Revved Up

Artist Jan Lukens heads up an exhibit for Revolution Mill’s revitalized gallery

By Billy Ingram

Can three guys in their 60s revolutionize the local art scene? Discover for yourself on October 11th at Revolution Mill’s newly christened Gallery 1250 (1250 Revolution Mill Drive.)

I had first seen the spectacular 2,800-square-foot, glass-enclosed open space three years ago, when it was designated a satellite exhibition space for UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum.

But like every good intention, the vision never came to fruition beyond its initial splash: Raleigh Street artist James Marshall’s floor-to-ceiling mural in variegated shades of green.

From his studio across the hall from the unrealized gallery, artist Jan Lukens grew increasingly frustrated

“I complained,” Lukens says. But he also banged out a business plan, which Revolution Mill’s general manager, Nick Piornack, liked. “It’s yours,” he said

But what to do for the inaugural installation? “Since I’ve never been a gallery director before,” Lukens says, “I thought I’d get my feet wet by being in the show so I invited two close friends to join me for a show called Triple Vision.”

The Greensboro native hopped from advertising illustration to full-time painting in 1992, making a name for himself with majestically realistic portraits of thoroughbreds and Olympic jumpers. “A lot of people think that’s all I do because that’s all they ever see from me. So I’ve only got one horse painting in this show.”

His fellow exhibitors are Roy Nydorf, recently retired head of the art department at Guilford College with an M.F.A. from Yale, and Michael Northuis, who has an M.F.A. in painting from UNCG and was a visiting lecturer there and at Guilford College for years. Some may remember GreenHill’s respective of Nydorf’s work in 2012.

While Lukens’ animal portraits are realistic, Nydorf’s and Northuis’ multimedia creations might best be described as highly imaginative figurative paintings, rich with art historical references and social comment. “My intention for Gallery 1250,” Lukens explains, “is to show large-format art, in an alternative exhibition space, by the best artists in the area and beyond, focusing on painting, photography and sculpture.”

And how does he find setting down his paintbrush long enough to take the, uh, reins of Gallery 1250? “I still do commissioned work but when I do work for myself, I get to make all the decisions and that’s so much fun.”

— Billy Ingram


Photograph by Billy Ingram

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