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Sunday, November 14, 2010

2nd Saturday Artwalk

Midtown never ceases to amaze me. Tonight's artwalk was filled with characters and incredible artists of all sorts. I started at the Maiya Gallery and found an interesting solo show by Craig Smith. The main gallery was filled with roughly textured paintings of letters and color. It reminded me of playing with words as a child, beautifully shading the letters with my thick wax crayons. One little thing I found particularly interesting about these pieces was their construction. Upon close examination of several oil paintings, I found screw heads jutting out of the surface, right there in the midst of thick strokes.  The imperfectness of it, I guess, is what struck me.

My next stop was the Union Hall Gallery, which I'd never been to! It's a lovely little gallery on the 2nd floor of a classic Victorian. Mary Kercher (a beautiful painter from my Muse Monday art group) was exhibiting in a group show exploring the human figure. Her work always stuns me. Her self portrait meets you eye to eye as you walk in the front door.

             "Between Depth & Surface"                                     "Human Reign"

I love how free her work is. The colors seem to rupture from their transitions, sweeping the eye along harsh lines broken by strokes resembling fog. Her self portrait rivets you in the directness of its gaze. "Human Reign," she told me "was created after doing yoga." She just sits down to paint and lets it flow from her hand. The brush takes her where it wants to go.

The group show was "Human Expressed" so obviously there were a couple other figurative artists exhibiting work.

                                                 "Zero Attention Span"

Matthew Bird's drawings are more like wall sculptures, with their three dimensional elements stretching and bending beyond the frame. Up close, it's all just a dancing, swirling, delicate line of pencil. Lovely. And a young artist to boot! He's my age :)

Moving on to the Art Complex, now known as the 2110 Gallery after its beautiful renovation into a open gallery space, I stumbled upon an artist that made me giggle and prance and even tempt me to climb a cactus to make a vulture wiggle. Well not a real cactus. Or bird. It was a ten foot tall sculpture made of looped rebar studded with screws for thorns and atop sat a mama vulture, also made of twisted metal and springs, her head and legs drooping and bowing with the slightest breeze to feed her anxiously awaiting baby. The imagination and humor and well crafted use of recycled metal parts was refreshing. I'm hitting myself that I didn't think to take a photo, even one of the giant tortoise with round saw blades for shell plates would have been such a treasure to post. But I must admit that Stephen Cook's company name just says it all: Bubba's Garden Art.

There are so many artists in the art complex, it'd be impossible to mention them all. Most of them are working artists, photographers, painters, sculpors, etc. paying rent (mostly) for the foot traffic of this one night a month. There was one artist upstairs that made me linger over her symbolic drawings. Doracy's art works with archetypes. She told me her art speaks to her, tells her what should be done or even which direction it should hang (which of course changes depending on the available wall space). Her black canvases are scraped with whatever she can find: pens, nails, steel wool... interlacing gorgeous white marks with sweeps of form making gesture. All abstract of course. But I see an eye and what looks like a goat, and a manta ray poisoning someone with it's long tail? Very much like an intensely detailed Rorscach test. And no wonder. Doracy spent her life in psychology. We got to talking and it turns out she lived at the Cite Universitaire, the exact same housing complex I lived in back in 2003 in Paris! Such a small world connection. Next month, she's returning to France to work an art internship for a year. When she told me, I could feel the angst of my own wanderlust grabbing at my legs. What's stopping me from going too?

But as I began the 12 block trek home all I could do was grin wildly into the wind. There was no way the chill could withstand my stride as I sorted through the last 3 hours of the artwalk. I was high on all the creations I'd seen, the quarky artists I'd talked to, just feeling apart of this artistic community. Maybe that's why I'm still here: there's too many great things happening in Midtown to leave... just yet.