Black Mountain College’s Spring Awakenings

Gerald van de Wiele, "Odyssey"
“Odyssey” by Gerald van de Wiele

Downtown’s Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center hosts a retrospective of Black Mountain College alumnus (1954–’56) Gerald van de Wiele through May 19. Covering seven decades of art, the exhibition combines paintings, sculptures, drawings, ink sketches, and watercolors to highlight the artist’s unique approach to color and line and his inspiration from the pulse-rhythms of the natural world.

On leaving Black Mountain College, van de Wiele moved to New York City, where his drawings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery with those of artists such as Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. Although his work eventually slipped out of circulation from the mainstream comings-and-goings of the New York art world, he remained connected to artists, poets, and composers over the years.

Alice Sebrell, program director at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, notes that the exhibition gives visitors a unique opportunity to explore the artist’s evolution. “We can bear witness to this one artist’s path over the course of seven decades and appreciate his commitment to painting and sculpture over time,” she says. “As anyone who makes work knows, it can be challenging to sustain it over many years, and to do so at this high level is an extraordinary achievement.”

Recently, van de Wiele’s work has attracted new attention in conjunction with increased interest in the history of Black Mountain College. He was among the few featured in Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art, curated by Vincent Katz for the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, in 2002. More recently, a selection of his early drawings was included in Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957, the first comprehensive exhibition featuring the artists of Black Mountain College to tour the United States.

Gerald van de Wiele: VARIATIONS / Seven Decades of Painting is on display at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, 56 Broadway, through May 19. Call 828-350-8484 or visit for more info.

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