Sunday, February 17, 2013

Coeur d’Amour: Donna Dowless’ Heart and Soul Exhibition at Grand Bohemian Gallery by Chloe J. Roberts

“[L]ove is a way of life.  Love is caring and sharing and being patient.  It is feeling responsibilities to yourself and to others to love and be’s the greatest gift of all.” – Donna Dowless
One thing I love even more than art itself is an interesting artist’s biography.  All artists typically   have interesting backgrounds, but some more interesting than others--hence, businesswoman and self-taught contemporary artist Donna Dowless.  She has been rightfully nicknamed by the City of Orlando as The Ambassador of Love. 

Picasso mainly painted nudes and still lives.  Warhol painted flowers and faces.  These artists transformed the way the world looks and the way we look at the world.  Donna Dowless paints hearts and transforms the city through her paint brush and canvas.  A vast selection of her magnificent creations are on exhibit now at Grand Bohemian Gallery. If you have not already been to Heart and Soul, get ready for a treat!    

On opening night Donna Dowless absolutely packed Grand Bohemian Gallery from wall to wall with collectors savoring the moment while discussing their lust with her as an artist and extolling her work.  The gallery was filled with many local artists and collectors and the energy was explosive.  Many galleries and art spaces tend to be palatial or stuffy.  Heart and Soul Exhibition at Grand Bohemian was more like a social club oozing with creativity that lasted all night.  This boutique celebration did not fail.  I was so impressed with the art, the gallery and the crowd it drew, that I will never miss a future Donna Dowless exhibition.   

Donna Dowless’ art is the perfect complement to any collection.  Her canvases are painted using layers of color washes, acrylics, oil pastels and translucent glazes.  The hearts painted in her works are representative of an invitation to viewers to visualize special moments in their own lives.  Sometimes art is not necessarily all about the handcraft, but it is more about transmission of a feeling the artist has experienced.  Heart and Soul at Grand Bohemian is about love.  Love in the highest degree.  Love from Donna Dowless in her work and love from the people in the gallery enjoying her vibrant creations. 

I enjoyed the Heart and Soul Exhibition so much that I have returned to see it twice now.  Each time I enter the Grand Bohemian Gallery, there are still many people enjoying the art.  Not as many as on opening night, but enough so that you will be in good company. 

Chloe J. Roberts is from Miami.  She is a lawyer, art writer/critic, essayist and playwright.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Serious Whimsy of Laura Connaughton at The University Club Winter Park by Fern Matthews

"The Serious Whimsy of Laura Connaughton”

The University Club of Winter Park
February 10 - 27, 2013

Passing the terra cotta fountains and neatly trimmed gardens of The University Club of Winter Park, one has the feeling of entering another time and place, as if traveling back to a time of elegance in the tropics. As the French doors swing open into the main salon, you are transported to the world of Laura M. Connaughton. This is a world reminiscent of Rousseau and Kahlo, yet mixed with the magic of OZ. This is “The Serious Whimsy of Laura Connaughton,” February 10 through 27.

Connaughton has created a body of work that is curiously engaging and well crafted, and at the same time, humorous and fanciful. It is often said that primates are the closest relative to man, and Connaughton has captured a deep sense of feeling and humanity in her paintings. These, however, are not your run-of-the-mill monkeys. Indeed, they seem to capture a universal sensitivity that is,,,well,,, human-like. The playful mind of the artist toys with the viewer, and upon closer inspection, one realizes that these are winged monkeys... her tribute to the magic of OZ.

The fun continues in “Ode to Frida,” a self-portrait that is a tongue-in-cheek visual ode to Frida Kahlo; “Exotic Treat,” highlights the artist’s skill while transporting the viewer to possibly Old Havana; and, the entire family of strangely familiar characters round out a delightful exhibition.

Someone once told me that the truest review occurs on your way home in the car. Hemingway, Amelia Earhart, Raffles, leather and tropics, adventure and old world charm...these are the icons that came to mind. While these paintings, rich in imagery from an expert hand, evoke  a sense of exoticism, the subjects themselves will certainly find a place in your heart. 

“The Serious Whimsy of Laura Connaughton” is exactly that: thoughtful fun. 

Laura Connaughton Fine Art & Design
studio: 321-226-8725

by Fern Matthews
Fern Mathews is a mixed media artist recognized for her textural work and use of color. Matthews’ work is included in both public and private art collections throughout the country and The Caribbean, and shows in New York and New Orleans.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Works of Orlando Artist Cat Snapp Featured in Fort Worth Exhibition

The Works of Orlando Artist Cat Snapp Featured in Fort Worth Exhibition,
“Stitchings”, at the Fort Worth Community Art Center through February 23.

“Stitchings”, an exhibition curated by Elaine Taylor, highlights the works of five national
artists who utilize stitched thread in their art as mark-making. This show holds a lens to
works that blend the traditional processes of drawing and sewing, birthing textural
mixed-media works that bridge the gap between the popularized notions of fine art and
craft techniques.
The series of six works on paper titled “No More Unsolicited Advice From Anyone” by
Orlando artist Cat Snapp constructs a sense of deep space by toying with a variety of
contrast between line and texture. A haze of indiscernible, hand-written text captures the
viewer’s eye, with the natural pretense that perhaps there is something legible left to
read. The writing then melts into the background and is masked by washes of color and
the deckled edges of collage. This familiar content introduces us to the work, but what
holds us there is the movement generated between the textural collage materials and
the fine lines of intricate stitching. Their shapes mimic each other; both are winding and
irregular.There is a rhythm in this series, created by their unified scale, shape, and
palette, as well as their shared serial imagery. Though uncluttered, these works
maximize the amount of movement that is practical within pieces of their size.
These works are certainly small in comparison to many others featured in the show.
However, this series exemplifies the truism of “strength in numbers”. Hung in tight
formation, Snapp’s nonobjective works mimic a stitched line across the white of the wall.
Such a clean presentation may have been the result of decisions made beyond Snapp’s
reach, but juxtaposed against her misty and chaotic works, this orientation only
reinforces Snapp’s mastery of form.

Artists: Candace Hicks, Polly Perez, Nicole Foran, Cat Snapp and David Willburn
Focus II Gallery
Fort Worth Community Arts Center
1300 Gendy Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Exhibit runs January 4 – February 23, 2013

Reviewed by Laura H. Drapac (

I met Cat Snapp in Orlando at a critique one evening and was madly taken by her art.We do hope you enjoy our roving OAR by Laura H. Drapac.
Robin Maria Pedrero