Friday, May 6, 2011

Brava @ Salt Creek Artworks, Part II

Kim Radatz, "Wishful Thinking"

I reviewed Kim Radatz' "Wishful Thiking" about six months ago. It took my breath away then and now. It is a ghostly white boat buoyed up by a small crystalline mound of rock salt around its perimeter. She describes the salt as that "... from shedded tears, both happy and sad, that keep the vessel buoyant for the journey ahead.". Written over every bit of the boat are the words "Wishful Thinking". The interior of the boat is filled with small origami-like paper fortune tellers, the kind children play with. It should be noted that photographing a white object is difficult, and the picture provided doesn't do it justice. In person, the whole thing glows. To take a three-dimensional work like this in, I make it a practice to walk 360 degrees around it to acquire a fuller, holographic image of the piece.

Kim Radatz, "Wishful Thinking", top view into boat.

There is no ferryman, nor oar locks nor oars on this conceptual boat. It doesn't need any. The waters it crosses are inside us, and the power that drives it is written all over it. It ferries scores of fortune tellers, each having within it a plurality of potential fortunes, not just one. The words, fortune tellers, boat, salt, the entire gestalt of it key into one's personal experience, unlock and release intense thoughts, memories and feelings, and suddenly you realize where this boat is taking you.

[As with many artists, motifs & themes  reappear in Ms. Radatz's work. The boat is also depicted in small form, in the lower right hand corner of a flat piece]

Kim Radatz, "Out on a Limb"

Kim Radatz describes this as a continuation of her Dress series, here with the form removed. "Like cast-off tattooed bits of skin, these pieces tell the story long after the moment has passed".  This work embodies some of Ms. Radatz' signature strategies, like the sinuous, carefully placed and sometimes gathered tendrils dangling from inside the frame and beyond it. Sometimes they suggest the passage of time and/or story lines. And it doesn't end there, because the artist utilizes not only the space below the confines of the frame, but the floor as well. These can be considered small installations. In another work, she's put the correct-size stones below a dress about a woman killed by being stoned to death, with blood-red tendrils/threads cascading unto them, In another, a mound of eggs below a dress suggesting fertility over time, ideas, and more.  These works literally reach out towards the viewer, to the extent of defining minimum viewing distance. And there's something to the duality of the vertical and horizontal planes and their symbology that the artist is utilizing in a very subtle way.
  In "Out on a Limb", there is an outline of a young girl dressed in an aqua dress in a typical pose for a girl that age. Below her feet is a line from which the black threads emerge, and below that, nine songbirds are perched on a limb. To the left is a series of dots in a pattern, and below the number "9" in the style of a stencil. Soon one notices there are nine birds out on the limb, and the girl appears to be nine years old as well.  Follow the threads down to the floor and there are many more birds lying there. About the same as the number of years in a long human lifespan.

Kim Radatz, "Out on a Limb", detail.

Kim Radatz, "Out on a Limb", detail.

Lyla Haggard, "Missing Pear"

Lyla Haggard's art education is varied and extensive, but her artist's life took a back seat to a long stint in the corporate world before re-emerging. On her website, she says she took the advice often given to writers to write about what they know. Her work lives in the shimmering boundary layer between the inner and outer worlds.

One several strengths that comes across in her work is an unusual fluency in color. She told me at this opening: "I'm a colorist", but I had already noticed from looking at her paintings.
  To Ms. Haggard, color is hardly incidental, but an integral, essential part of the work, as much content as it is form. In "Missing Pear", we have three whole pears, one green, two ripe, one cut in half, and on the middle a bright orange-red pear. One of the ripe ones is lying down, sensuously, looking like a zaftig odalisque [Link]. The one cut in half on the left has a distinct vaginal form in its center. Like all the other pears -- except the central one -- it border on and goes beyond the edges of the frame. The central glowing in a deeply passionate orange, unnatural, and a block of color, with no depth, almost a silhouette or cut-out of a pear. I felt an intense sense of longing in this work.

Lyla Haggard, "Ya gotta love yourself"

On the left is Lyla Haggard's "Ya Gotta Love Yourself" . The figure and color in this (and at least one other work at the show) is Gauguin-esque. The hands caress the body in sensual, but explicitly non-sexual spots. Self-love and self-esteem seem to be the dominant theme, though I couldn't help but notice that two of the hands (below the breast and on the thigh) have very different skin tones than the hands of the main figure. Tightly framing the figure is a red outline that speaks of femininity and rebirth.

Lyla Haggard, "Infinity"

Ms. Haggard also works in painted clay (polychrome) sculpture. On the left is "Infinity". A bust of a man with an apple alighting on his forehead, the look on his face one of enlightenment and revelation. The allusion to Newton is inescapable.
Lyla Haggard, "Infinity", rear detail

On the top of the back of the figure, as seen in the detail picture, is an infinity sign. This work sold on opening night.

I believe the title of this painting by Lyla Haggard is something like "Olympia's Torso at 44". Manet's Olympia is a well-known seminal painting [Link] when it was painted, and a wellspring of inspiration for artists to this day. Here Ms. Haggard has painted her in middle age. This brings to mind issues of beauty and aging. What makes a beautiful baby? A beautiful four year old? Eleven year old? Eighteen? Thirty? Fourty-four? This painting leads me to think beauty is not a fixed quality, but like everything that lives, in constant transformation.

Congratulations to Salt Creek Artworks for the Brava show. To Brava, what an amazing, talented and productive group you are. An indy powerhouse presence in the area.

--- Luis

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your wonderful words, Luis! And thanks also for all you do for the arts in the area. You are doing a wonderful thing and I want you to know that you are appreciated.

    Make room for Wishful Thinking. Some day......