Now in his 80s, Thornton Dial has received wide recognition as one of the nation's most intriguing visionary artists. Born in rural Alabama, Dial began making works as a boy but didn't show up on the art world's radar until the 1980s. Now a full-time artist whom some critics don't bother to tag as "visionary" anymore, Dial produces visually kinetic, colorful work charged with energy similar to the most gestural of the Abstract Expressionists. His spectacular outdoor sculpture "The Bridge" in Atlanta's Freedom Plaza has become emblematic of the city's civil rights history.
UNC's Ackland Museum of Art opens the first comprehensive show of Dial's early drawings and paintings with Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper. The opening begins in the Hanes Art Center with a public lecture by guest exhibition curator Bernard Herman and UNC American studies professor George Tindall. Then the event moves back to the Ackland, as local Americana band Sinful Savage Tigers (picking up on one of Dial's lifelong themes) performs in the exhibition gallery. The event runs 5:30–8 p.m.; admission is free, but an RSVP is required to acklandRSVP@unc.edu or on the event's Facebook page. —Chris Vitiello