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NC Arts Incubator and Open Art Society partner to produce Pop! Siler City, a series of 11 temporary public artworks by artists from around the Triangle, March-May 2015.

Filling empty storefront windows, this first round of installations by North Carolina artists will create a gallery on the streets as they respond to the unusual history of the Chatham Rabbits.

From the late 19th Century until early 20th Century, Chatham County was known for its rabbits, which were shipped across the US for food and furs. Stories and history about the rabbit abound and have been featured in Our State magazine and UNC Press’s Southern Cultures.
The artwork created for Pop! Siler City celebrates the history of Chatham Rabbits. The rabbits were a source of prosperity for the county and people throughout the area were involved in the trade. In responding to this interesting history, the artists creatively build on the stories of that time. The installations will be on display March through May 2015. To launch the series, join us for a full day of events in downtown Siler City on March 21st.

  • 9am-noon Rabbit Pancake Breakfast at Courtyard Coffee and Soda Shop. Only $7 to enjoy Rabbit-shaped pancakes and support the NC Arts Incubator.
  • 10am-5pm Live Rabbits from the Chatham Rabbit Farm in the window of the South Eastern Karate Association, 109 N Chatham Ave. Chatham Rabbit Farm will also have rabbit meat for sale.
  • 2:30pm the Chatham County Historical Society’s Tommy Emerson will host a conversation about the Chatham rabbits at PAF Gallery at the NC Arts Incubator
  • 4pm on March 21st, you can join us for a tour and artists talks. The tour will leave from the NC Arts Incubator at 223 N Chatham Ave and end around 5pm with an award ceremony and we’ll announce the winners of the Siler City Merchant’s Association Basket Giveaway
  • 6:30pm music by Lightin at the Courtyard, 223 N Chatham Ave.

NC Arts Incubator is a gathering place for area artists, providing studio and gallery space in the heart of downtown Siler City. Interim Director Deirdre Brown says of the project “The NC Arts Incubator is very pleased to facilitate such a incredible day of art and history and to be part of the moving forward in Siler City’s Community.” They have created several programs for art in downtown including the Third Friday Art Walk, and the storefront art installations were a perfect way to incorporate more art along Chatham Avenue.

Open Art Society is an L3C based in the Piedmont region of NC and works with artists to produce art everywhere for everyone. The Chatham Rabbits series of Pop! was produced in collaboration with NC Arts Incubator and with grants from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the Grassroots Grant program of the Chatham Arts Council and the NC Arts Council.

Thank you to the downtown building and business owners who are contributing their time and space for the project.

Installation descriptions:

At 212 N Chatham Avenue:
DEBBIE ENGLUND creates a monument to the Chatham Rabbit, referencing the Olmec basalt heads from Mexico in her large-scale sculpture. The piece blends the natural form of the rabbit with the style of these ancient artworks. Debbie is a graduate of Central Carolina Community College’s sculpture program and is currently pursuing a BFA at UNC Greensboro.

KAISHA NICOLE BYRNE is creating a felted sculpture installation depicting the possibility of the African American involvement in the Chatham Rabbit trade. This is Kaisha’s first public artwork.

Artist DARE COULTER creates a whimsical safe-haven for the Chatham Rabbits. Dare is currently a student in NC State’s Art + Design program. She works across a variety of mediums from ceramics to watercolor. Learn more about Dare’s work at DareCoutler.com.

Artist NICK MURRAY is creating an opportunity for the viewer to once again hunt the Chatham Rabbits through a series of colorful, abstract glass panels filled with hidden rabbit imagery. Nick works in glass, metal and painting, combining mediums and techniques to create unique artistic pieces.

ROBIN VAN VALKENBURGH at 117 S Chatham Ave
Robin references the grandfather of pop art Andy Warhol in her installation of Bun Slingers. “The idea for the rabbit came from my visit to my sister’s house in New Mexico where the rabbits roamed free on the high desert and were as big as dogs.” Learn more about Robin’s work at robinvanvalkenburgh.com.

HELEN SEEBOLD & ERIN LAWLER at 132 N. Chatham Ave.
Artists Helen Seebold and Erin Lawler create Rabbit Quilt in the style of the Nine Patch Quilts. Each block features an image and text referencing the history of Chatham Rabbits while connecting them to the mythology of rabbits across history and cultures. Helen and Erin have partnered on many public art projects throughout the Triangle, creating site-specific work that touches on community and history. Learn more about Helen and Erin at www.littleflowerart.com

BETSY KENDRICK at 227 N. Chatham Ave.
Artist Betsy Kendrick repaints history adding in the story of Siler City and the rabbits to repurposed thrift store paintings. Betsy is an art teacher in Asheville and freelance artist who has participated in art festivals throughout the US.

TRICIA GAMBER at 138 N. Chatham Ave.
Tricia Gamber is incorporating hand-painted silk and egg luminaries to create a colorful scene that mythologizes the Chatham Rabbit. Tricia has been sewing and designing since she was 12 years old. Her work combines nature and Celtic designs.

MICHELLE HUDSON at 124 N. Chatham Ave.
Watercolorist Michelle Hudson creates a series of colorful watercolor rabbit portraits. Her quick, fluid strokes capture the individual personalities of each rabbit. “I enjoy capturing an image of something I’ve recognized as beautiful or unique and it is often the flaws of my subjects that I find the most interesting.”

ROGER PERSON at Wingnut Gallery, 143 N Chatham Ave. and Person to Person Art, 210 N Chatham Ave.
Rabbits abound at artist Roger Person’s galleries on N Chatham. Roger’s work often features manufactured objects and plenty of humor. The mural featured on the side of Wingnut Gallery building is by artist JR Butler.

DEEDEE BROWN, JR BUTLER, MICHELLE HUDSON, Rabbit Hunt, along Chatham Ave.
Artists Deedee Brown, JR Butler, and Michelle Hudson collaborated on this piece, creating 90 small ceramic bunnies hidden along Chatham Ave. Join the Rabbit Hunt and find your own small artwork to take home.

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