Styrofoam Head With Beads

I don’t often stray away from painting but sometimes life decrees a temporary shift in course. I had to vacate the studio to accommodate guests, but a chance dumpster find of a Styrofoam head put a spring in my step and made the situation a bit less ouchy.

It’s always satisfying to make art out of things which would normally end up in the landfill, and many of my frames and painting surfaces are gathered this way. It’s unusual to do entire sculptural works based on such finds, however. It’s nice to be reminded that I can do something unexpected and new.

I began with a Styrofoam head abandoned in the alley behind our house.

Styrofoam Head

These inexpensive forms are designed for wigs and are readily available in craft stores. Other than a few dents here and there, my example was in pretty good shape. I left it outside as a lawn ornament for a week before commencing work and even that didn’t seem to faze it. I learned some things the hard way on this project so here are some tips which might be useful to others.

First, the head must be sealed before painting. I used ordinary latex house primer but have since learned that smearing the outside with Elmer’s Glue works too. Don’t use spray paint or oils or anything with a solvent in it. Doing so results in a melted head, which might be appealing but I was going for something else. After giving the surface a good priming, I covered the surface with three coats of red acrylic paint diluted with acrylic glazing medium. When you’ve been an artist a while, the supplies mount up. It’s common for a piece to be determined pretty much solely by what’s on hand and I had an overabundance of both.

Styrofoam Head With Acrylic Paint

It soon became clear that the project was influenced by ancient art.

Clay Goddesses From the Pottery Workshops of Kumartuli, India

India is one of the few places where contemporary pieces have changed little from those of thousands of years ago and I often go to that tradition for inspiration. My head clearly owes a lot to the clay goddess statues still being made today by the potters of Kumartuli, India.

Red Styrofoam Head

As I painted my own version, it was interesting to see how differently the face would appear after the tiniest adjustments of a line. We are so attuned to the human face that changing the shape of an eye or a lip by even a millimeter can entirely change the way we interpret an expression. In art, as in life, it’s reassuring to know that small steps can lead to such big things.

I could have stopped at this stage but the project seemed a little too close to this-is-just-a-fancy-wig-holder. I needed something more to turn it into art, or at least a bolder and stranger wig holder. Here is the result.

“Red Styrofoam Head With Beads” by Lynda McClanahan

Some fake hair, buttons, a quantity of floral corsage pins and many beads later, I’m left with this vaguely Hindu goddess. Object of devotion or over-sized knick knack, this is one of the few recent projects which I would put in the category of sheer, unadulterated, joyful play. I feel refreshed, re-invigorated and ready for whatever comes next.

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Completion, Disappointment and Doubt

“Vulture Serenade” sold so quickly I didn’t get a chance to hold it close and contemplate it as I usually do. I’m always glad to release pieces into the wider world and am happy the vulture painting flew the coop. After all, what’s the use of dying atop a huge pile of unsold work? Even so, I often replace works with something similar in style when things turn over more quickly than expected. I’ve done it this time too.

Anonymous Persian Folk Genre Painting

I’ve continued to explore vintage popular paintings of Iran. A good portion of this opus consists of sweet, fantastical confections involving harem ladies with a hint of lesbian love, providing a sly, appealing edge. What’s better than one pretty lady? Two pretty ladies, preferably two who are interested in one another and not shy about presenting themselves for another’s pleasure. The above reference work is an example.

Sketch for “Red Fox” by Lynda McClanahan

I kept the general idea of the figures in this sketch but quickly discovered just how formulaic and strange the reference work really is. The canon of proportions of the original involves a shocking amount of elongation of the figures, just like the last time. This creative habit may have been the result of artists restricted to viewing ladies through veils and burkas, but it could also be an aesthetic decision to provide as much space as possible for fancy dresses and over-the-top ornamentation. The figures appear grotesque without those aids however, as I quickly discovered. I shortened everything quite a bit while retaining the general idea, including hand position and drapery, but the fox is all mine.

“Red Fox” by Lynda McClanahan in Process

There is a more laid-back color palate on the floor tile this time in order to lessen visual competition with the subjects, but for some reason this led to all sorts of agonies when it came to color choices for the ladies themselves. Every painting offers its own gifts and challenges and these most often develop while working through the project. Every creative decision opens some doors and closes others and nothing is ever really wrong (India taught me that all colors go together), but that’s not how it feels as a work inches forward. The truth is, even though it might appear that my work is pre-determined as soon as the sketch is completed, this is never actually the case. Colors and patterns are decided on the fly and all details are done free-hand and not consciously pre-planned.

“Red Fox” by Lynda McClanahan

The finished work is attractive and ornamental, but the fox knocks things away from formula and straight into strange-land, which is exactly how I like it. If an image is entirely predictable, how can it possibly be true?

I’m always entering shows and mostly not getting into them, but a recent rejection felt worse than usual. It’s always a crap shoot in this biz, but when you’ve tried three times with different curators and come up with the same result, it can be rather hard. Every fellow artist will know exactly how the inner dialog went as I considered that, once again, my best work didn’t make the cut. Only the art gods know if it ever will but, in the meantime, a cloud of doubt and embarrassment has settled upon the mind like a thick, vile cloak. Sometimes this whole art thing feels just like High School. I remain the eccentric outlier, an indulgence on the side but never a member of the club. Joke’s on me. After years of trying to meditate the ego away, it turns out that art is the best ashram there is for wearing it down. Note to self: if you can’t endure getting your feelings hurt, don’t be an artist.

Partly as a way of softening the current psychological funk, I’m throwing myself into music. Nothing purifies the spirit like playing the accordion and singing your heart out.

Nick & Polina play Bossy Girls Pinup Joint

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Up Close and Everywhere

I’m working on the frame intended for “Vulture Serenade” while the piece is away at the photographer. There’s often a mixture of relief and anxiety when a big project is finished. I pour myself completely into whatever I’m doing and since art is pretty much all I do these days, there’s a gaping hole in my life whenever the drafting table is empty. Painting frames helps.

“Vulture Serenade” was prompted by an invitation from the Vanderelli Room to make a piece on the transformational power of loss. I used to think that creating something at the suggestion of another was difficult, but these days, it doesn’t seem any different from creating something completely on my own. It’s like reverse-engineering a river system. You start with the ocean, move on to the river and end up standing next to the creek in your own back yard.

I keep a file of images which have already attracted the imagination so the first thing I do before beginning a project is to comb through it for something which jumps out. My theory is that all of the images are, by definition, in sympathy with my own subconscious mind and maybe even the wider, deeper recesses of the minds of others. Experience has taught that the image which won’t go away even when I want it to is always the right one to follow. This time it was the popular painting traditions of Persia, in Iran.

Anonymous Painting from Iran

Every culture has its own variation on the theme of pretty ladies getting up to whatever pretty ladies get up to when they’re alone, but for some reason this one really stuck with me. There are a gazillion similar works to be found on the web, many of them reverse-painted on glass, which gives them a crisp, luminous look. The layout is always wonderfully strange, more like applique work on a quilt than a traditionally composed painting. In this example, all the fruits and flowers are simply plopped on top of the carpet, as if each object were created separately and then sewn into place. The patterns are sophisticated and finely done, but they also work toward flattening the plane, a technique I like and use often. There’s a freedom in disregarding perspective and scale which I find utterly delightful and somehow more true. In real life, the wine glass would be three feet tall and the pear is big enough to cover the lady’s face, yet it doesn’t affect the power or message of the painting in the least. I’m fairly certain there is more than one hand in evidence here. How else to account for such a sloppy looking cat? As in much of medieval art, a master probably did the main figure and left everything else to assistants. One of them may have been a bit pesky too, because those red velvet curtains which enfold the figure’s head like a crown have a bit of a labial look. This thing was designed for pleasure of all kinds.

Once I had the basic idea (figure, interior, musical instrument, animals) I sat with it for a few days. I was confident that the Persian piece was pointing to something, but exactly what that something was, I hadn’t a clue. The period just before an idea flashes forth feels like praying for the answer to a story problem. Just as in math, if a solution is assumed, it always appears. I always get my idea.

Sketch: “Vulture Serenade,” Lynda McClanahan

I soon discovered just how elongated the main figure was and marveled at how the source artist had somehow made it all work. I shortened the lady’s lower half by at least a third, yet it still retains the strange, off kilter foreshortening affect of the original. Good thing I like strange.

“Vulture Serenade” by Lynda McClanahan

I retained the patterning of the original but have shifted away from an idealized version of pleasure in favor of just taking pleasure in the way things actually are. The human condition is ripe for contemplation, but it’s the kind of meditation which only yields results if undertaken honestly. Nature’s book is full of wisdom, but you can only get it if you read to the very end. A former teacher used to say, “the world is a bedroom, not a courtroom,” but I’d say there’s a lot of rough play going on in that room, however beautiful its bedspread and curtains.

All of my paintings are designed to lure viewers in with an idea and to hold them close once they get it. Anyone who gazes for more than a moment will soon discover I’ve gotten there ahead of them, no matter where they look. I’m in every single inch of this painting, and so are you.

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The Advantage of Assignments

Art assignments are a lifeline when inspiration fails and confusion arises. In normal times, one show would lead to the next, forming a cogent line of thinking and conversation. But these days, there’s literally no one to converse with, at least not in person. What is there to say when there’s no one to say it to? One wonders. In the meantime, theme-based calls and invitations from gallery owners keep creativity flowing.

One such lifeline has been “Ekphrastic Fantastic,” an open call from the Cultural Arts Center. Participants were given a random image and tasked with putting together an artwork of their own.

I was initially slightly dismayed when I received this photo prompt, but a longstanding obsession with the Fayum mummy portraits eventually saved the day.

Fayum Mummy Portrait

These late Egyptian funerary portraits were attached to mummy wrappings and are the only examples of ancient Greco-Roman panel painting to survive into the modern era. Some are haunting, some are clumsily done and some are so stylistically fresh and energetic you’d swear they were painted by an unknown impressionist master. I’ve been admiring them for years. I reduced the photo to the main elements of tower/window/vine and sat with them for at least a week before Fayum finally came to mind. To those who care to look, the tower became a mummy, the window became the portrait and the vine took care of itself.

“Mummy With Vines” by Lynda McClanahan. Frame gifted by Sarah Weinstock

I kept the piece small on the theory there might not be a great market for such things, but you never know. I’m often surprised at how things are received once they leave my hand. “Ekphrastic Fantastic” is slated for a soft opening and is mainly a virtual effort but, even so, it’s good to have something in the works as the pandemic drags on.

I’ve been invited to produce a piece loosely centered on the transformational power of loss as well. I was uncharacteristically stumped by this at first, but a couple weeks of churning out decorated cigar boxes must have shaken something loose. I’m currently chugging away on a new piece provisionally entitled “Lady With Vultures.”

Initial Sketch: “Lady With Vultures”

I’ve gotten inspiration from Persian miniatures for years, mostly via the Mughal art of India. But lately I’ve been perusing the sentimental popular arts of Iran. What might strike others as clunky, primitive and childlike, I receive as sophisticated and psychologically refined. Most striking is the freedom of perspective found in this tradition. The viewer’s eye is purposefully elusive in these works, allowing for observation from the side, above and anywhere in between, all at the same time. This softens the habit of linear perception in favor of something deeper, more diffuse and contemplative. A door is opened and the viewer is invited inside, but everything in the room floats around freely. Like a dream, all is vivid, strange and utterly devoid of the strictures of ordinary consciousness.

“Lady With Vultures” in Process

I’ve only begun and weeks of work lie ahead, but it’s a profound relief to have something on the drafting table. This piece may or may not meet the needs of the gallery which has inspired it, but it will make for an interesting painting either way. No effort is ever lost in this game.

Regarding the theme, in absence of any way out of the human condition, maybe the noblest choice is to just sing your heart out. That’s why people like the blues.

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The Long Pause, Hippie Hut & More

It’s been almost a year of not posting. Nothing regarding the global pandemic, the ever-widening, downward cycle of hellish political theater, the depression, the weight gain, the wine and, paradoxically, the most productive year of art I’ve ever had. Go figure. Rather than rehash a year of sorrow, I’ve decided to begin again with what’s on the table now.

I’ve been going through old art supplies, looking to lighten the load. This has led to uncovering a quantity of strange, forgotten things left over from our old Comfest booth, Hippie Hut.

Hundreds of decoupaged pennies and a quantity of cigar boxes tucked under the eaves have led to these “Treasure Boxes.” The pennies, decoupaged with images clipped from old catalogs and sealed with epoxy resin, were part of a series of matchbox “Porta-shrines.” Each shrine had something glued to the top and was filled with an affirmation and various miniature “power objects” reinforcing the general theme. They sold like crazy so maybe there are a few of them still out there rattling around in somebody’s junk drawer. The images were gathered over 30 years ago and are decidedly dated, which I hope is charming. The market for decoupaged pennies with Jerry Garcia’s face on them is probably pretty small at this point, but what the hey.

Porta-shrine from Hippie Hut

This example, bought by old friend Laurie von Endt and returned to me after her death, is the only one I have left and is a bit of an outlier (most of the shrines were devoted to such spiritual luminaries as Jimmie Hendrix and Dime Bag Darrell). It gives a good idea of the original idea behind the pennies though.

Pandemic Clean-out-old-supplies Projects in Process

As usual, even tossed off projects such as these can get complicated if you want them to.

Lamentation Box by Lynda McClanahan

What started out as a funky way to store jewelry has morphed into a “Lamentation Box.” People have asked what this means but it’s really just something I made up in response to, well, everything. Maybe I’ll open it up on days when I need to be reminded that “joy comes in the morning.”

Even though this is a time of no shows, openings or interaction with others, the art world limps forward.

Romuls & Remus With Octopus

“Romulus & Remus With Octopus ” is currently at the Vanderelli Room as part of Alicia Vanderelli’s “An American Sunrise” Exhibit.

“Mummy With Vine” by Lynda McClanahan

“Mummy With Vine” will be delivered to the Cultural Arts Center for a show tomorrow…

Priming Plywood

…and board is being primed in the basement.

Doing art often feels like singing in an empty room. But now that the room literally is empty, it’s reassuring to note that the compulsion to make work remains as strong as ever.

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When a Project Gets You Down

Some people use art as personal therapy, a strategy for purifying the psyche of troublesome memories or ideas. I usually try to stay away from this sort of thing but sometimes a project wants up and out so badly all you can do is step out of the way and hope for the best. “Romulus and Reema With Octopus” is an example.

It all started with this tiny bas relief sculpture spotted in the background of a news photo from Jerusalem.

Romulus & Remus Ornamental Detail: Building in Jerusalem

I’ve done pieces on this theme before but something about this particular design just wouldn’t let go. I interpret feelings such as these as commands from the subconscious mind, an assignment from one portion of the personality to another, but this one seemed like so much work, I almost didn’t do it at all. If it hadn’t been for a suggestion planted by A.J. Vanderelli over the Summer, I might not have persevered. As it is, even just the possibility of having a place to show such a work proved a substantial lure. The power we have to influence one another should never be underestimated.

Sketch for “Romulus & Reema With Octopus” by Lynda McClanahan

I continued in the recent multi-paneled style. This has the advantage of allowing for various “takes” on the subject matter, variously softening and sharpening the main point as it comes in and out of focus. Visually, I like the tension of a scary Creature From the Black Lagoon flanked by cartoonish, absurd sharks. Maybe it’s just me, but when the world breaks your heart, absurdity can be your only friend.

Creature From the Black Lagoon With Sea Lampreys

Panel by panel, a long, slow slog of labor ensued, broken up only by holiday duties and gigs.

Statue of Liberty detail: “Romulus and Reema” by Lynda McClanahan In Process

The Statue of Liberty panel was a source of anxiety but turned out to be one of the easiest of the project.

Red Octopus Detail from “Romulus & Reema” by Lynda McClanahan

The ocean scene, by contrast, took a lot of fussing, with many mistakes and missteps along the way.

“Romulus & Reema” by Lynda McClanahan In Process

I mask off completed portions of these multi-paneled layouts as I work my way through the board so it’s almost impossible to know whether the project will hold together as a whole until the very end. This creates both excitement and anxiety which doesn’t always lessen after the masking is removed. Sometimes it even makes it worse. Every artist knows that each road taken always infers another which was not.

“Romulus & Reema With Octopus” by Lynda McClanahan in Process

I could have handled the latticework dividing the panels any number of ways, each one no better or worse than the other, just different. In the end, I opted for more detail, which seemed safer. Whatever else it is, a painting is also just a visual record of decisions made.

Now that the project is done, I’m struck by the effect it had on mood as I chugged toward completion. Rather than relief at getting something out of my system, depression, anger, sorrow and a touch of nihilistic despair have dogged me the entire time I’ve labored over this thing. I was taught that the truth would set me free, but this particular truth seems to have only set me free to mourn. When asked what this piece means, I’ve hemmed and hawed a bit but, really, it’s a visual interpretation of current cultural trends vis a vis climate change. Whatever my personal feelings about our reaction as people to this situation, the earth-witness of the octopus looks us square in the face and declares it’s seen it all before. Each time, the ocean won. Perhaps I’ll take comfort in that.

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When Things Fall apart

After weeks of manic God’s-eye-craft-making and an unwelcome spate of back trouble, it’s back to the drafting table and fine art. Continuing in the spirit of revisiting older work, I’d already sketched out a new version of this long ago sold painting a few months ago.

“Ohio River” by Lynda McClanahan

“Ohio River” was a smaller piece on plywood trimmed out with bright yellow wooden molding. I remember being not quite satisfied with the shape of the water, but size constraints of a surface left over from a home building project dictated just doing the best I could.

“River Goddess” in Process

The new piece was sketched out onto a larger hunk of commercial cradled board. I like these sorts of surfaces but don’t use them very often due to cost. I thought I was being clever by taping a copy of the old piece as a guide and masking the background to prevent smudges. If only I’d known what lay ahead, I might not have bothered.

“River Goddess” in Process

I chose another treatment for the water and widened the streams, but the initial idea to form a confluence over the figure’s crotch was abandoned. Masking the entire background with painter’s tape was tedious but I was taking my time and thought it was worth it. Best laid plans….

Stream Detail: “River Goddess”

I was carefully adding the delicate wave detail when all Hell broke loose. Somehow, a can of white paint had hurled itself across the entire surface without my noticing! How it happened, only the art Gods know. Chalk it up to inattention, clumsy arthritic hands or just plain bad luck, but if running away had been an option, I surely would have done it. I quickly wiped the piece down with mineral spirits, hoping for the best but, alas, the best was not in the cards. Many hours of cleaning, wiping and over-painting have pulled the painting back from the abyss, but it will never be the smooth, finished product it might have been.

“River Goddess” by Lynda McClanahan In Process

Working with your hands is the opposite of the digital realm. When things fall apart they can’t be undone with a click or just by thinking about them. In the real world, the same effort which goes into digging a hole is required to fill it up again. I’ve learned the hard way that humility in the face of factors which can never be completely controlled is a must in this endeavor. If you spend enough time in the studio, eventually disasters appear along with the victories. Some pieces fall into line with no effort at all and others seem designed to knock the ego straight out of you. If at first you don’t succeed, do it over and over and over again.

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White Spy vs. Black Spy

I’ve been waiting to hear back from Wild Goose Creative Gallery regarding a dual show in July of 2020. I’ve been accepted as one half of a joint exhibit but confirmation by the other artist is yet to come. In the meantime, I’ve worked up two small things in anticipation of a Mad Magazine show curated by Jay Mueller to be held at the Vanderelli Room in December.

There is no formal call for submissions as yet and no guarantee my work will be included, but based on the intuition that I will shortly be very busy indeed, I plowed ahead. The worst that could happen is I’ll have two more sweetly funny pieces available for use in the future.

“Spy vs. Spy” was a cold-war-inspired cartoon drawn by Cuban expat artist Antonio Prohias which ran in Mad Magazine for many years. The idea seemed to be two identical combatants, one dressed entirely in white and the other in black, locked in eternal conflict. This was a fitting metaphor for the anti-communist anxieties of the 1950’s and ’60’s but also suits current rage-filled statecraft absurdities. I began to visually riff on what might have become of Black Spy and White Spy now that their Mad Magazine platform is fast receding into the past.

The first order of the day was to peruse the internet for traditional images of the characters. The most popular iteration was this view of the two ostensibly shaking hands while secretly menacing one another with dynamite and bombs held behind their backs.

“White Spy vs. Black Spy” by Antonio Prohias

It would have been fine to just copy this image, color it up a bit and be done with it, but I needed something more. When viewers think they know what they’re going to see even before they’ve seen it, you’ve wasted your time. I wanted to retain the spirit of the original but somehow turn it on its head and make it surprising.

I let myself imagine what became of the contentious spies once the curtain came down on all their aggression. Did they finish each other off? Or did they finally hold hands and declare the whole former enterprise just a closeted exercise in erotic action? I chose the latter.

“White Spy With Cat” by Lynda McClanahan

“Black Spy With Rabbit” by Lynda McClanahan

My version of these two adversaries affirms them as frustrated lovers. The menace remains but the gifts have been transformed into what they’ve secretly always been. In my imagination the spies are finally free to openly pursue their love affair. Who knows? Maybe they are quietly living in an assisted care facility, comfortably ensconced together on the couch, watching TV. Perhaps they learned that when rage, fear and competition have been completely expelled and used up, there is nothing left but love.

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The Joy of Small Things

When the impulse to do large and ambitious projects appears but ideas do not, I turn to creating small things. This has the advantage of keeping the creative motor running while waiting for inspiration to strike. It’s never a mistake to have a quantity of small, modestly priced pieces to fill out hoped-for future shows. Such things move quickly, provide a bit of cash and reaffirm that the world supports what I do. I’ve just finished two such projects begun last week.

“Hand of Fatima” is pulled from one of the 100 images I used for “Snakes & Ladders.” This hand-and-eye symbol is from the ancient Middle East but is now popular in both Islam and Judaism as a good luck charm. There is some speculation that it is connected to various goddesses of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia but who knows about these things? I see it as a literal representation of the connecting point between human consciousness and the more general consciousness of Nature; Mother Earth placing her creative, shakti-infused hand directly against the foggy, obscuring windowpane of ordinary human perception.

“Child’s Pose” by Lynda McClanahan

The second piece to tumble from the drafting table is “Child’s Pose.” This work is basically a copy of a graphic seen in a yoga pamphlet put out by “Hinduism Today Magazine.” I changed the patterns on the rug and clothing and put the lady in white hair and braids but, other than that, the image is pretty much the same.

There is a positive joy in turning one’s hand to small things while waiting for “the big one.” I follow visual impulses without hesitation or censorship. I’m in the flow.

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Ohio Art League 2019 Fall Juried Show

The Ohio Art League holds two juried shows a year, in Fall and Spring. Both exhibits are highly competitive so it’s always a thrill to be included. Art making is a lonely and often unrewarding enterprise, so opportunities like these are always received as reassuring victories.

I was out of town and missed the opening but it’s better to see the art on your own anyway. Receptions are for schmoozing and making the scene, not for savoring what’s on view. Today was my day to do the latter.

An amazing range of styles are on view in this show. Here are just a few of them.

Roger Williams, a local art luminary, dependably delivers top-of-the-line, accomplished work. I have little to no art history background and don’t really know what deconstructionism is, but anyone with eyes can see a tension between delight and confusion in this work. When I reverse-engineer the consciousness underlying his ouvre, I see a brave and honest acknowledgment of a world which is constantly spinning away from our ability to understand it. There’s a subtle humility to Roger’s work which isn’t immediately obvious but which is there nevertheless.

“After the Funeral” by Tim Murphy

This medium-sized piece won first prize, which strikes me as notable. Ohio is such a populous state, with literally thousands upon thousands of art school graduates of considerable skill and experience. Folk-inspired work can get lost in such a crowded field and often goes unrecognized. The addition of the three-dimensional heads in the foreground of this piece pushes it away from the usual flattened planes of most naive art. A triangular design draws the eye toward the center, yet leads it outward at the same time. I prize psychological resonance and this piece has it in spades.

“Blue Mood” by Ronald Mlicki

Bright color is what first drew me to this one, but there’s more here than meets the eye. The standard model-like pose works to negate the central figure, turning it away from a real person into more of cypher, a theme reinforced by the flowers on the skirt and the wallpaper-like design behind it. The addition of a black shadow gives the piece visual punch but it also seems slightly sad. The overall effect seems to be a portrait of someone with no access to herself, only patterns and shadows constructed by someone else. There’s either no one on the line of the phone or no one present enough to answer it.

“Red Sea, Silent Sea” by Robert James

Color is also the most obvious attractant in this piece as well, but what really calls out to the viewer is a visual rhythm enhanced by restricted color palate. A lovely, insistent drumbeat rises all the way from the bottom to the top. I gravitate to art which is superficially attractive but strange and unsettling underneath. It’s a mistake to think we’re capable of really understanding this life and the art I like always reflects this.

Evangelia Phillipidus

Evangelia Phillipidus displays technical brilliance served up with equal parts of pleasure and mystery. I admire the armature of delta-like triangle forms crowned by the saucily feminine castle and gate. If you look closely, there are actually two interlocking triangles in this work, like a Star of David or the Sanskrit symbol for the heart chakra. There’s a nice visual confusion between feather and wave in the lower part which is in harmony with Evangelia’s usual densely-packed pieces, but the design is somewhat simplified in this one. I adore it.

I always note how curators handle the wall space between the public restrooms at the Cultural Arts Center. This pairing strikes me as interesting and a bit provocative. A pistol for men and candy colors for the ladies? I await interpretation by others.

Large shows are always a crap shoot when it comes to placement but I find this grouping particularly advantageous. My work always benefits from loads of light and time for contemplation so the addition of a bench is most welcome. The colors of these four works hang together beautifully and the conversation between them is funny and sweet. Note the X-like form which ties all of these paintings together. A green plane with subtle reference to nose cone art, boats, an over-the-shoulder backward feminine gaze, a green clad bathing beauty on the beach…yikes! It doesn’t get much better than this. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in hanging this show. What a treat!

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