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Not too many people would describe tornadoes, drops of rain or oak trees as works of art.
That’s exactly what Alistair McClymont sees in those objects and other things that are more often studied by scientists with distance and detachment than viewed by artists as a source of inspiration.
McClymont will be at the Contemporary Art Museum, 409 W. Martin St., on Friday to unveil work that will be featured at the museum for three months in an exhibit called “Everything We Are Capable of Seeing.”
Want to go?
First Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m., is a monthly art event in downtown Raleigh. Galleries stay open late and many restaurants offer special deals. To learn more, go online to FirstFridayRaleigh.com.
First Friday admission at the CAM is $5, and doors are open 6 to 10 p.m. The event will include live music, food trucks, a cash bar and a second annual speed dating event.
More First Friday
Adam Cave Fine Art, 115 1/2 E. Hargett St., Celebrating the gallery’s fifth anniversary with a five artist group show featuring Joshua Flint, John D. Gall, Will Goodyear, Wayne Trapp and Tisha Weddington.
Artspace, 201 E. Davie St., Multimedia dance company Code f.a.d. will perform 10-15 minute excerpts starting at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Upfront Gallery will feature Greg Carter’s wall and floor sculptures made largely from found objects.
Designbox, 307 W. Martin St., Sweet Suite: Large-scale paintings by Stacy Crabill.
Flanders Art Gallery, 302 S. West St., Orpheus in the Underworld: works by Louis St. Lewis
Gallery C, 540 N. Blount St., Vincent Daddiegeo and Gloria Roberts, new paintings and sculptures. Also, lithographs from Russian artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985).
Litmus Gallery, 312 W. Cabarrus St., Dis/Connect: A collection of pieces by Mark Wroblewski depicting fragile relationships.
Local Color Gallery, 22 Glenwood Ave., The Human Heart: artists Allison A. Dahle and Mary Beth Owen-Zdanski.
Lump, 505 S. Blount St., Guests of Horror: Your Worst Nightmare, In Its Own Hell by Carlos Gonzales and Ryan Martin.
Nicole’s Studio and Art Gallery, 719 N. Person St., Town & Country exhibit featuring local contemporary Impressionists Dan Nelson and David Oakley.
Roundabout Art Collective, 305 Oberlin Road, World Views: photographs of Saudi Arabia by Broughton High School art teacher Nancy Carty
Tipping Paint Gallery, 428 S. McDowell St., Flowers & $#!+: juried exhibition of contemporary still life.
Visual Art Exchange, 309 W. Martin St., Left Hanging: Artist talk with Aimee Hertog at 7 p.m.
Maybe the most striking piece on display will be a freestanding tornado concocted by simple means. Three fans affixed to metal piping work with a custom-built humidifier to make an endless series of tornadoes that dance around the room.
The idea came from a previous project that involved the Wizard of Oz, the London-based artist said. McClymont said he wanted to make a tornado from water that people can walk through, so using only basic components was a necessity. Anything bigger would have required a large enclosure and costly parts.
Most of McClymont’s work has similar origins. “One project leads to another, and they all start with me wanting to know how something works,” he said.
Another piece is a machine that makes a single drop of water hover in mid-air by using a specially designed wind tunnel. The machine took two years to build and is modeled after something built by researchers at the University of Manchester who were studying rain.
What may first appear to be a large, wooden asterisk is in fact a project titled “Oak Tree.” A stack of medium-density fiberboard is arranged in the exact pattern that oak leaves form on a tree. Oak leaves appear in 104-degree intervals and leave behind a natural spiral. McClymont said he uses MDF because it is one of the cheapest wood-like substances made and is something that may appear to be wood but is not.
“There’s a real beauty in all of this,” McClymont said. “Something traditional, something that definitely belongs in a gallery. But there’s also something scientific about it. I’m interested in that intersection.”