In April 2013 the North Carolina State Bar opened its new headquarters in the State Government Complex in Raleigh. The money to pay for the building came from the sale of the old building, and from a mortgage paid with members’ annual dues. The remainder of the money, and the money that paid for upgrades throughout the building, was raised by the North Carolina State Bar Foundation. The North Carolina State Bar Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, was created in 2010 to raise funds to assist in the construction and maintenance of the North Carolina State Bar’s new headquarters building. The foundation raised over $3,000,000, all of which came from private donors.
In addition to paying for upgrades for the building, the State Bar Foundation gave $250,000 to the State Bar earmarked for the purchase of art for the building. The State Bar has a history of supporting North Carolina artists, and displayed art in its former building on Fayetteville Street beginning in 2000 when the building was renovated and the State Bar received a sizeable donation of pottery by Ben Owen III for the lobby. The building renovations also left open the store-front windows that were part of the building when it was originally built as a department store. Rather than closing off the windows, the State Bar used them to display the work of regional artists on a rotating basis. Participating artists were featured each quarter in the State Bar Journal. This display created what was called a “mini gallery effect,” which enhanced Fayetteville Street and downtown Raleigh for 13 years.
While the new building was under construction, the State Bar appointed a committee to work with professional consultants to purchase art for the building. The Art Committee, consisting of Alice Mine, Nancy Black Norelli, and Glenn Dunn, with Leslie Silverstein as an ex-officio member, was guided by Rory Parnell, owner of The Mahler Fine Art, who has curated shows and directed art galleries for over 30 years. A year prior to the building’s opening, Parnell along with her former partner, Megg Rader, and associate, Shawn Brewster, began to examine possibilities for placing art in the building.
Ultimate decisions were made by the Art Committee. The committee decided that the State Bar could make a significant contribution to art in the state and could also support North Carolina artists by creating a collection of North Carolina art for the building. To be included in the collection, an artist must have a strong connection to North Carolina, either as a result of being from the state or as a result of spending long periods of time working in the state. There is art from many mediums—paintings, wall hangings, ceramics, glass, etchings, vitreographs, lithographs and photographs—and the committee worked diligently to insure that every part of the state is represented in the collection. The committee also chose to purchase art from artists of various levels of accomplishment, from emerging artists to well-known artists, some of whom have made significant contributions to art in North Carolina and some of whom are internationally known.
The committee also commissioned several important pieces that would not only enhance the collection and the building’s interior, but would also say something about the State and the legal profession. These pieces include a large mural on the wall between the first and second floors that depicts historically important legal documents and courthouses across the state; a sizeable ceramic tryptic outside the large courtroom on the second floor that depicts the people of the state from the mountains to the coast, a painting of a meeting room located in the oldest courthouse in the state, in Chowan County, and a painting that depicts the flora and fauna of the state. Many of the other works are representational of important North Carolina features or landmarks, natural or man-made. Others are abstract, and some are totally distinctive to the artists.
North Carolina State Bar Art Committee
H. Glenn Dunn, Poyner Spruill, LLP, Chair
Nancy Black Norelli, Norelli Law
Alice Neece Mine, Assistant Executive Director, NC State Bar
Leslie L. Silverstein, Interior Designer, Advisor to Committee
Rory Parnell, The Mahler Gallery, Art Consultant
North Carolina State Bar Foundation Board of Trustees
John B. McMillan – Manning Fulton & Skinner, PA
L. Thomas Lunsford II – North Carolina State Bar
James K. Dorsett – Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP
Irvin W. Hankins III - Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP
Dudley Humphrey – Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
William O. King – Moore & VanAllen PLLC
M. Ann Reed – Senior Deputy Attorney General, NC Dept. of Justice, Retired
Barbara B. “Bonnie” Weyher – Yates, McLamb & Weyher LLP