Seven years ago, Bill Thelen and Med Byrd strategically bought a nondescript little building just a few blocks down from the gentrified City Market and Artspace. Then they divided it into rent-producing studio space and a self-supporting gallery devoted to decidedly uncommercial, cutting-edge urban art. LUMP was born.
By now Raleigh's first truly alternative gallery has proven there's a larger than expected market for inspired departures from the norm. Lately, Thelen and Byrd have been trading works with alternative galleries in Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago and Richmond, introducing those artists to our area and our artists to them.
The result? A strong fall lineup for LUMP, which opened this month with Mark Mothersbaugh's Hi-Jaculate Yourself, and continues with The Broken-Down Mysterious Doors of the Impossible, a collaboration between Philadelphia Space 1026 artist Andrew Jeffrey Wright and San Francisco graffiti legend Twist/Barry McGee.
Even Thelen doesn't know exactly what they are planning for the space, but he has given them carte blanche. Wright is the creator of Circus Peanuts, an ironic take on typical American cartoon strips. McGee, who participated in the prestigious 2001 Venice Biennale, paints both outdoors and in gallery contexts. He repeatedly depicts a near-trademark droopy-eyelidded visage on walls and found materials as diverse as framed pages of music or clustered glass bottles. He says he is trying "to capture the overload of the senses that one might feel walking down the streets of any one of our fine American cities."
The two will give a lecture in the Hanes Art Building Auditorium at UNC-Chapel Hill on Oct. 30. Their show opens at LUMP Nov. 1.