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.