Delight in Details

Delight in Details

I have been wandering through the PMA galleries marveling at the variety of ways that paint can be applied to canvas in order to create diverse effects. The Juried Exhibition from the California Art Club (Decker A & B Galleries) brings in a strong demonstration of the creative diversity that can be found within rather traditional representational painting techniques. Alongside this large group show are the works of abstract painter Marilyn Weeks & metal sculptor Wynn Garber (North & East galleries), and collage/book maker Deb Rumer (Arabella's Gallery). These three bridge the gap between the traditional 2D use of canvas space and the contemporary 2D/3D sensibility of creative abstract expansion.

When I look closely at a canvas I am looking for a sense that the surface is alive and vibrant, that a mystery is unfolding at every moment. This shows up in many ways, one of them being in a certain confidence of brush stroke. Below are canvas details taken from just a few of the many artists who successfully brought life to the surfaces of the canvases I viewed.

Tia Kratter's carefully applied watercolors reveal a mysterious vibrancy within the shadows that uplifts and illuminates the viewing experience.

The soft, luscious glazing of Maura Carta's oil surface feels so real that it has me sighing, chuckling, and wanting to ask the model to turn around. And man-o-man those shoulders...

I can almost feel the scratch of the dry brush and grasses that encroach upon my desired path forward in this detail from a Kim Lordier pastel.

This detail of an oil by Tonya Zenin can only hint at the excellent brush work applied onto this heavily painted composition. One can almost feel the salt water and crisp air that surrounded the artist as she worked at duplicating, through paint, the dynamic feeling of power that is the water crashing against rocks at Point Lobos. Even now, while looking at this digital image, I'm a little worried about my feet getting wet!

Above are just a few details from the large presentation of engaging works by the California Art Club. Now I am leaving those galleries and entering the North and East galleries. Here we find what I will fancifully call a "remarkable duet" performed by the interplay of the abstract works of painter Marilyn Weeks and her co-exhibitor, sculptor Wynn Garber.

Weeks plays with the painted designs on her 2D surface in a way that leads us forward and backwards in time and space. We then turn in surprise to see the embodiment of that movement jumping out into 3D form... the elegantly designed symbiotic sculptures of form in space by Garber. Garber's metal compositions address not only shape and form, but also color, tone, density, and texture of surface. If we stretch our minds we can imagine that Weeks and Garber are moving inside and outside the same magical circles of space. 

Arabella's Gallery may be the smallest of gallery spaces at the museum, but it can pack in a wallop, and the intricate works of Deb Rumer do this jeweled space justice. Rumer is an expert on collage and book making and with her show she explores the next step in enlivening the surface of a canvas. Not only can it be in turn 2D or 3D, it can also be read... and possibly in all different directions.

As an artist, Deb Rumer appears to be someone who follows her muse, no matter how wild and "out there" is the siren call. Here we sense the natural craziness of wild nature is tempered by the sensibility of human reflection. While Rumer's diversity of application of surface mediums and textures teach us about adventure and mystery at every turn, her juxtaposition of shapes, words, and symbols, in my view, lend a potent and contemporary commentary on our world today.

What a walk! From the traditional to the contemporary, from the simple to the complex, from the tame to the wild, from the past to the present, from one dimension to another. What will the future bring?


"PMA Heartbeat" contains the personal observations of the artist in Studio 26, and not necessarily those of PMA as a whole.



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