Monday, August 6, 2007

Turning Point Gallery - Chapel Hill, NC

Kaisa's Thoughts

Turning Point Gallery's
walls are dark, and the lighting is very mellow, making it cozy and intimate. It’s an odd space, with lots of little rooms filled with artwork branching off the sides of the main room. Everything is pleasantly arranged, the artwork set in places that show off their color and shape the best.

Steve's Thoughts

Turning Point Gallery is, as Kaisa mentions, an unusual space for a gallery. Being in University Mall, and occupying the space of a narrow store-front, it is a long thin rectangle. But the space is beautiful and divided artfully.

For example, the entry is cleverly handled, with a small glowing atrium area. Beautiful furniture and shelves, carefully scaled for the small room, display enticing samples of what can be found inside. The rest of the gallery is around several turns, which gives an air of mystery, leading you further in, where the space opens and larger pieces are displayed. I'm always surprised as I enter the gallery proper, as if I've found a secret space, remote from the rest of the world, and quite removed from the mall.

The entire space is well proportioned and comfortable, with a private and interior ambiance and warmth. The walls are predominantly black, which makes the well lit artwork glow. I almost get the feeling of jewels set on dark cloth so their fire can best be appreciated. The dark walls also make the long narrow space seem cozy, intimate, and larger than it probably is. It all works a kind of magic.

I've met several people, over the years, sitting at the desk in the middle of the gallery, and all have been warm, friendly, and knowledgeable about the artists and artworks. They are attentive without hovering, and you can enjoy the art in peace, or in conversation with one of them. Either way, it is a pleasure to linger.

The artwork is modern or contemporary, colorful, and varies in scale from miniature paintings and collages, to canvases and giclees meant to dominate a large wall. Though the space is small and intimate, it handles some surprisingly large art. They also display art pottery, jewelry originals, and sculpture in various materials.

I almost always end up fascinated with or laughing at one or more of the pieces. Last time it was a watercolor by Alexis Lavine, with a large gate, a glimpse of portions of sun drenched buildings, intensely blue sky, a few cloth items hanging on a line, and a composition that played games with all the shapes so I had to stare for ten minutes or more. This time it was the fascinating and delightful private world of Matt Lively, with its misbehaving machines, its animated furniture, and an atmosphere and style of object that seems lost in another time (the 1920s, it seemed to me). More on both of these artists in separate posts, later.

One of the more unusual mediums displayed here is Chinese paper sculpture, which is meant to hang on the wall. These are shadow-box worlds made from paper which has been beautifully painted, cut, folded, and arranged. In some of these, the images seem of the west. In others, the same eastern aesthetic that informs Chinese paintings and brushwork holds sway, and the sculptures can exude the same peace and unity.

I've noticed that horses, in paintings and in sculpture, seem to have a special place in this gallery. So I wasn't surprised that they have a special link on their website for art with horse themes.

The styles of the artists are varied enough to suit different tastes, and the space and atmosphere of the gallery are worth repeat visits.

Artists whose work struck one or both of us this visit:

Matt Lively
Julie Anne

For more information, glimpses of other artists' work, hours of operation, and directions, see their website - Harmony Fine Art.

Turning Point Gallery
University Mall
Hwy 15-501 @ 201 South Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC
(919) 967-0402

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Matt Lively

Kaisa's Thoughts

Matt Lively: When walking into Turning Point Gallery, his pieces caught my eye first. They’re fun and bright, with fun little touches in them. Everything he draws is either very round, like the Helium Balloons in “Helium Short”, or has a sort of lopsided look, like the windows on the house in “The Pink House”. Although he paints natural things, he also paints more fanciful pieces, with Doug the Dog and creatures called Beecycles.
The way he paints is unusual. The colors he uses, and the things he draws, remind me of old sepia photographs from the1920’s.
Along with his paintings, he has some sculptures of sheep, which look all blobby and as if they were made out of cotton candy. Even though they’re all drippy and blobby, they still retain their sheepiness in an adorable way.
I would love to have some of his pictures on my wall. They would brighten up the house on dark and gloomy days.

Steve's Thoughts

I am right there with Kaisa on the fun of Matt Lively's pieces. When I came round the last corner at Turning Point Gallery and saw the Beecycles painting I laughed right out loud. They are wonderful, very inventive, the cross breed of a fertile imagination in an odd world. I also got a 1920's/1930's sort of feel from the paintings - in the lighting, the proportions, the way houses and rooms are proportioned, the colors (even though our record of the 20s and 30s is primarily black and white). Mr. Lively handles his oil paint like a master, using scumbling with great precision to create the wonderful shading. Everything is rich and fat not just in shape, but also in surface. Things look good enough to eat, and the surfaces look old and complex.

Look to Matt Lively's website, or the Matt Lively webpage at Turning Point Gallery's site to learn more about his work, and to see samples. But you really need to see these in person to appreciate the rich surfaces and the deep tone of the whimsy. Misbehaving machines, surfaces that do unexpected things, furniture with gender and personality, Doug the dog, hybrid creatures... It's a personal and fascinating world.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tyndall Galleries - Chapel Hill, NC

Steve's Thoughts

I have loved this gallery for a long time. While it is in University Mall, where three art galleries can be found, Tyndall Galleries does not come across as a commercial gallery. Rather, it registers more like a museum of fine art. Everything is carefully designed to set each artwork for maximum impact.

Not that Tyndall Galleries isn't lovely in its own right. The walls are white, the floor is a lovely pale hardwood, the lighting is wonderful, and the labels are very quiet beside each piece. Artworks each have plenty of breathing room, and this means each is noticed. Featured artists have their names on the wall above their section, in a neutral toned, non-serif font, resulting in a display that could be photographed as a museum quality art poster. Jane Tyndall spoke with us about one display, in particular, and we could tell that while the artists want perfection within their paintings, Jane's goal is perfection within the gallery space. The result is worth the effort. Every time I enter this gallery I feel the wholeness and unity of it, even as I walk about and visit the separate galleries featuring each artist.

The display I mentioned above was for Jacob Cooley (whose paintings we will review in a separate post). A free-standing wall that divides the space into front and back galleries, without sacrificing the unity of the overall space, was hung with one long horizontal landscape, and then ten small square landscapes, five above, and five below. The spacing between the paintings, the spacing within the shape of the wall, and the placement of the artist's name (below, which was unusual and effective) all worked well as a composition in their own right, and held my attention longer for each piece as a result. While other artists had more work and more wall, I somehow felt that Jacob Cooley was the star attraction as a result of this special hanging.

The other two featured artists had key positions and beautiful displays, as well. We hope to review all three in separate posts.

Jane Tyndall radiates warm energy, always in motion, and if you meet her there she may strike you as the brightest point in the gallery. Staff always warmly welcome patrons, and then leave them to quietly engage the artwork. She has created a unique, beautifully scaled space, and the ever changing art in her gallery is always worth a visit.

Kaisa's Thoughts

Tyndall Galleries has an open interior, with white walls and a hardwood floor, and the artwork arranged so artistically that you feel like you’re in a museum. Each of the three featured artists have a wall to themselves, arranged to showcase the artists at their best.

Because the interior is so uncluttered, your attention is drawn to the artwork, which is easy to contemplate, since there are no distractions.

Artists featured during our review (7/28/07):

Rachel Campbell
Jacob Cooley
Gayle Stott Lowry

I love to come into Tyndall Galleries to see any new Jane Filer paintings. More on Jane Filer in a separate post, as well - I can't decide if the gallery or the artist is luckiest in that ongoing relationship.

Tyndall Galleries
University Mall
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Tel: 919.942.2290

For more information, directions, hours of operation, please see the Tyndall Galleries website.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

John Rosenthal

Steve's Thoughts

I posted on another blog a commentary about composition, and John Rosenthal's marvelous photos. See the other blog post here.

Columbia Museum of Art

Steve's Thoughts

Several months ago I visited the Columbia Museum of Art with a friend. I wrote a post on another blog - you can read it here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cindy Woods

Steve's Thoughts

Cindy Woods posts a drawing (or several) just about every day on her blog Learning Daily.

Here are some samples:

a bit of the birthday lunch
I love this. The fork, the spoon, the lovely loops in the bowl in the upper left, the green shapes in the bottom (green beans? grin)... That same playful life in her figures making this still life not still. I also love the limited and judicious use of color. The sugar packs... There may not have been much color in this place setting, but I love the use of just green and the two primaries that make green. The blue sugar packs echo in the grays in the stainless steel. The browns are subdued enough to play as neutrals - excellent restraint. I like the composition created by the brown of the table running down the right edge and across the top, and the white elsewhere - all acting as negative space even when it's the more positive cloth. Even the cropping isn't accidental - it says Cindy Woods. The more I look the more I see - I just noticed the lovely handling of the ice cubes. Precision everywhere, but with the tightrope walking suspense and energy of a blind contour drawing* (the fork!). Brava. Cindy Woods and Sparky Donatello do this so well.

Here are more lovelies:

firehouse five
The whole sketch (or montage of sketches - I like the way they all work together but aren't necessarily from the same viewpoint/view) seems ready to break into movement - I think it's the quality of Cindy's line - and the juggler is the coup de grace.

short and long poses
The sense of weight, the way this fits on the page, the beautiful contours...

Maymont audience
Sigh. I just love the weight and quiet pause of this. Cindy makes this look effortless, but it is years of drawing just about every day that makes this possible. You can see her artistic and expressive strength growing over the months and years of her blog. It's a fascinating chronicle.

Go look at LOTS more - after all, she's "Learning Daily." I look at her blog just about every night.

*Blind Contour Drawings are an artistic exercise that strengthens the right brain, the visual/spacial side. They are done without looking at the drawing - just at the subject, and FEELING the way your pencil/pen should move over and around the subject. The chatty, verbal left brain just hates this kind of stuff, and gets out of the way. Cindy gets some wonderful results, like this cool pool party sketch.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Miriam Sagasti

Kaisa's Thoughts

Miriam Sagasti paints lovely scenes of Peruvian villages. The feeling of warmth and sunshine in these paintings is truly delightful. The tiles on the roofs look like they’d be hot to the touch, and the little gardens and potted plants all over the place make the towns seem cheerful and alive. I like the way she uses bright colors, like blues and greens, for doors and window frames on the brown and cream colored houses.

She also has more realistic scenes, like Balcon de Chincheros and Old Town Alexandria. In Balcon de Chincheros, the lighting is so realistic, you feel like you could reach out and touch the building, and Old Town Alexandria gives a feel of winter solitude and elegance.

Steve's Thoughts

I've been noticing Miriam Sagasti's paintings and giclee prints for the last year, since they showed up at Little Luxuries and Brick Alley Books in Hillsborough. Because that is a small shop, the works there were smaller pieces. What we saw at Art and Soul were larger, and some were in a different style.

A favorite of mine, Blue Balcony, is stylized, working in the abstract as well as being representational. They are brightly colored, light hearted, full of sun and light, and play with patterns, almost as a quilt might. The slopes of the Andes, in the background of this and many of her paintings, seem almost to be draped with quilts at their lower elevations. Lovely shapes and colors everywhere - and while the colors are bright, they are never garish. Harmony and peace prevail. These are quietly happy paintings, and the feelings are contagious.

As Kaisa mentioned, blue balconies and window frames on white or cream colored buildings is a common theme, almost a signature element. Village Downtown is another fine example, with a more elaborate array of balconies. In the background the Andes appear arranged in harmonious symmetry, again reminding me of the peaceful beauty of quilts. One of the mountains is a volcano, and the way the smoke is painted made me smile and stare. I believe these paintings make her happy to paint them; you can feel it.

While most of her work is graphic, playful, almost childlike in the choice of colors and composition, others are more realistic. Balcon de Chincheros is an example. Though it is still ostensibly about a balcony in a bright color (blue green) for me it was more about the games of shapes and positives and negatives. The cut-outs in the balcony rail are playfully handled, sometimes with dark background, sometimes with light. I loved the game being played with the wrought iron lantern hanger and its shadow. The bit of green door on the right hand edge, and the amount of sky showing are also deliberate and deft composition decisions. They set the piece in balance and your eye in motion. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite between this piece and her more playful, colorful paintings.

Miriam Sagasti has a beautiful website, and some of her work is available as prints. Go check it out - and you owe it to yourself to see her work in person.