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September uses a wide palette 

Variety is the spice of life," they say, and to keep life from going bland, the flavorful shows that open this month have a taste for everyone. From self-portraits to nature scenes, design and photojournalism, it's all there for your hungry eyes (and in some cases, ears) to devour. Enjoy!

Autobiographical metaphors by San Diego-born, Durham-based artist Erika Nawabi is on view in Shush!!!! at Artspace's Gallery Two from Aug. 21 to Oct. 8. Nawabi's paintings have a knack for capturing troubled emotions so life-like it's disquieting (though not unpleasantly so). One painting, "I know it so well," portrays a sad and confused young woman holding a faint yellow ribbon that entraps a furling black cloud, almost like a leash holding a pet of amorphous, angry emotions. Nawabi uses paint, ink, collage and found objects in work that "orchestrates past, present and anticipated events connected to her misplaced sense of self." Curious? Nawabi will be present at the opening reception during the First Friday Gallery Walk on Sept. 3, 6-10 p.m. 201 E. Davie St., Raleigh. 821-2787 or www.artspacenc.org.

The Gallery of Art & Design at N.C. State opened Nomads & Villagers: Woven Work from around the World on Aug. 19 (the show runs through Sept. 26). The exhibit includes more than 40 traditional woven textiles, saddlebags, blankets and other necessities from around the world, including Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas. The majority of the works are by pastoral women of the late-19th and 20th centuries. The opening reception will take place 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 26. Walter Denny, professor of art history and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will also give a lecture in conjunction with the exhibit on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. at the College of Textiles. For more information call 515-3503 or visit www.ncsu.edu/gad.

Duke's Center for Documentary Studies presents a call to arms for the upcoming election season with Oh Freedom Over Me, which opened Aug. 16 and runs through Nov. 7. The multimedia exhibit marks the 40th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a storm of civil rights events that took place in Mississippi in 1964. Freedom Summer pushed, among other things, increased voter registration for blacks in Mississippi (which boasted the lowest in the country at the time) and establish "a legally constituted Freedom Democratic Party that would challenge the whites-only Democratic Party in Mississippi."

It was then that Civil Rights activist and photographer Matt Herron gave birth to the Southern Documentary Project, in which he organized a team of eight photographers to record civil rights movements in the South. Now, 40 years later, a selection of the images, along with radio interviews with Freedom Summer veterans, is the focus of the exhibit. The exhibit will also provide materials for voter registration for those interested. 1317 W. Pettigrew St. 660-3663 or cds.aas.duke.edu.

Calling artists of all types! The Orange County Arts Commission is hosting the next Artist's Salon, with the purpose of creating closer bonds between artists and the general community in Orange County. Interested? Be there Friday, Aug. 20 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Arts Center in Carborro. Entry is free for all artists. Featured speakers include Kate Billings of the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission, muralist Michael Brown and artist Jim Hirschfield. RSVP at 245-2335 or e-mail arts@co.orange.nc.us if you plan to attend.

Finally, for those seeking new terrain, a reception for The New Familiar, a free open-air exhibit of oils and watercolors, will take place Friday, Aug. 27, from 5-8 p.m. at the historic Burwell School in Hillsborough. The uniqueness of this exhibit comes not only from its approach to painting nature, but also from the cooperation of the two artists, Jennifer Miller and Henryk Fantazos, who have been painting together since 2003. For Familiar, the painters visited three local sites with the intent of transcending the familiarity of the scenes they saw with deeper reflection and intense meditation.

Miller's work interprets these scenes with shocking serenity and detail: Most remarkable is the soft play of sunlight in her painting "Inside the Nuthouse," as it seeps through cracks in one of the abandoned farmhouses. The work of Fantazos--rendered in bolder colors and embodying a slightly more surrealistic use of tone, angles and shadow--conveys a sense of frozen motion: families cooking by the riverside, ramshackle homes where splintered planks of wood threaten to drop from the depredated frames.

The show runs through Sept. 26. 319 N. Churton St. 644-1521.

More by Birgit Schuette

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