Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Egon Schiele


Years ago, I viewed a major exhibition of Egon Schiele's paintings and drawings at MoMA. Photographs of his work in Art History 101 had not prepared me for the nuances of Schiele's startling imagery.

Standing in front of his large canvasses, bits of contrasting colors, scrumbled lines and underpainting became abundantly clear. Even Schiele's finished paintings have a mosaic-like drawn quality that I found quite appealing.

These were not erotic in the sense of being titillating, but were rather illuminating, as one realized Schiele's masterful draughtsmanship, sense of color and love of form.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mindy Solomon Gallery

“All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”
Philip Johnson

There is a similarity in architecture and sculpture in that both deal with space, either contained or surrounded. These two art forms come together and can be seen to enhance each other in a thoughtful well designed art gallery.
That is the feeling one gets on first entering Mindy Solomon Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Located in that city’s downtown arts core, the small gallery exalts space with 25 foot ceilings, an open floor plan and abundant natural light. The airy space seems larger because of it.

This is not an interior unto itself, but intended to show off its contents, in this case an exquisite exhibition of Korean ceramics and paintings. With muted colors and elemental forms, these vessels and wall-pieces are perfect objects for the minimal gallery space.
"My House 2"
Kang Hyo Lee
One is drawn to contemplate each piece and the process of looking can become a simple meditation. Perhaps because of the artists’ Oriental esthetic, I went away with the feeling of having experienced something reverent.

Meditative Journeys at Mindy Solomon Gallery runs February 25- March 31. The Gallery is at 124 2nd Avenue NE, St. Petersburg. 727 502-0852.

(photos courtesy of Mindy Solomon Gallery)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nancy Cervenka Exhibition at Gallery 221 @ Hillsborough Community College/Dale Mabry Campus

We’ve all pulled out the middle of price-sticker or film rolls just to see what would happen. Gulfport artist Nancy Cervenka did it and created a new art form. The USF film school graduate had a bunch of 16mm film lying around and one day began experimenting.

Creative person that she is, Nancy saw big possibilities in the curvaceous forms she was fashioning. In her hands inert film became swooping spiraling organic objects. You wonder how film can be made to conform to such graceful shapes. Stalagmites must look like this when they party.

In the early 1990’s, Nancy began exhibiting her film sculptures in outdoor art festivals and immediately won praise, awards and sales. She has won Best of Show twice at Mainsail in St. Petersburg and in 2009 scored the big one, Best of Show at Gasparilla Art Festival in Tampa. Nancy's works are included in many Bay area collections.

You can see Nancy's new work at an upcoming exhibition at Gallery 221@ Hillsborough Community College/Dale Mabry Campus. Titled "Film on Film: Nancy Cervenka," the show opens this Thursday, 5-7 pm.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hot Wax Treatment

Reflections 21, encaustic painting, Leslie Neumann

Encaustic (n.)
1. A paint consisting of pigment mixed with beeswax and fixed with heat after its application.
2. The art of painting with this substance.
3. A painting produced with the use of this substance.
[Latin encausticus, from Greek enkaustikos, from enkaiein, enkau-, to paint in encaustic : en-, in; see en-2 + kaiein, to burn.]

I first became acquainted with Leslie Neumann’s encaustic paintings in 2004, when we exhibited in adjoining galleries at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg. While not a stranger to the hot wax process, I quickly realized what deep beauty can be achieved by the hand of a master.
Leslie’s landscapes have a softness of form with layers of subtle transparency which give her compositions depth and perspective. This is painting as a window, drawing the viewer into a rich and luminous other world.

On a subsequent visit to her Aripeka home and studio, I learned more about Leslie’s exacting technique, as well as her commitment to preserving Florida’s unique wild habitats. From her third floor studio balcony, we looked out over an almost pristine coastal estuary turned golden by the setting sun. One could not ask for a more inspiring setting in which to make art.

Leslie and eight other artists using the encaustic method will be featured in “Wax: Medium Meets Message,” an exhibition at the Morean which opens this Friday, 5-7 pm with an artist’s talk at 5 pm.

Image courtesy of the artist

Monday, March 12, 2012

Art Goes For A Ride

With the opening of St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District, that city’s lively art scene has suddenly expanded westward a couple of miles. Located in a former industrial area just off 5th Ave. S. and 24th St. S., the area is home to a growing list of pioneering artists.

Like most new venues, Warehouse artists wondered, if they opened, would people come. Judging by Saturday night’s Gallery Walk turnout, the answer is a resounding yes.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to an art opening that featured rent-a-cops, roaming photographers and a live band. But the scene at Duncan McClellan’s grand glass atelier had something I’ve never seen - an Airstream trailer.

Parked across from Duncan’s, sat a vintage 24 foot tricked-out road worthy Airstream. This nostalgic beauty belongs to artists Matt and Becky Larson and is home to their newest venture, Boxfotos.

Team Larson transformed the Airstream into a cozy gallery and has quite literally taken its show on the road. Boxfotos will travel to different locations for photography exhibitions and workshops. Look for them next at the Museum of Fine Arts on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg.

photo courtesy Boxfotos

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Draw, Partner

The most difficult part of the creative process has always been getting started. In what has become standard operating procedure, I plan, I prepare, I procrastinate. I move things around the studio. Then, thankfully, it’s time for lunch.

The nay-sayers in my head must also be dealt with. They continually question my methods. “Who will buy that?” they chide. When all else fails, they wonder if I even have what it takes to make art. The eventual creation of anything becomes a blessed relief.

Now a new mental obstacle has taken up residence. Having finally begun a painting, I find myself easily distracted and unable to focus for long. I begin and immediately want to end. It is a curious and unsettling state, as if my thought process has condensed like a Twitter tweet.

As a way of coping with this condition, I have fallen back on an old friend – gesture drawing. This brush-drawing method challenges me to say the most with the least. It is art-making pared down to its essential structure. What is begun is quickly finished. My concern is no longer “What do I say?” but “Have I said too much?”