Between a huge drawing show at CAM Raleigh, a dancer at Fukushima and apocalyptic knitting, museums and galleries offer the best alternative to sunblock this summer: Staying inside and looking at lots of great art.
Bill Thelen, whose gallery, Lump, marks its 20th anniversary this fall, decamps to the vast interior of CAM Raleigh for The Nothing That Is (June 5–Sept. 7, 409 W. Martin St., Raleigh, www.camraleigh.org), the summer's biggest show. Thelen curates and organizes with assistance from Jason Polan, dividing the show into five "chapters" that explore all corners of contemporary drawing and mark-making, with artists from the neighborhood and around the globe. From the worlds of zines and illustration to conceptualism and social practice, the show reaches for the comprehensive, even including video animation and community drawing outreach projects through Polan's Taco Bell Drawing Club, Greensboro's Elsewhere and the CAM Teen Council.
Thelen's not neglecting the home front, though. At Lump, With Everyone Watching (June 5–27, 505 S. Blount St., Raleigh, www.teamlump.org) features George Jenne and Carrie Alter's collaborative grotesquerie. They passed a sketchbook back and forth until they'd produced a startling variety of drawings, some of which are collected into a pocket-sized, limited-edition book. Also look for Artspace's I Just Called to Say I Love You (June 5–July 25, 201 E. Davie St., Raleigh, www.artspacenc.org), where Brooklyn/Kansas City-based artist Jaimie Warren builds a huge tableau vivant based on "Primavera," Botticelli's classic painting of Venus in the woods, incorporating costumed volunteer actors into the set.
In Durham, Pleiades Gallery's A Body in Fukushima (June 18–July 25, 109 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham, www.pleiadesartdurham.com), a team-up with the American Dance Festival, features William Johnson's powerful photographs of choreographer and dancer Eiko Otake—half of the beloved performance duo Eiko & Koma—amid the radiation-ravaged Japanese landscape.
Also downtown, The Carrack Modern Art's Double Capture (June 2–13, 111 W. Parrish St., Durham, www.thecarrack.org) features Erin Oliver's shadowy monochrome paintings and a terrific sculptural hanging. And in group show Hey Neighbor, SPECTRE Arts (through August, 1004 Morning Glory Ave., Durham, www.spectrearts.org) acknowledges the wealth of creative talent nestled in the Golden Belt Arts District, with artists from the Golden Belt studios, Supergraphic, Liberty Arts and Dogstar Tattoo.
Chapel Hill offers a trio of great group shows in June, most notably Butterflies Are Free: Women Photographers at LIGHT Art+Design (through July 4, 601 W. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, www.lightartdesign.com), which brings together the work of Barbara Tyroler, Tama Hochbaum, Sarah Cioffoletti and Leah Sobsey, whose swarm of 200 cyanotype butterflies is breathtaking. Hochbaum and Sobsey are also among the 10 artists in The Horace Williams House's Committee Meeting (June 7–29, 610 E. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, www.preservationchapelhill.org), which features work by the House's Art Committee, including Warren Hicks, Renee Leverty, Anne Thomas and others. Hicks reappears with photographs in FRANK Gallery's Overtures: An Invitational (June 9–Aug. 9, 109 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, www.frankisart.com), which gathers paintings by Anne Gregory, Paul Hrusovsky and Catherine Gregory, sculptural work by Bill Moore and Ann Matrone, and wool abstractions by Sharron Parker.
As we turn the corner into July, visit Ackland Art Museum's Testing Testing: Painting and Sculpture since 1960 from the Permanent Collection (July 17–Jan. 3, 101 S. Columbia St., Chapel Hill, www.ackland.org). This reconsideration of the UNC-Chapel Hill museum's collection, installed in its new and improved front galleries, promises to be a curatorial playground, featuring a wild variety of work from the likes of Nam June Paik, Lorna Simpson, Tony Oursler, Yinka Shonibare, Thornton Dial, Barkley Hendricks, Sean Scully and many other names you'll recognize. And hit Hillsborough's Daylight Project Space for Almond Garden (July 31–Aug. 22, 121 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, www.daylightbooks.org), Gabriela Maj's moving photographic portraits of women incarcerated in Afghanistan for "offenses" such as fleeing forced marriages.
Echoing the big show at CAM, the Durham Art Guild's Illustrious: Spotlight on Regional Illustration (July 3–Aug. 1, 120 Morris St., Durham, www.durhamartguild.org) is an expanded take on illustration juried by Derek Toomes. It's also the first project to come out of DAG's curatorial internship program. In late summer, see the work of local photographer Jessica Berkowitz in Tiny Situations at Through This Lens (July 17–Aug. 15, 303 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham, www.throughthislens.com). She shoots commercial work as well as images of hand-built dioramas that give eerie senses of perspective.
Flanders Gallery's two simultaneous shows (July 29–Aug. 29, 505 S. Blount St., Raleigh, www.flandersartgallery.com) extend into Lump's space: Derek Toomes shows new sculptural work combining welded steel with handmade paper and screen prints, while in Signs of Disaster, Katie Boyette's apocalyptic knitting complements the wry signage of Megan Sullivan's fiber work and drawings.
With werd, Visual Art Exchange (July 3–30, 309 W. Martin St., Raleigh, www. visualartexchange.org) continues its parade of great, thematic juried shows with work from many artists across many media, all involving text in some way. VAE's one-room Cube Gallery stays hot this summer, too, with installations by the prolific Detroit-based Margi Weir (June 25–Aug. 7) and New York's Jason Paradis (Aug. 27–Oct. 2).
Several area museums break out the yellow tape this summer. While the galleries at the North Carolina Museum of Art await big fall shows of M.C. Escher and Leonardo da Vinci, the museum is getting underway on a long-term renovation of its 164-acre campus. Parking and trails will expand, new outdoor artworks will be installed and a new street entrance is planned.
The Gregg Museum of Art and Design's new addition onto the old chancellor's residence, which finished its $3.9 million fundraising campaign in April, enters its construction phase, which is expected to last 18 months. The Ackland Art Museum is replacing carpet and making repairs in its front galleries, which will be closed from June 8 to June 30. Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art has closed one of its three pavilions for a substantial renovation. Curator Marshall Price is taking the opportunity to revisit the museum's permanent collection for The New Galleries: A Collection Come to Light, opening Aug. 27.
"I'm really excited about this re-installation, as it's an opportunity to show the breadth and depth of the Nasher's collection," Price says. "Galleries will be dedicated to specific areas of the collection, including those that have rarely been on view in the past, such as traditional African art and ancient art of the Americas. The pavilion will also include a curatorial incubator space that will be used for more nimble programming, including faculty and student-curated projects."