist view of an industrial space.  But it can be difficult to shift gears and then find a totally different response in the layered, heavily sealed and almost subliminal images in the tiles by Marty Baird right next to these paintings.  And this show will need to find room for conceptual art, correspondence art, digital graphics, perhaps some kinetic art,  and no doubt some performance art before those weekends in May are over.  The preview show gives some very encouraging signs that the individual art is also being couched in a group effort to re-present, artistically, the Bain space itself, and to evoke the artistic experiences being undergone by the group.  I’m not complaining about the wide diversity of media emerging in the Bain Project.  I think it’s all great.  Seeing the imagery from so many artistic perspectives is intrinsically interesting.  I’m also fascinated to see the project finding ways to exist outside of and between the individual artworks.  One favorite part of this show is where you can see a photo, charcoal sketch, and painting of the same scene.  You really get a feel for the artistic experience.  The catalog pages, technical sheets, and other tatters of beauracracy offer a sense of the human history and the technical complexities of the place.


 The Bain Water Treatment Plant represents a massive subject.  The Art Deco exterior and lobby, the huge myriad of pipes, valves, pumps and holding tanks, and the stark abandoned and long neglected human workspaces, all comprise a complex portrait of early twentieth century Raleigh.  As this group of artists pulsates in rythym, collaborating and privately creating,  I look forward to an amazing show in May.  And I hope the documentary style of the preview show, which illuminates the process-as-product, is a big part of the final event.



my photo album of the Bain site

Raleigh Rambles Bain page

Bain Water Project home page


April 8, 2009 Posted by | architecture, art, Raleigh history | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bain Water Project – Post 1

     One of the most exciting prospects of the coming year for me is following and responding to The Bain Water Project.  The E.B. Bain Water Treatment plant is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark, though it has been neglected for many years. Now a new art project is developing dialogues about the structure and its place in Raleigh’s culture as a new development of the property is planned.


     The top picture is filter rocks made of unpolished porcelain that were used to filter the water at Bain.  Above is the entrance to this art deco masterpiece.  Raleigh’s website states:

While strictly utilitarian in concept, the Bain plant, as built, is perhaps the foremost Art Deco style building in Raleigh.

     The  Bain facility is in a terrible state of debris-filled shambles in the areas used for storage in the 1990’s.  But the industrial plant itself is like a museum.  I had a chance to visit the site when I presented to the project artists about Walnut Creek and the watersheds associated with the plant and Raleigh water history.

     The artists are a wonderful mix of highly qualified individuals who work across a wide spectrum of media.  At the Boylan Artswalk, they displayed some wonderful preliminary work, including prints, paintings, and photographs.  It will be fun to follow this project and I have designated a permanent page about it on Raleigh Rambles.  Check back for more! 


Raleigh Rambles Bain Project Page

January 2, 2009 Posted by | architecture, art, Raleigh history | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Friday recap – downtown Raleigh teems with good art.

Don't Squeal McNeil by Keith Norval

Don't Squeal McNeil by Keith Norval

     Up to date news is not the style of this blog – I am, as Clyde reminds me, part of the Slow Blogging movement.  No matter for this post – EVERY Friday is First Friday this December til Christmas, and you may easily recreate my journey with most of the galleries discussed.

     Starting at Artspace as usual, I stopped by the front gallery to see Keith Norval’s opening of  The Corporate Art Show.  Keith has outdone himself in the wake of his new parenthood, along with the talented Ann Podris.   Keith’s quirky rendering of goofy cartoon images with surprisingly subtle oil color and brushwork may or may not be your favorite style, but you can’t miss these hilarious concoctions of  Angry Squirrel Customer Service, Rhino Dollar Bills, and Pig Salt.

This new series of oil paintings by Keith Norval explores the theme of business and animals. With the current state of things (environmental destruction, factory farming, extinctions) it seems animals would be better off if they had some kind of representation. …this show aims to give them their own voices.  Artspace website

     The blessed couple was upstairs in their gallery, dancing and swaying their little bundle into First Friday submission.  Good luck, guys, and sleep when she does – you’ll need it!



     Down the street at Lump, more caricature and mayhem.  Cannonball Press has a jam packed display, indeed “an irrefutable deluge of relief prints.”  You could walk in here with a hundred bucks and get a lot of gift shopping done, if you have friends who like inyourface graphics.




     Up on Fayetteville Street, in what used to be my Dad’s barber’s basement shop, The Fish Market was showcasing an always widely varied and intriguing selection of work by College of Design students.  Marie Formaro had some wonderful spires of canvas framed with metal, as well as a beautiful screen on canvas called “Ritual of Gesture.”



     Right down Hargett and upstairs is a truly fine gallery in a decidedly unflattering space.  Adam Cave Fine Art stands up well to its claim as a home for national level talent.  The current offerings that reach that level are mostly prints, from the precise yet softly diffused light studies by Donald Furst to the highly textured assemblages of interacting shapes in the woodcuts of Merrill Shatzman.  My favorites prints were the alphabet and symbol studies by John Gall; intaglios with a hint of Bosch and a good dash of Rube Goldberg. 



     While Adam Cave looks and  feels like the former shopkeepers’ living space it is, the funky semi-amateur galleries at the top of Glenwood  are intricate mazes of hopeful artists, all offering wine and cookies and hoping to share their wares.  The Carter Building at 20 Glenwood and Point of View at 22 have a rich mix of artists, most of whom appear to have day jobs.  Make no mistake – there are magnificent high spots in these cramped halls – and lows as well.  I was thrilled to find Ellen Gamble and her abstract oils again after several years.  Peter Filene‘s double exposures (no photoshopping at Point of View!) present well composed and strongly evocative images.  And I’m always happy to have my horizons broadened by strong work in a realm I wouldn’t usually investigate – such as the fashion line drawings of Stephanie Freese, whose retro blackline compositions evoke a blend of the roaring twenties and film noire – and she turns out to be a fascinating comic artist whose online publishing work, pictured below, is revered by writers.


Dada Detective


     I make a late pass back east, heading for home but hoping to catch a couple of more spots. I have amazing luck.  I finally catch up with Nancy Baker, whose Tire Shop Gallery started on McDowell, migrated to Glenwood, and has found a permanent home in the snazzy new building on Morgan across from the Flying Saucer.  Her work, always at such a high technical level, captures scenes from Medici Florence to outer space with equal ease and insight.

     They were ready to close shop at the Longview Center Gallery, which is curated by Rory Parnell from the Collecters Gallery.  I asked the artist, Jesse Green, if I could see his light sculptures with the house lights out, and we had a neat experience looking at them in the dark.  Then they scooted me out of this basement space where, believe it or not, my friends and I built a church coffeehouse in the late sixties.


     I was the last customer at Carrie Knowles’ Free Range Studio, which held it’s last First Friday event.  Carrie will concentrate on studio work and continue to have several events each year.  Heading home, I realized I had missed DesignBox.  You really can’t do it all.



     I took a break from finishing up this post to visit the Boylan Artswalk, where dozens of talented folks exhibit the first December Sunday each year.  It was a chance to check on Rebus Works and their fine display of work from Penland, and to see a museum quality piece of cabinet work just completed by Billy Peacock down in the basement.  BLAM! was exhibiting over at Lee Moore’s house, with previews of the Bain Water Project work.  I will be posting much about the Bain Project soon. The Boylan neighborhood sported pet portraits by Emily Weinstein, linocuts and CDs from Gerry Dawson, pottery from Nancy Redman, coptic journals from Bryant Holsenbeck, and much, much more.  Friday or Sunday, there’s a lot of creativity around this town!

December 7, 2008 Posted by | art, Raleigh downtown, Raleigh history | , , , , , , | 1 Comment