Bartholomeux is a lonely little dog. He tries playing the trombone, but it doesn’t stick. Then he discovers the piccolo, which, it turns out, he loves. He practices and practices, and one day a bird hears him and tells him how good he sounds. The bird tells other birds, and suddenly Bartholomeux is playing for flocks of them. He isn’t lonely anymore. This is a loose outline of the story that Nathan Durfee tells in the 24 paintings he’ll display in Piccolo Spoleto’s Tales Transposed: A Celebration of Imagination, which will hang in the City Gallery.
The series grew out of the Piccolo Spoleto poster that Durfee created for this year’s festival, which depicts a befeathered Bartholomeux playing his piccolo for an appreciative animal audience, many of whom seem to be joining in with their own instruments. Durfee will be joined for Tales Tranposed by two other Southeastern artists, the paper artist Lillian Trettin and sculptor Judy Mooney.
In keeping with the imaginative story-telling theme of the exhibit, Trettin’s paper collages and free-standing paper figures are inspired by Southern literature, especially the works of Flannery O’Connor. The pieces are intricate, colorful, and darkly cartoonish, very like the stories that inspired them. Mooney, who works in clay and bronze, will show a collection of interpretations of Gullah vernacular architecture, like praise houses, one-room cabins, and tabby cabins. Mooney became interested in exploring Gullah buildings after meeting a Gullah woman at one of her shows several years ago. “One of the sculptures was of an African-American woman with two children named The Story Teller,” she says. “[This woman] was attracted to the sculpture. She told me she was a Gullah storyteller and invited me to come visit her. The rest is history.”
Part of Piccolo Spoleto.