Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Observations on The Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime @ C. Emerson Fine Arts

[On January 13th, I posted here on Kant's (and others') ideas on the Beautiful and the Sublime to help prepare gallery goers -- and myself -- for the current show at C. Emerson Fine Arts. ]

"The sublime moves, the beautiful charms."

Lori Johns chose this minimal and concise Kant quote for her introduction to the show.

There are thirteen artists shown, their works in a wide variety of media.Normally I would focus on the work of three or four, but this time will touch briefly on half the artists.

[In reverse alphabetical order...]

Joe Walles' personal work is focused on what he calls "the unadulterated moment", photographing in a classic spontaneous manner, using black-and-white film, Leicas, making his own chemical prints. In this show there's a print  titled (if memory serves) Saint Augustine Gate, showing an old, weathered gate to a garden or backyard, surrounded by impenetrable shadows with a sliver of a house on the left side of the print. The feel is that approach-avoidance thing we encounter when nearing a rite of passage.

It was a dictionary definition of "sublime" that led Doug Sutherland to his interpretation of the theme. He has been working with a figure he calls Robo-Christ, a Deus-Machina figure with a kind of postmodern cargo-cult attendant myth. The artist chose to use the definition of water going from a solid (ice) to gas (vapor) without undergoing the transitional state of water. AT has seen his work before at CEFA and the Scarfone/Hartley gallery at UT.

See his work here.

Rebecca Skelton sculpts, paints and draws. She has drawings in this show, moving, expertly rendered drawings of truncated, mostly feminine figures. They are like incomplete grotesques. Click here to see a slide show.

Daniel Mrgan is a Croatian-born illustrator, well-known for his wood-burning art, particularly his """Sick Days"   series, shown last year at CEFA. In this exhibit, he has a wood-burning of an elderly couple sitting on a bench, grown into each other, the woman's arm wrapped around the man's. Mrgan has an ability to simultaneously focus on the body while transcending it.

Patrick Maxcy is a Floridian working out of a Ft. Lauderdale studio. He has five small, direct and engaging paintings in this show, each of a woman friend, depicted with an animal. I got the feeling that the animals could be a nagual.

Human exploitation gone viral is a central theme of Michael Massaro's work. His mixed media piece in this show is a fixture-like vertical round ceramic base with a rubber hose attached to it, and from the open lower end of that hose, dry, dead grass flows. See here.

Patrick Lindhardt is an instructor at Ringling and printer, who at one time printed projects for Dine and Rosenquist. His panoramic-format prints in this show are of the American prairie. There are haystacks in black and white before a gathering storm in the background. Two tornadoes in different images, one black and ominous, the other almost spiritual, beautiful -- and in its own way, ominous. Another is of a storm and on the right, a bit of a water tank. The sfumato feeling in the one with the dark tornado is exquisite. See here.

Dan Lassata, who besides being a painter is a skateboarder and golf pro, began drawing and painting at an early age in his native new Hampshire, sometimes using skateboards as his canvas. AT saw his first local show back in 11/10 at the Kahwah cafe. He cites as influences Kandinsky, Shel Silverstein, M.C. Escher and Thomas Campbell. His work in this show has to do with the energies that surrounds us.

Kyle (that's it for his name) has works from a series titled "Pretty Catastrophes", exploring how relatively small incidents can have significant, large-scale consequences (see Chaos Theory). He has a piece along the wall of the CEFA gallery facing the front window that has multiple points of view, ergo perspectives of different scenes. This is very much like religious medieval paintings that told Bible stories in a near-comic-book fashion, minus the frames. Kyle's, unlike medievals', is commutative, and visually reads like hypertext. You can start anywhere and make your own path, thread, and/or story through it.

Mia Kaplan's paper sculptures are unusual and captivating. It took me a little contemplation to grasp their unbridled passions, and it was well worth it. They are simultaneously delicate-looking, yet strong. Evolving, unfolding, and expanding -- like life. See here.

Relief prints of tree rings as metaphors for life make for moving prints in the work of  Wendy Dickinson, PhD. She teaches Visual Mathematics at Ringling. She co-curated a show with Patrick Lindhardt at the Centre Gallery in 2010. These prints are a wonderful mix of the graphic and the organic. 

 UT professor Gil de Meza's sculpture in this show is a gold-ish ceramic rectangle with a cream circle in it with a bit of blue. At the bottom of which is what looks like s broken off spigot (?)  Atop the rectangle is a blue form wrapped in gauze and twine.

Neverne Covington showed a pair of small, beautifully lyrical paintings about a symbiosis between reality and the imagination. The two works come across like a dyptich. I hope they get to stay together.

Raina Benoit has been working on a new American Gothic. In her own words, "a grotesque that grows from complexity, how well everything has worked so far". Two Ravens, a manatee floating with multiple levels of water below, and a human heart with clogged pipes around it. As Ms. Benoit has on her website

“In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.
I see much reality in the imagination.” -- Federico Fellini


David Audet is a seminal figure in the Tampa arts scene who works at HCC/Ybor. He and his crew(s) put together a series of remarkable arts events on a yearly basis. In this show he has a work composed of vertically movie film strips, one minute from "The Lady and the Tramp", at an angle (think of a pointy-side-down triangle). In the space defined by its edges, hang medium-format negatives from portraits shoots of women in their sleeved pages. A commentary on the mathematical and the dynamic sublime.

--- Luis

CEFA's "Observations" is an engaging, multifaceted show wrapped around a complex theme, with many variations. Observations on The Feeling of The Beautiful and The Sublime - Thematically based on the famous book by Emmanuel Kant. A multimedia group show. C.Emerson Fine Arts Gallery, 909 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.  January 14 - March 25, 2011. For hours, call  727-898-6068 or check:

1 comment:

  1. Luis, thank you so much for this overview of the show. I was unable to see it all in person. Best Regards, Mia