Spring always has been associated with rebirth and new life. But this feels particularly true in 2021, as arts and entertainment options shuttered during the pandemic cautiously resume opening their doors for patrons to enjoy.
Case in point: Theatre Art Galleries (TAG) has reopened its main gallery in the High Point Theatre with a new exhibit titled “Mannequin Musings.”
The exhibit is the gallery’s first since the pandemic forced it to close nearly a year ago. In fact, “Mannequin Musings” builds on that most recent show — an exhibit of Tony and Emmy award-winning designer Paul Tazewell’s costumes. Tazewell is one of Broadway’s and Hollywood’s go-to costume designers, whose work includes “Hamilton” and “The Wiz,” as well as the upcoming movie “West Side Story.”
“We had about 15 of his costumes here, which was a coup for us,” said Jeff Horney, executive director of the Theatre Art Galleries. But to stage the exhibit, TAG had to buy mannequins.
“We asked, ‘What can we do with these creatively?’” he said.
That question was posed to a group of accomplished North Carolina artists — and Horney said they responded in ways beyond imagination and expectation.
“They did a phenomenal job,” he said. “We’ve got 15 (works of art) totally different from one another. These mannequins were re-imagined by these talented people.”
The participating artists include Pam Baldwin, Marilyn Barr, Annie Chrismon, Owens Daniels, Katy Erikson and Molly Harris, Shann Ferreira Holder, Dana Holliday, Kim Kanoy, Kim Quintal, Diana Ridge, AE Reed, George Scott, Kathy Vincent, Rukiya Williams, and Michele and Ben Yellin.
Exhibit organizers intentionally left the instructions to the artists open-ended. But they asked them to generally consider the broad themes of looking back at 2020, looking ahead to 2021 or just new life in general. What they received were 15 completely different approaches, ranging from the poignant to the whimsical.
The exhibit also is a welcome return to something closer to normal for TAG. The organization kept busy in 2020 with its arts education and outreach efforts, as well as a well-received “Artists at Home” video/web content series, in which area artists discuss their work and careers.
But while TAG officials are pleased to be able to reopen the main gallery, they remain committed to keeping visitors safe. Masks are required to visit, and all CDC protocols will be followed.
In addition, TAG is offering a free virtual exhibit for people who prefer to experience “Mannequin Musings” from home. Visitors — both in-person and online — also will have the chance to vote for their favorite piece, and the winning artist will receive the “People’s Choice Award” for the show.