Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vessels, Myths & Muses at Jai Gallery - by M.W.Kimmel

March's third thursday art stroll event in downtown Orlando was especially entertaining this month.  My particular favorite stop was Jai Gallery located in the Exchange Building on Garland Avenue.  Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon, director of Jai, put together Vessels, an impressive solo exhibit of work by Barbara Sorensen.  Monumental sculptures, pedestal pieces and wall works of clay were assembled to showcase her talents.  She describes her work this way, "I build in layers, stacking and joining the clay as I move upward to create layers of antiquity, layers of time, and layers of myself. Petrified ghosts and seas of ancient years are recorded as the process drapes the landscape. I let the sculpture lead me where it should go."

The art and curiosity was too much for Pandora.
Photo (c) Jeffrey Hoffman.
Those layers of antiquity and seas of ancient years also lead Coralie and Josh Garrick to be inspired by the collection.  They saw in them a chance to incorporate Sorensen's clay and metal sculptures into a retelling of one of histories most well known adventures in Homer's The Iliad and the Odyssey.  Like wily Odysseus, Garrick deftly navigated through the islands of geologic textured totems in the sea of the gallery floor and braved the trials of narrating the Homeric legends amidst the not so dangerous onlookers and art lovers all the while accompanied by the muses, sirens and goddesses from DiDonna Productions and Empty Spaces Theatre Co.

Experience a voyage through the showcase of sculpture on an odyssey of various Greek myths yourself this coming Saturday, April 6th at Jai Gallery, 101 S. Garland Ave, Suite 101, Orlando, Florida.  Josh will be narrating a family friendly performance of Myths and Muses at 1:00 pm.  Barbara Sorensen's pieces will be on display throughout the month.

Julio Sanchez at the “Walk Through Gallery” review by Herb Pleiman Jr.

On a recent, beautiful spring day I gathered a number of my more aesthetically inclined friends.  I invited them on a walk to the downtown Church Street Station area of Orlando, to view an exhibit of works by the artist, Julio Sanchez at the “Walk Through Gallery.”

I love observing people's reactions to art; and am always fascinated to hear what they have to say.

When seeing Julio's work, the extroverts among my friends, expressed their opinions without restraint.  My more reflective and introverted friends, required some drawing out.  I quietly watched their examing stares, and afterward, with some sincere questioning, got them to share their honest thoughts and reactions.

I was pleased in that they were curious, engaged, and thoroughly drawn into the creative world of Julio Sanchez; taking time to study and comment on various little details that caught their eye.  For several of the works, the reaction was strong and immediate.

Encountering Julio Sanchez' work is like suddenly turning a corner and stepping into the plaza of a boisterous, tropical bazaar.  Vibrant colors jump out at you; unexpected figures appear, and everywhere, new faces emerge from a visual maze of abstract forms.

The immediate impact of the work, “Marks of Hope” upon me, was akin to my reaction when seeing Edvard Munch's “The Scream” for the very first time.  And remarkably, it drew the very same responses from one of my most discerning friends, who likewise compared it to that powerful piece by Munch. 

“Marks of Hope” is a standing complex figure against a green background; and is surrounded by words of great import for the artist.  But it is the immediate and visceral response to the figure that makes this such a stunning piece.

Mr. Sanchez love of music is communicated time and again, in the motif of a guitar.  It plays prominently in his blue-toned work, “Music for the city ” since it captures the soothing and beautiful nature of that instrument, and even more, the tones of blue, embody the spirit of life in a city.

These particular pieces by Mr. Sanchez, are not the pastoral, quiet images of some idyllic rural countryside.  These works are those of a person, grabbing the very pulse of life, the blood, the red marrow, and thrusting it onto a canvas.  It is that sort of spontaneous desire to capture an intense immediate impression and vision; to freeze it raw and live, before it ever has a chance to fade or escape, that make Julio Sanchez' work so remarkable.

It is easy to see how this artist was inspired by kindred spirits, like Picasso and Basquiat, because those painters too, intuited the power and vitality of the primitive image and form.

Sanchez' works embody the warm blooded spirit of a man, born in Puerto Rico and growing up in the vibrant Dominican Republic.  It is no surprise Sanchez identifies with his link to Taino heritage, the indigenous Indians of that region, that he should so completely intuit the power and imagery of an early culture.  We see this understanding in his recurring motif's of the hand and the face, two of the most expressive and communicative aspects of the human body.

It is perhaps, the somewhat tragic fate of the Tainos people which is best captured in a more complex and detailed work, “I was born Artist I.”  

I for one, could not help but be drawn into that piece since it hinted of some far deeper understanding of a culture long ago crushed and lost.

What I look forward to seeing in his future works, is where Mr. Sanchez takes his current interest in mixed media forms.  Are we about to witness a more sculptural turn and treatment of his artistic creations?  If so, that could prove quite exciting.

This is not the sort of artist, to be overlooked and ignored.  Nor is this the sort of man, one would ever find settling in, to some comfortable and repetitive style.  It is the work of an explorer and adventurer.  It is a person you expect to surprise you, and challenge you.  Above all, Mr. Sanchez does not care what you think of his art, but instead listens only to the voice of his inner Muse.  He paints directly from his heart, and he most certainly paints with passion.

Herbert Pleiman Jr. is an artist, sculptor, writer and dentist currently residing in Orlando, FL.  He signs his own abstract works under the pseudonym, CHEN.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

“He, She, We” the solo and collaborative works of Brenda Heim and Doug Hays Lake Eustis Museum of Art

What happens when you mix a calligrapher with a blacksmith? Well, when the sparks settle down, you have a show that is simultaneously spiritual, stimulating and stunning. “He, She, We,” featuring the solo and collaborative work of Doug Hays and Brenda Heim, is at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art from March 8 through April 28, 2013.  

Hays, a sculptor, began his career as a skilled craftsman and emerged as a sensitive metal artist who pushes his medium, making steel seem as if it flows on the wisps of wind.  His respect for his medium is evident.  He explains that metal is tortured from its original state to be slick and shiny, then rusts and drips downward, seeking its return to the earth. He manages to put lightness and humor into the steel, all the while creating a tension between the material and its message. 

Working with fire and its transformative power is what initially drew Hays to the medium.  His large scale works can be seen throughout Florida, but here, outdoors at the museum, they are more personal and accessible. 

Indoors, Hays has presented the equine form in a totally new light. Horses, riddled with negative space and with manes flowing in their imagined gallop, pique the imagination and spirit.

Heim, an abstract expressionist painter for more than twenty years, was encouraged to step beyond her small calligraphic pieces and go big. She approached the large white field and let the movement pour through her entire body, embracing the active, motion painting that has become her artistic signature.

Her work, richly based in the Asian sensibility, is large scale and free, combining  classical materials with an avant-garde sense of adventure. The works seem to emanate from a place deep within her, as though they call to her for a visual voice. 

There is a decidedly spiritual Zen quality to her work. Using broad brush strokes with sumi ink and acrylics, the enso form is present in much her work. The enso, or circle, is considered  an expression of the moment ... when the mind is empty and free to simply let the body/spirit create. Heim paints in the moment which seems to serenade her with a song that only she can hear, but one that enjoys a visceral presence through her hand. When she approaches a canvas she does so with an open mind and the inspiration, which she says sometimes is a great growl,  sometimes louder than others, rises within and through her, pulling her to the canvas.
Spirituality imbues the solo works of both these artists, but, it is their collaborative work that drives each to a new level. Together, Heim and Hays have created a body of work that is simultaneously divergent and connected. There is a tension in the juxtaposition of their respective medium, yet there is undeniable harmony. Heim’s enso form, loose and free, gets new energy in steel under Hays’ talented hand. One has to wonder how something so delicate can be so powerful. But, that is the magic of their collaborative work. 

Their collaboration extends beyond their studio work as they invite viewers into the process of creating art for public places. Collaboration under their artistic eyes took them to the classroom, where they worked with fourth grade students, their teacher, and other professionals in creating from concept to completion, a sculpture that will have a permanent home at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art. This project was generously sponsored by Quammen Healthcare Consultants and First Green Bank.

It has been said that art does not exist without the viewer. If that is the case, then give life to these works by seeing them at Lake Eustis Museum of Art. 

“He, She, We” runs through April 28, 2013 at the Lake Eustis Museum of Art. Located at 1 West orange Avenue, Eustis, Florida. Lake Eustis Museum of Art (LEMA), is beautifully situated overlooking Lake Eustis, adjacent to Ferran Park. Admission is suggested $5.00 donation. For information, please call 352-483-2900

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.

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