Maud Gatewood

  • Apr 8, 2007 – Sep 9, 2007
Maud Gatewood, "Jungle Rituals", s/d 1987, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in.
Bequest of Maud F. Gatewood, 2004.

Maud Gatewood (American, 1934-2004) was a powerful force in the North Carolina art community. As a painter, teacher, activist and staunch individualist, she delighted viewers, inspired students, supported organizations, and served as a role model for how to participate in a world of images and ideas. Maud was also a good friend of the Weatherspoon Art Museum and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). She left trust funds for a guest artist lecture series and bequeathed a portion of her estate and 18 works of art by her and other American artists to the museum. She also made a generous gift to the University toward the new art building on campus, which is named in her honor.

“I think you learn that life isn't always straightforward,” she once said. “I think it's in the nature of the species to be a little evasive and covered. Ambiguity might be the heart of life as well as art.” Indeed, a sense of ambiguity fills her haunting Mississippi Café. Two white patrons and one African-American are separated and quietly look in opposite directions. The artist does not make it clear what, if anything, else is happening. But the painting’s somber tones create a mood of severity, and what is evoked is a question: what is the relationship among these depicted figures? That is left for us to answer.

Gatewood was equally adept at landscape and architectural subjects, also included in the exhibition. Like many successful artists, she drew routinely in a variety of media, recording thoughts for new paintings or drawing for its own sake. She never focused on one style, preferring instead to experiment with materials and approaches that led to works such as Bungles from the Creek Bed with its eccentric horizontal bands of color.

Maud routinely refused to discuss the specific content of her art, saying that her paintings were her statement. She was tough and unrelenting in her views, and was not afraid of explicit honesty. Maud once said, “It's like people: If you meet a person that's absolutely pleasant, they tend to be innocuous. Nothing's worse than being pleasant.”

Maud Gatewood graduated from Woman's College (now UNCG) in 1954, where she studied with Gregory Ivy (the founding chair of the art department at UNCG, he also organized a gallery that has since grown to be the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and he served as its first director). She earned a master's degree from Ohio State University in 1955, and in 1963 she won a Fulbright to study art in Austria under renowned painter Oskar Kokoschka. She had numerous one-person shows and was the recipient of many awards. In 1994, the Weatherspoon presented a retrospective exhibition of her work. We are pleased to present Maud Gatewood again, featuring new acquisitions from her bequest.

 

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