As new members of our Chatham County community, Chatham Park is powering our Go See This series this year because art is an integral part of Chatham County’s identity. They join us in inviting you to Go See This . . .
Mike Benson is a rock ‘n roll artist. His drawings and photographs and posters of pop legends and vintage rock and cinema venues celebrate his continuing joy in the music. He carries the torch, illustrates the icons, continues the tradition. The rough edge of his work fits well into the neo-industrial vibe saturating The Smelt Gallery, a former cold war era aluminum parts manufacturing factory on Lorax Lane, a couple of miles west of Pittsboro’s town circle.
Benson, born and raised in Chapel Hill, has always been an artist. Best known around here as the creator and former owner of The Station and Southern Rail in Carrboro, his first love was drawing and photography. And he likes to make things – lamps and tables are included in the show.
A visit to this show feels slightly subversive, like bouncing a rock off the limo’s bulletproof glass, smoking in the boy’s room, or blow-drying your uncle’s comb-over in the wrong direction. Feels like an adventure. The benign kind.
The Plant is Pittsboro’s blessed answer to the mainstream American strip mall, a step into the model home of a genuine community. This eco-industrial cauldron is the brain child of Lyle Estill, horn-tooter for all things community, and circus master and lion tamer of The Plant, home of Fair Game Beverage Company, Chatham Cider Works, and Starrlight Mead.
Lorax Avenue is home to The Plant, the epicenter of Chatham County’s unofficial sustainability movement – low impact small agriculture, recyclables, slow food, local drink. The Plant is the Piedmont’s poster child for the earth-friendly, good-living, and living right crowd. And a hub for fine spirits – beer, brandy, wine, and hale fellows well met. What’s not to love?
There is a raggedy-edged, grass-through-the-asphalt, hope-I-get-outta-here-alive Deadwood zeitgeist to The Plant, which is, of course, totally charming. It’s not Crabtree Valley or Carowinds.
Distressed industrial chic. The main drag, The Plant.
This is the third show in three months for the Smelt Galley. Marcela Slade, Smelt’s director, is enthusiastic about providing a venue for the region’s growing roster of visual artists. She knows many talented artists without a central venue to show their work. Smelt provides a focused destination beyond the yearly Chatham Artists Guild Open Studio Tour.
This artist, this gallery, and this venue are all signposts to Pittsboro’s identity, and – more broadly – to an alternative future community and ongoing cultural development for Chatham County. The spirit of experimentation, risk, and innovation are hallmarks to what is happening in this once-hinterland outpost of Pittsboro, NC. Benson is an everyman artist. Smelt Gallery and The Plant are for everyone. They blend well – this artist, this gallery, and this eco-industrial gathering place – like alloyed aluminum in a melting pot. Come be part of the alchemy.
What: Show of photographs, furniture and artwork by Mike Benson.
When: June 8 through June 30. Hours available at https://www.facebook.com/smeltartgallery/
Where: Smelt Gallery at The Plant. 220 Lorax Lane, Pittsboro 27312.
What will this cost me?: Free. Adult beverages are additional.
Accessibility: There is a 200 yard walk down an asphalt drive to the center of the complex. No steps. It’s a bumpy ride for a wheelchair, but do-able.
Parking: Free parking area just outside main entry
For More info: Go to Smelt Gallery Facebook https://www.facebook.com/smeltartgallery/