North Charleston gallery has portraits, abstract art

“Sitting by the Dock of the Bay” by Melody Croft.

The North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center are top-notch venues for events across the Charleston community. From sports events to big name musical headliners and Broadway touring shows, there’s never a shortage of cultural and artistic happenings.

As an added bonus, a good percentage of the events are family-friendly. Being able to take my daughter to see Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! at the PAC was a highlight of parenting, even if she didn’t understand why her dad was more excited to see Biz Markie onstage instead of DJ Lance Rock. (For readers without young children, one day you’ll understand what I’m talking about.)

Between the two well-known venues lies the common area of the Charleston Area Convention Center. And it is here you’ll find a different kind of artistic venture, one you might not always associate with the typical Friday night fare at the Coliseum: the North Charleston City Gallery. This month the City Gallery is showcasing two artists with diverse styles, adding a worthwhile display that you may want to add to your calendars.

Athens, Georgia-based artist Melody Croft and local artist Matthew Dietz will have art on display at the gallery through Sept. 26.

Croft’s exhibit, “The Space Between Us,” is a collection of portraits that stand out for their blurred realism and their depth of emotion. Croft’s oil paintings capture her subjects in some of the more nuanced moments of their lives: sitting on a bench, drinking wine or riding a bus. But once you examine the lines of her art and the lines on her subject’s faces, you’ll see something different. These people, much like her title suggests, look like us. And often there is some emotional, social or technological divide.

In Croft’s engaging pieces, sometimes cell phones and other handheld devices create distance and space — space that is easily recognizable by those of us who walk around glued to our screens.

Croft also includes cutout letters from newspaper and magazine print as a way to “include poetry excerpts to accomplish two goals: first, to enhance the overall image and second, to introduce the viewer to the person in the portrait,” as the artist statement on her website says.

But where Croft zeroes in on defined subjects, Matthew Dietz opts for the abstract. His exhibit, “Process, Pattern, and Transition,” is a collection that utilizes shapes and space in a way that allows the viewer to search for intricacies and patterns that, at first glance, may appear familiar, but slowly draw your eyes to smaller bits of color and larger layers underneath.

In the same way that Croft’s works display space between figures, Dietz’ work displays space between objects. His acrylic paintings act almost as puzzles for your eyes; there is a specific way that they fit together, but you have to comb through the pieces little by little before the image coalesces.

In their own way, both artists in the exhibition demonstrate the range of artistic offerings that the City of North Charleston’s Cultural Arts Department highlights.

The exhibit is on display Thursday through Sept. 26. The artists will host a free and public reception at the gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. The gallery is located in the common areas of the Charleston Area Convention Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Parking and admission are free during regular Convention Center operating hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. The gallery is staffed Thursdays-Saturdays only.

More information is available at the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website, www.northcharleston.org, or by calling 843-740-5854.