I could not call this a blog about the arts in Jackson if I didn't mention the USA International Ballet Competition (IBC) currently taking place here. While I usually just focus on visual arts in gallery spaces, the remarkable beauty of these dancers excels to a level of artistry infrequently found in galleries. There are, however, some painting and photography exhibitions that coincide with the competition that are definitely worth visiting. The IBC happens every four years and Jackson is the only location it is held in the United States thanks to the vision and love for ballet by the late Thalia Mara.
The poster artist for the IBC this year is Mississippi State University professor Brent Funderburk who seems to draw a lot of inspiration from ballet and dance. There are two opportunities to see his watercolors in Jackson right now. There is a group of paintings in the mezzanine area at Thalia Mara Hall where the IBC is taking place. There is also a group of paintings and drawings at Bryant Galleries. His vibrant watercolors are a mix of surrealism and non-objective abstraction with hints of east Asian influence. Fruit transforms into celestial beings, while empty paint tubes seem to take on human personas. This is most evident in the painting "Today" which seems to represent the crucifixion of Christ. There is a faint nimbus behind the "head" of the center tube that may be difficult to see in the image below.
Funderburk's drawings, however, seem to have a different influence. They are much more reminiscent of the Russian Suprematism work of Kazimir Malevich, or the Italian Futurists.
Another must see show in conjunction with the IBC is Celestial Bodies/Infernal Souls: Photography by Lois Greenfield. These stunning photographs at the Arts Center of Mississippi are of dancers captured in mid-air and mid-stride displaying the pinnacle of the capabilities of the human body.
Winter Into Spring