Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brava @ Salt Creek Artworks Part I

Brava is a group of women artists that have been meeting over a decade. The name came from the location of the members, originally in the Brandon-Valrico area, thus Brava. The members, Candace Knapp, Kim Radatz, Margaret Conte, Carolina Cleere, Lyla Haggard and Phyllis McEwen are currently showing at Salt Creek Artworks.

Margaret Conte, "I can handle the seasons"

Margaret Conte's "I can handle the seasons" is a small mixed media sculpture composed of a gabled-roof, house-like wooden structure, divided into two compartments. In the lower larger rectangular space two-thirds of the way up along the back 'wall' is a bronze (?) female torso, reminiscent of neolithic statuettes, though far slimmer. Below, a blanched bone. In the 'attic' space above, a piece of what looks like driftwood, and nestled in it, a pearl. To me, the bone is more than mortality, perhaps memory. The torso is the main, the body... the pearl in the driftwood a gift, a hope, an ideal form from the feminine sea, the driftwood a metaphor for one's life journey. She knows she can handle the seasons...she has, and will.

Margaret Conte sculptures at Salt Creek

On the right are more of Margaret Conte's sculptures, these are larger and some are more whimsical than the one above.

Phyllis McEwen, "One Possible Explanation

Phyllis Mc Ewen's work is liberatingly colorful, bringing to mind batik and quilt-like hues. "One Possible Explanation" consists of two different color patchwork fields, parted like curtains, the one to the viewer's right more fragmented, on the left, less so on the right, yet there's no rigidity in either. In the parting space are horizontal stripes or levels, and at the bottom, like a revelation, two sprigs of what looks like grain.

Candace Knapp, "Birthday"

 Candace Knapp has been a sculptor for a long time. From the works in this exhibit, she loves wood as a medium -- and vice versa. And she is also a painter. In her artists' statement she says "I collect the images that float across the surface of my mind during meditation...".  That connection with the subconscious is clear throughout her work. In the painting on the left, "Birthday", there is an ethereal feel to the work, what with the undulating green grass-like forms, one turning into a bird's head, the human form, nascent, emergent, full of promise.
Candace Knapp, small part of sculptural installation

There was a large installation of plant and animal sculptures, all fantastic, graceful, and very dreamlike.

Carolina Cleere, "Me Before You"

[The first thing I need to say about "Me before you", is that the picture does not do it justice. The lighting was hot-spotted, There is no fall-off in the original, and it has exquisitely modulated pinks that this picture doesn't convey]

I have been following Carolina Cleere's work for years and was pleased to see the new works in this show. "Me before you" is an ambiguous title. One way, it can be taken to mean the artist revealing herself before us. In the other, it can be the artist temporally before experiencing/knowing us.  Either way, she is in the form of a child with gray hair (and gray/silver figures prominently in this image, to the ribbon and even the gorgeous frame) encircled by a garland of flowers. She is innocent and partially naked, showing prepubescent breasts. Strung above the figure is a French Neo-Classicist-looking  ribbon held up by hummingbirds, with a bow at the center, from which dangle some repeating themes in Cleere's imagery: Ferns, dragonflies, fawns, and in the center, a key. In works like this, that are to a large degree very carefully controlled mixed media,  it is safe to assume there's nothing in the frame that is by accident or inconsequential. Doubly so because Carolina used to be a photojournalist of some renown, and she brings that same devotion and concern for humankind & the truth to her art. She is wearing a knotted necklace. Knots in mythology have been used to capture the wind and/or as a way of encoding events. At the center is a cameo of a dragonfly. Below it a frog. Below that what looks like roots. Think about this...the dragonfly, air, the frog amphibious, water and land, the roots, the world below. The figure is vulnerable but strong. She is 
awaiting your move.

Carolina Cleere, "The Stillness Surrounding George"

This picture is, among a lot of other things, an homage a Diane Arbus [Link], a photographer Ms. Cleere cites as her "biggest influence" and a pivotal turning point in her life path. The title refers to George W. Bush. The artist first found a cologne bottle shaped like the earth, and went on to visualize the grenade. Note the figure is wearing a dunce cap. A bird brings him a yellow flower, which I would bet has meaning besides what it looks like. The danse macabre of the little skeletons around the figure could be taken to stand for the war dead. Do not mistake this for a mere politically critical statement, this is a complex picture of GWB, with plenty of compassion. The artist saw Oliver Stone's "W", and was moved by the President's predicament with his father.

Detail of above image

__End, Part I__

1 comment:

  1. Luis, I so enjoyed your review of the Brava show, both parts I and II. I'm partial to these women because I was a charter member of Brava and have since left the area. You gave me a wonderful visual of the show and for that I thank you!