Truth to Power 5

T2P5 postcard back“Truth to Power” is a juried show open to NC artists that focuses on matters of social justice. This year marks the fifth installation of this powerful and thought-provoking exhibit hosted by Pleiades Arts, Inc.

Formerly Pleiades Gallery, this arts resource in downtown Durham recently incorporated as a non-profit, Pleiades Arts, Inc., to better expand upon its community outreach, arts education and innovation, and social justice initiatives.

The exhibit title, derived from a 1955 Quaker pamphlet “Speak Truth to Power,” illustrates a commitment to voicing our diverse truths to the systems and individuals who shape the society in which we live.  Visual art has been utilized as a vehicle for social and political commentary throughout history, and continues to communicate a wide array of ideals, opinions and criticisms from a spectrum of voices.

Artwork selected for the exhibit reflects timely national, global, local, and personal issues such as our national political divide; the First Amendment; police brutality; “faux news;” global warming; gentrification; sexual identity and exploitation; and fighting oppression of marginalized communities. The works reflect a mix of powerlessness and protest.

Juror Statement, by Pedro Lasch:

The issue of power in this juried exhibition is seen through an intentionally broad set of angles, media, and political viewpoints. Some of the artworks speak truth to power in direct ways, through strong statements or overt political positions. Others make space for poetic confrontations, obscure or idiosyncratic references, and the expressive manifestations of materials and objects. Most importantly, the idea of speech through art has put an extra focus on works with a clear artistic voice. The artists in this show come from a very diverse set of backgrounds. While their individual voices show very different characters and sensibilities, we believe they all have something important to say, and have found powerful ways of saying it.


Friday, July 21st there will be an Opening Reception and Artists’ Talk from 6-9 pm. Also on the 21st from 6-9 pm, Kai Soulfire, a poet, songwriter, and educator, will host an open mic event across the street from Pleiades Arts at Five Points Plaza for anyone who wants to speak/dance/sing/drum their Truth to Power.

In conjunction with the Truth to Power exhibit, Dasan Ahanu, E.A. Holton, and members of the Bull City Slam team will present a night of poetry and spoken word at Pleiades on Thursday, July 28th from 8-10 pm. Books of poetry by the artists will be available for sale.


The juror for Truth to Power 5 is Pedro Lasch, Associate Research Professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University. Pedro Lasch was born and raised in Mexico City. He divides his time between North Carolina, where he teaches art, art theory, and visual studies at Duke University since 2002, and New York, where he leads on-going projects with immigrant communities and art collectives, such as 16 Beaver Group since 1999.

His solo exhibitions and projects include Open Routines (Queens Museum of Art, 2006), Black Mirror (Nasher Museum of Art, 2008), and Abstract Nationalism & National Abstraction (The Phillips Collection, 2014); he has also participated in group exhibitions at MoMA PS1, MASS MoCA, Walker Art Center, CAC New Orleans; Royal College of Art, Hayward Gallery, Baltic (U.K.); Centro Nacional de las Artes, MUAC (Mexico); the Gwangju Biennial (South Korea), the 12th Havana Biennial (Cuba), and Documenta 13 (AND AND AND), among many others.

The author of two books, his art and writings have also appeared in numerous catalogues and edited collections, as well as journals across disciplines like October Magazine, Saber Ver, Art Forum, ARTnews, Cultural Studies, and Rethinking Marxism, and international news like The New York Times, The Philadelphia Weekly, El Universal, and La Jornada.


Pleiades Gallery was founded by local artists in April 2013 with outstanding contemporary art offerings across a range of media. In June, 2017 the business incorporated as a non-profit organization to better fulfill its mission of community outreach, arts education and innovation, and social justice programming. Pleiades Arts is located in the Five Points area of downtown Durham at 109 East Chapel Hill Street. All Pleiades Arts events are free and open to the public.


Together: Our Affinity for One Another


In our newest show, “Together,” each Pleiades artist paired with another local artist with whom they have something in common. The nine pairs of artists resonate with each other through shared use of materials, relationships, subject matter, or desire for social and political change. Each artist pairing presents differences, too.

Originally this exhibit was going to be called “Opposites Attract,” yet with the political landscape we changed the intent of the show to represent that together as artists, and as people, we need to celebrate our affinity for one another as well as our differences.

Yuko N. Taylor collaborated with her adult son and artist/painter, King N. Godwin. He has autism and does not speak well. Yuko painted his portrait and he painted his family portrait.  Yuko wanted to depict the wordless conversation between her son and herself. Yuko says, “After all, my son is 25.  He is my son and a great person, and he has autism.  We went through so much that I do not know how I got here, but it is all good.  I always wanted to know so much more about him, but he knows all about me already.  He taught me what I want for him is not really what he needs.  I still want to talk to him, so I know what he is thinking and feeling. Because I know he will teach me many very important things. He knows I want to know about him, and he decided to paint.  To show how he feels and how much he loves us.  After he became painter, I started to know I perhaps gave him a good life.  He knows how to love all he touches in his lives.  That is what I wanted him to know, that I love him.”

“Together” runs through March 5, 2017, with an opening reception on Friday, January 20th, 6-9 pm, and a closing reception on Friday, February 17th, 6-9 pm. We hope you will visit the gallery to meet the artists.

Renee Leverty & Dasan Ahanu  *  Kim Wheaton & Delvecchio Faison  *  Darius Quarles & Chrystal Kelly  *  Nate Sheaffer & Louis St. Lewis  *  Tom Dunne & Lucia Marcus  *  Teddy Devereux & John Cavallito  *  Mark Abercrombie & Kevin Clark  *  Yuko N. Taylor & King N. Godwin  *   Erik Wolken & Kerry Hudson

together slider

The Writing is on the Wall: a sculpture/word collaboration

“The Writing is on the Wall” is a sculpture/word collaboration by Renee Leverty and Leslie Frost in the upstairs gallery at Pleiades. Running until June 28, the show pairs intense and provocative prose with metal sculptures that span a range of emotions: humorous, uplifting, yearning, and introspective. The pieces explore challenging events in the lives of both the artists, as well as honoring stories of people they have met along the way.

The artists will have a preview reception on Thursday, June 18th from 6-8 pm, and also will be at the Third Friday Reception on June 19th from 6-9 pm. All events are free and open to the public.

About the Artists:
Renee Leverty loved art, but her high school art teacher Mr.Lefebvre relegated her to the back of the classroom, because she could only draw stick people.  Fortunately,  she remembered all the snowmen she had made growing up,  and decided sculpture would be her area of expertise.   Renee worked at Duke Hospital for 18 years prior to her life of art.
Renee is the co-founder of Pleiades Gallery,  Chair of the Cultural Advisory Board for the City of Durham, and creates sculpture mostly in metal, and of course snow. You can see more of Renee’s work on her Pleiades artist page.
Renee met Leslie Frost when they performed the steampunk halftime dance as part of the Saturday Night Fever Beavers at the Beaver Queen Pageant in 2011.

Leslie Frost was born in Sterling Colorado and had as many or more dreams of what she would be as there were places she lived as a child.
Colorado, Texas, California, North Carolina, Connecticut, Ohio, Kansas.
Cat. Movie Star. Ritchie Smith’s girlfriend. Catwoman. Cowboy. Veterinarian. Writer. Saver of the planet from pollution. Adventurer. Journalist. Literary scholar.

She now teaches students to love literature, dream big, and write well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

An Amazing Start to May!

May is an exciting time at Pleiades Gallery! Our featured resident artist for the month is Lucia Marcus. Please come see her show in the upstairs gallery: “Dreams and Other Compulsions.” Keep reading below to learn more about Lucia, her art, and her show.

This month we also welcome our newest Pleiades resident artist, Mark Abercrombie. Please see his artist page for a glimpse of his energetic work.

And this weekend, May 2-3, is the downtown Durham Spring Market Art Walk! We are site #3. Loook for the big red dots marking venues and please stop by to meet the local artists.

Lucia Marcus has been devoted to art since she was six years old. She derives great pleasure through her play with materials and design. Lucia finds inspiration in the sensuality of the human figure, the intrinsic beauty and evolution of nature, the shades of human emotion, and the legacy of soul and spirit that resides in the work of other artists.

Her solo show, “Dreams and Other Compulsions,” features a wide array of works on paper, clay, glass, and canvas. Some pieces are raw and gestural while others are meticulously detailed. Many of the artworks are derived from Lucia’s personal dreamscape — raw emotions, people from her past and present, and images that conjure intense narratives.

Lucia will host a reception for her show on Friday, May 15th from 6-9 pm as part of Third Friday events.

What’s Happening at Pleiades in April

We are so excited for two shows that are running concurrently at Pleiades Gallery in April: “Darius Quarles Unorthodox!!” and “Kind of Blue.”

Darius Quarles is our featured artist for the month of April and the upstairs gallery space is filled with his vibrant and dynamic work. The title of his show is “Unorthodox!!” which speaks to Darius’ distinctive painting style. His show runs from April 2-30 with an artists’ reception on Friday, April 17th from 6-9 pm. You are warmly invited to attend the reception and meet Darius.


The show in our front gallery for April is “Kind of Blue,” an exhibit about the intersection of visual arts and jazz, which runs April 2 – May 9, and overlaps with Durham’s Art of Cool (AoC) Jazz Festival the weekend of April 24-26, 2015.

Inspired by the album “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis, as well as the line-up of contemporary jazz and R&B musicians who will perform during the Art of Cool Festival, Pleiades resident artists and invited guest artists evoke the energy of jazz in metal sculpture, neon, mixed media, collage, and paint. In addition to works by eight Pleiades member artists, the gallery also features work by Raleigh artist Eric McRay and Brooklyn-based artist Rachel Abrams (Soundpapered). Also on display are vintage 1920s trombones (on loan from Robert L. Trowers, Assistant Professor of Music, North Carolina Central University).

Pleiades Gallery artists will host a Third Friday Reception on April 17th from 6-9 pm, and a special Art of Cool Welcome Reception on April 24th from 4-6 pm. The event on the 24th will have live music provided by Art of Cool from 4-5 pm. Please meet us at the gallery before you head to the Friday night AoC shows.


A Glimpse of the Artwork

For “Kind of Blue,” neon sculptor Nate Sheaffer created a powerful portrait of AoC headliner, Anthony Hamilton that captures the artist in closed-eye repose. The photographic inspiration is a photo by Rudy Archuleta. The neon portrait is rendered in deep cobalt blue, clear blue, and accented with off whites similar to the original image. The whole piece will float on a cushion of deep blue light with gold accents.

Mixed media artist Gray Griffin says of her urban-feel 4’ x 4’ painting in shades of blue, “I am trying to portray movement through music. Music is one of the things that motivates me while I’m painting and gives me a sense of freedom and in return, intensity from my soul.”

Oil painter Kim Wheaton explores the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of jazz improv sessions in a series of 24” x 30” paintings reminiscent of city lights at night. These paintings were made while listening to playlists filled with the music of The Kenny Garrett Quintet, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Snarky Puppy, and Roy Ayers, as well as jazz legends Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, and John Coltrane.

Darius Quarles portrays Louis Armstrong (“Satchmo II”, approx. 28” x 44”) in vibrant colors and bold, rhythmic lines of acrylic paint.

Renee Leverty’s abstract metal sculpture captures what it is like to be the listener of music – how music can stir your soul, and connect a room to a single beat.

Sculptor TJ Christiansen presents a trumpet-playing jazz musician made from shaped and welded washers and heavy chain.

Pleiades Gallery is pleased to also exhibit works by two guest artists, Eric McRay and Rachel Abrams. Eric’s mixed media work, “Boomtown by Night” (30” x 40”) is the piece selected for the 2015 AoC commemorative poster. Musicians, dancing figures, and city buildings reaching up to the night sky bring the feeling of the jazz festival to the viewer.

Boomtown by Night_EricMcRay

Specially for the Art of Cool Festival, Pleiades will display prints and original artwork by Rachel Abrams. The prints will be from the sketches she made at last year’s AoC Festival.  During this year’s festival, the gallery will have a live event where Rachel will post her new sketches as she makes them.



Pleiades Plus One

Running from January 8 to February 14, 2015, “Pleiades Plus One” is a celebration of our local arts community and the ties we make between artists.

When are you invited as a “Plus One” guest? It’s for a festive gathering that often marks a special occasion, like a wedding, a birthday, or a holiday event. “Pleiades Plus One” kicks off our 2015 exhibition year which will be filled with creative programming such as: exhibits by Pleiades artists, shows featuring guest artists and guest curators, juried invitational shows, and a new exhibition area upstairs in the gallery for solo shows and more experimental work.

For “Pleiades Plus One,” each Pleiades artist invited another artist to participate in the show, and each guest artist alsoinvited another artist to participate. The members of Pleiades want to share the gallery with other exceptional Triangle, NC artists and see what develops when links grow from artist to artist to artist.

The exhibit offers an eclectic mix of high caliber art by local metal and wood sculptors, painters, ceramicists, neon artists, and mixed-media artists.The artwork on display is new to the Durham art scene and will be the only opportunity to see all of these artists in one place at the same time.

In addition to a Third Friday Reception on January 16th from 6-9 pm, Pleiades Gallery will host a special celebration of the artists on Thursday, February 5th from 6-8 pm. All events are free and open to the public.

ArtsNow ( is generously sponsoring the “Pleiades Plus One” Third Friday reception, and the gallery is grateful for their interest and support of this show.

The “Pleiades Plus One” participating artists are:

Renee Leverty – sculptor, who invited

Vandorn Hinnant – sculptor/painter, who invited

Alyssa Hinton – mixed media photo collage

Kim Wheaton – painter/mixed media, who invited

William Paul Thomas – painter, who invited

Antoine Williams – mixed media

Nate Sheaffer – neon artist, who invited

Louis St. Lewis – painter/mixed media, who invited

William Moore – sculptor

Lucia Marcus – painter/ceramics, who invited

Tom Dunne – painter, who invited

Ray Tolan – sculptor

Bill Koeb – painter, who invited

Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh – painter, who invited

Mikel Sanfilippo – ceramics artist

Darius Quarles – painter, who invited

Booker Howze – painter, who invited

Gray Griffin – painter/mixed media

TJ Christiansen — sculptor (our newest Pleiades artist!)


Emily Cox and Jim Lee Illuminate Nature’s Cycles in “Fire and Light” at Pleiades Gallery, May 13-31


Fire and Light

Emily Cox and Jim Lee explore the cyclical reality of the natural world through sculpture and photography in the joint exhibit “Fire and Light” at Durham’s Pleiades Gallery from May 13 through May 31 at 109 E. Chapel Hill Street, Durham, NC.

Cox, a ceramic sculptor, and Lee, a photographer, share a love of the raw beauty of nature, including its deterioration, and explore it with exuberance and truthfulness. Both are aware that, in time, Nature will reclaim their work as dust and shards. See a special “Fire and Light” photograph by Jim Lee, featuring shards of a raku figure by Emily Cox.

A Salon Night with the Artists will be held Thursday, May 15, featuring live music and hors d’oeuvres at 6pm and an artists’ talk at 7:00.The public also is invited for refreshments at Pleiades’ Third Friday reception, 6-9 pm on May 16.

Emily Cox works with fire to create romantic vases, sculptures and wall-hangings. Her ceramic work captures the movement and textures of the wildlife, wind and water of the Louisiana and North Carolina wetlands. Her raku-firing process infuses dark smoke into glowing, 1750-degree-clay. Each piece is etched, carved, stamped and painted with layers of textures and glazes, reds, turquoise, greens and golds reminiscent of light behind her home on New Hope Creek in Durham.

Jim Lee relies on light to capture fragments of nature in growth and decay. With his cameras he explores both the beauty and the harsh reality of nature’s living cycles. Whether the images are from still-lifes in his studio or natural captures from his treks into the field, he finds stories and textures in the smallest, often overlooked, details of his environment. Ultimately, his work is directed at illuminating the remains of what life produces.

Located in Downtown Durham, Pleiades is a contemporary fine art gallery that celebrates Durham’s rich, diverse cultural energy. The Gallery welcomes new art appreciators as well as established collectors and strives to both build strong relationships with its customers and to help connect various arts communities within the city.

For more information:

Pleiades Fine Art Gallery

109 E. Chapel Hill Street Durham, NC 27701


Call for Artists

Pleiades Gallery invites local artists to join our new and growing gallery. We are looking for a small number of responsible, talented artists of diverse backgrounds and media to come together to help the success of our gallery in downtown Durham. We are interested in a variety of art forms in both two dimensions (painting, drawing, fabric, etc.) and three dimensions (sculpture, pottery, wood, etc.). Membership to the gallery will be by juried selection.  An interview also will be required.

For more information check out our “Call for Artists” page.