Larry Wheeler, who served as Director of the North Carolina Museum of Art for 24 years, led the museum during periods of historic growth, including the expansion of the park, amphitheater, and West Wing Building. A former ‘Tar Heel of the Year’ winner, Wheeler’s friends and coworkers came together for a large gala celebrating his retirement.
Wheeler retired Nov. 1 after 24 years according to this article in the Washington Post by Geoff Edgers: “The North Carolina Museum of Art might as well be a solar system away from the international art fairs, auction halls and bicoastal behemoths that suck up so much of the art world’s oxygen. But during his tenure, Wheeler created a cultural hot spot in a state once known mainly for college basketball, Krispy Kreme and Andy Griffith. The North Carolina Museum of Art has a rich collection, a thriving exhibition program and an outdoor concert stage. A network of trails thread through its 164-acre campus. Over Wheeler’s tenure, he has added a glass-walled second building, doubled his staff and repeatedly broken attendance records. There are also things you can’t measure, the bold strokes and attitude that he brought to a once-sleepy institution.”
“For me, Larry’s just turned the lights on at the museum,” said Ann Goodnight, a onetime volunteer who, during Wheeler’s tenure, became a trustee and multimillion-dollar donor with her husband, Jim. “Before him, the museum was a hidden secret.”
SDW company members Anthony Nelson and Megan Rindoks joined the performing cast and donned the blue fabric pictured above to bring Ellsworth Kelly‘s Blue Panel to life. The nine-foot-tall, eight-foot-wide blue canvas according to Matthew Dunco in this article, aims to transform art into an almost spiritual experience. He states that the indifference we may feel while viewing it, neglects the experience of standing before it. That “indifference stems from simply accepting what is at face value, and art should never, ever be viewed as such.” I can’t think of a better painting for these two dancers to express, as they simply have a such a depth to bring to their movement that reveals the layers of possibility even the simplest of tasks.
This documentary follows Amanda Finch, Executive Creative Director of Down to Earth Aerials, who coordinated and managed all the performing artists across the campus and oversaw costume design.
For more information: www.downtoearthaerials.com