Mesa Center for the Arts: Monica Martinez, Carolyn Lavender, and Mary Shindell

Then Entry to the exhibit Creature, Man, Nature

The entry to the exhibit “Creature, Man, Nature.”

On Friday April 5 Superstition Review editors met with s[r] contributors Monica Martinez, Carolyn Lavender, and Mary Shindell to discuss their collaborative exhibition at Mesa Center for the Arts. The exhibition, entitled “Creature, Man, Nature,” explores the formation of bodies—animal, human, and rock—and the voices inherent in each form. When I walked into the exhibition, I was immediately struck by the size of several of the pieces on display. As Carolyn later told me, there is a certain power that comes from artwork that is as big as or bigger than oneself. This was true of Monica’s work, specifically a pair of massive paintings of the male and female forms, hence the “Man” portion of the exhibition title. Monica explained how her intensive study of human anatomy allowed for highly accurate portrayals of bodily structures, as well as a literal frame through which she could explore male and female energies. She challenges the traditional patriarchal energy by including feminine qualities in her male figure (modeled by her husband).

Monica Aissa Martinez

Monica Aissa Martinez describes her work.

Monica’s pieces, “Body Male” and “Female Body,” draw in the viewer through the visceral anatomic imagery coupled with animal figures. In her painting of a female figure, she includes a snake, which instantly brings to mind ideas of the Christian creationist mythos wherein the snake functions as an antagonistic figure. However, the female faces the snake head-on as an equal, accepting of the snake as symbolic of knowledge, rebirth, and sexual passion. Conversely, the male figure is presented with a cat between his feet, modeled by Monica’s own pet. Her husband trained the cat to walk on a leash; due to this curious skill, the cat connected Monica’s family to the rest of her community, a traditionally feminine quality exhibited in conjunction with the male form. Directly beside Monica’s human subjects, Mary’s digital art piece, “There is a Mountain” is a room-wide print of her backyard view, fashioned on the program Illustrator. 26 layers allowed for the tiny details, such as sage bushes and cacti, to be created on a mountainside of elegant color and texture. Mary had had plenty of experience with her subject, having sketched and painted South Mountain multiple times prior to attempting a digital rendition. As she said, South Mountain dominates the landscape with its sprawling hills, and the size of the print, dominating an entire wall of the exhibition room, communicated the grand scale of the mountainside well.

Mary Shindell

Mary Shindell describes her work.

Mary explained to me the meticulous process of piecing together the different components of “There is a Mountain.” The minor details, like plant life, had to be modified outside of Illustrator in another program, such as Photoshop, so as not to overtax the main image file, and would then be incorporated back into Illustrator as a repeatable symbol. In order to create a soft, rolling effect for the mountain itself, Mary used the gradient feature, which she identified to be her favorite part of the process. As a whole, the intricate and time-consuming details paid off; viewers will be amazed to see the piece both at a distance and up close. The exhibition also benefited from Mary’s input for the lighting. Hanging light sculptures emulate the cacti in Mary’s backyard, functioning as relevant sculptures for the larger mountain view.

I addressed Carolyn’s art last, having finally made my way around the exhibition room. Carolyn’s work focused on the “Creature” aspect of the exhibition title, introducing a variety of animal figures on large panels as well as smaller paper sketches and paintings. She described her love of animals to me as that of childish fascination, a love fostered in her early years and carried firmly into adulthood. Her largest piece, “Preservation Woods,” features animals sketched and painted (acrylic) from photo and taxidermy models onto 10 foam-core panels. Carolyn explained to me how long the piece took to create, requiring 8-10 hours of tracing per panel.

Carolyn Lavendar

Carolyn Lavender describes her work.

With that in mind, the raw, openness of the piece, fully compiled, hardly transmits the idea of “incomplete” or “unfinished” but of intentional invitation, drawing viewers’ eyes from the broad white expanses of the bottom panels to the detailed shadows of each animal figure. While Carolyn told me that there are still bits that she would like to work on (as with any piece of art), she was pleased with the outcome of her efforts and considered “Preservation Woods” to have been a learning experience, having never worked on so large a scale before this exhibition.

Leaving the exhibition after interviewing these three artists, I felt encouraged to pursue art myself. Each artist approached her craft in a different fashion, and this collaboration no doubt impacted those approaches. I look forward to seeing the future works of Monica, Mary, and Carolyn, and I hope that the exhibition inspires others.

The Banner

Outside the Mesa Arts Center Museum.

The exhibition “Man, Creature, Nature” is on display at the Mesa Arts Center until April 28.

 

Lucid Dreams: New Work from Rafeal Francisco Salas

Lucid Dreams, photo courtesy of Rafael Salas

If you are in Milwaukee, take time to stop by Rafael Francisco Salas’ new exhibit, Lucid Dreams.

Salas describes his inspiration for the new exhibit as an exploration of “the intersection of portraiture, representation, landscape, and architecture.” He feels that “historically these traditions elicit specific contextual and also visceral responses from viewers, and in combining or exploring them in oblique ways, new responses might arise.”

Lucid Dreams builds on Salas’ past work, which was created from an “emotional or atmospheric place […] that evoked a sense of dreams or nostalgia.” Salas worked to discover how adding new elements to his paintings would change how others reflect on them. Drawing from ideas and elements seen in small towns of the Midwest (Salas’s current home), Salas felt that “our current economic climate and position in the world has created an emotional [and] psychological key that complements themes I have previously explored.”

Presented by Portrait Society Gallery, you can see Rafael Francisco Salas’ newest creations January 20 through March 10, 2012. You can see more of Salas’ artwork in Issue 8.

 

A Visit to the Barnhart Studio

Barnhart Studio, a castle of metal and cinderblock, is tucked into a Mesa residential area. When I ring the doorbell, an unassuming man in a t-shirt opens the door: William Barnhart.

After a brief introduction, I am given a tour of the studio. William starts from the foundation of the building. From the tile work on the bathroom walls to the welding on the doors, most of the fixtures in the building are made from recycled materials, and they are all William Barnhart’s handiwork.

The very studio where William works is a reminder that art sometimes requires more than a table and chisel or paintbrush. The studio resembles a mechanic’s garage, a zone under construction, where a plaster sculpture waits to be completed. When I ask how long it takes to finish a project, William says, “It takes as long as it takes.” He shows me the swinging cranes that lift heavy materials, the giant fan he traded a painting for, and a room he is working on.

We walk and talk, and then we sit down in his office and talk about his work and about art in general. The following is a recreation of part of our conversation:

Superstition Review: Have you worked with art galleries?

William Barnhart: I did for a time, but not anymore. Art galleries insulate the artist from the clients, because if the client and the artist are communicating, there really is no need for the art gallery. I like the communication with my clients. I can put my studio down anywhere, and my clients will come to me.

SR: That’s true, you have an actual client-artist relationship. What kind of mediums and materials do you work with?

WB: I do prints, paintings, sculpture. I like working with bronze, making sculptures. You know, bronze, it’ll be around for generations.

SR: I read that the sculpture you recently finished has gold on it. Do you think the value of the materials you use adds something to your work?

WB: I definitely want to use quality materials in my work. It’s not necessarily the value of the materials but the quality of them.

SR: I know some artists try to make social commentary with their art. What would you say is the message you are trying to convey with your art?

WB: Social commentary is definitely not the focus of my work. I want my art to be universal, to transcend the bounds of time. It’s more about relationship issues, about human emotions and the drama of the figure. It’s about the human experience.

We discuss other things, such as his creative process and why he chose that particular area to place his studio. But when I take leave of William Barnhart, print-maker, designer, painter, sculptor—with “more stripes than the tigers,” to use his words—what lingers most in my mind is the image of the high-domed building, the living space, the vibrant place of craft that is itself a work of art.

For more information about William Barnhart’s studio and his work, visit his website.

 

Launch of Issue 7: Art

Superstition Review Issue 7 has launched and to celebrate we will be featuring blog posts about our artists and authors. To kick off launch week we will be highlighting a few of the talented artists who are featured in Issue 7.

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15-year-old artist and photographer who won the National Geographic Kids Photography Contest and the World Photography Organization’s Photomonth Youth award in 2010. She was the only person from the UK to be placed in National Geographic’s See The Bigger Picture Photography Competition and the youngest person to be exhibited with Charnwood Art’s Vision 09 exhibition. She has had her photography exhibited around the world in galleries in Europe, Asia and America and has been showcased in many magazines including the most popular children’s magazine in the world, NG Kids. View her photography featured in issue 7. Eleanor Bennett’s Website

Christy Puetz uses beadwork as her main medium. Her 3-dimensional beaded forms have surfaces covered with colorful, organic patterns. Her current work focuses on shape-shifting. The work subtly addresses the issues of the different faces we each put forth given our current surroundings and the eventual effect it has on who we become as a whole – a conglomeration of parts of different creatures. She uses taxidermy animal forms and transforms them into creatures, not yet in existence, but in the process of changing form, color, and purpose. View her creations in issue 7. Christy Puetz’s Website

Cyndy Carstens’ paintings of expansive skies & infinite distances represent an ultimate freedom of the soul grounded by images beckoning sensations of breath & struggles, rest & trials. Subject matter fluctuates between the recognizable & the abstract using color & texture to move the eye across a horizon of musical notes singing of peace and harmony. Carstens’ paintings can be found in private & corporate collections across the U.S. & Canada. Her work has been featured in many exhibitions including Manhattan Arts International’s “The Healing Power of Art” (New York, NY) and most recently has been honored with an Artist of Distinction Award & representation from Stillpoint Gallery of Brunswick, ME. View her painting, “Solitude” in issue 7. Cyndy Carstens’s Website

Sabrina Peros is an emerging artist in Phoenix, AZ. Ms. Peros began drawing and painting at a young age, eventually studying and graduating from The School of Visual Arts (New York) with a BFA in 2002. Some of her highlights include Featured Artist of the Month at The Paper Heart Gallery, Phoenix, Mills Pond House Gallery, St. James, NY, and resident artist at Space 55, Phoenix. View her four paintings featured in issue 7. Sabrina Peros’s Website

William D. Hicks is a writer who lives in Chicago, Illinois. His poetry appears in LITSNACK, Amaranthine Muses, Highland Park Poetry, Cannoli Pie Magazine, Outburst Magazine, The Legendary, Horizon Magazine, Breadcrumb Sins, Inwood Indiana Literary Magazine, The Short Humour Site (UK), The Four Cornered Universe, Save the Last Stall for Me and Mosaic. Cover art is on The Blank Page Handbook and Anti-Poetry. View his photographs in issue 7.

 

 

The full magazine with featured art and artists can be found here. Check back tomorrow to read about the fiction authors featured in Issue 7.