Sunday, August 26, 2012

Wicked Games @ C. Emerson Fine Arts

C. Emerson Fine Arts (CEFA) is back from its Summer hiatus with a mixed media group exhibit, showing Douglas Bosley, Carolina Cleere, Neverne Covington, Wendy Dickinson, Ron Francis, Donna Haynes, Doreen Horn, Betsy Lester, ras+e, Saori, and Allison Sommers.

Wicked Games is the title from a Chris Isaak song. Here it is the conceptual Dark Matter nucleus around which this exhibit formed. The ratcheted Falls from the idealism of youth and inexperience, tidal tugs of war between selfishness and love, primal urges, the realities of being and becoming and more. Most were playful, with healthy helpings of  humor and irony, which serve to foil the underlying trying transitions the show addresses. 

 This show includes established local artists as well as strong emerging ones, though they are hardly new kids on this block.The latter have a long CV of exhibits in other local venues and solid academic credentials.

Anonymous, "Nevermore"
The tag by Anonymous's work tells us that it was inspired by "Depth of color, texture, line quality and animal persona...".  On the left is "Nevermore", a negative of what is presumably the figure of a raven in a field of lines. Gouache, thread, ink, and graphite were used in this work. The effect of the white raven and the energized crosshatching behind it and more lightly over the bird give an illusion of layering and emergence, of something caught in a greater matrix. The title harkens back to that "ominous bird of yore" of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", where it helps to further the protagonist's sense of loss and self-deprecation. Like despairing protagonist, we are looking at this white raven.

Saori, "Connect the Dots"

On the left is one of a series of three works by Saori titled: "Connect the Dots". Described as "mixed media on wood", there's a green eye on a blue background, with red slashes across. In the explanatory tag, the artist mentions the lessons of childhood, particularly the one about playing with sharp objects, losing an eye, and how we resist learning them. The red lines suggest that, and how these things stay with us and tint our lives. In the lower third of the circle are unconnected white dots on a black field. They go from 1-168. Why 168 unconnected dots? Among many other things, it is the number of hours in a week. They are arranged in a jagged line whose upper peaks more or less coincide with where the lower ends of the red lines meet the black field.

Neverne Covington, "You're going to be the death of me."

Adults say some hard-sounding things to children, like the title of the work at left: "You're going to be the death of me". This is part of a series of work by Neverne Covington titled "The Sisters Grimm". Allusions to the Brothers Grimm's collection of fairy tales elicit instant connections. There are several characters based on these idioms. This is not a simple monosemic work, but it resonates between what is said, and the child's reaction to it. The scalar distortion of the head (too big for the body/limbs) serves to accentuate the intricate facial expression, which seems to be simultaneously rejecting what is said, and being impacted by it. Note the subtle colors and how they symbolically connect the figure to creativity and sensousness (and more). Note the shoes on the girl's feet. The stern admonition is echoed in the way the big cat the girl is holding has its claws out and attention fixed upon the mouse on the floor, generating an entrancing secondary version of this. Here we see the the duality involved in such a threat, in this case a literal one. It raises the question of relational perspective. Innocence dissolving, recombining into our personal identity/ foundation myths.

Allison Sommers, "Playing Possum"

"Playing Possum", by Allison Sommers, shows something we are all familiar with: The familiar marsupial's tactic of playing dead. It is not mixed media but graphite on paper exquisitely rendered into a fairy tale tableaux. The figure of the creature is surrounded by toadstools and lies on a coffin-shaped form. Is it dead, or just fooling us? Plus we do this, too.

Doreen Horn, "No Nothing"

Doreen Horn is one of those artists that approaches work in an eclectic manner. In a world where marketing dictates obviously stylistic consistency to facilitate sales, Doreen's genius is that she can stylistically individuate her work, yet her persistence of vision makes it recognizably her own. In "No Nothing", at left, two small figures, one of which appears to talk at the other, leaning in its direction, while the second one looks down. The listener has an emotional red thought bubble that is riddled with razor blades.

Congratulations to all the artists and Lori Johns for a very good show. The hours for the gallery have changed. Check here [Link]. The closing reception is on Saturday, Sept. 8th, from 3-6 PM. All at 909 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.

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