Sunday, June 26, 2011

Art feature: 'Pop-up' show reveals health of area's contemporary art scene

The Old Get Wiser‭ (‬2011‭)‬,‭ ‬by Sam Perry.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)

By Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt

The contemporary art scene in Palm Beach County may‭ ‬not‭ ‬contain‭ ‬as much of the risqué or emergent as can be found in our flashy neighbor to the south,‭ ‬Miami Beach‭ — ‬and we really needn’t be jealous‭;‬ after all,‭ ‬we have‭ ‬old money‭ — ‬but‭ ‬there is a steady undertow of the new pushing towards the surface,‭ ‬and slowly‭ (‬and I do mean slowly‭) ‬beating down the fine art-and-antique image and recasting Palm Beach as a stylish hub for new art.

We’ve seen it most recently with the success of the Art Palm Beach fair,‭ ‬and alternative art spaces,‭ ‬such as the Mordes’s Whitespace Gallery.‭ ‬Elsewhere,‭ ‬the market for contemporary art has escalated to the point of absurdity.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬you couldn’t really think Palm Beach art collectors would be left out of the fray.‭ ‬It’s just that things move rather slowly here under the royal palms.

Yet,‭ ‬whether or not there’s interest,‭ ‬there can’t be movement or energy in art without the presence of working artists and Saturday night’s‭ ‬opening reception for‭ ‬Palm Beach Pop Up illustrated that there is a vital group of them here and that they’re doing work that merits attention.‭ ‬Unfortunately,‭ ‬gallery and exhibition space is still lacking.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬led by the efforts of Turkish-born artist Sibel Kocabasi,‭ ‬a group of‭ ‬18‭ ‬artists mounted a‭ “‬pop-up‭” ‬exhibit at an alternative space on PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens.‭

The show is a success,‭ ‬and Saturday night’s reception guests felt as though they could’ve been in Miami or New York City.‭ ‬The exhibiting artists are‭ ‬Alette Simmons Jimenez,‭ ‬Amy Gross,‭ ‬Carolyn Sickles,‭ ‬Dan Leahy,‭ ‬Freddy Jouwayed,‭ ‬Isabel Gouveia,‭ ‬Jacek Gancarz,‭ ‬Jackie Tufford,‭ ‬Jacques De Beaufort,‭ ‬Maxine Spector,‭ ‬Nancy San Pedro,‭ ‬Nune Asatryan,‭ ‬Sam Perry,‭ ‬Sarah Knudtson,‭ ‬Sibel Kocabasi,‭ ‬Skip Measelle,‭ ‬Stephan Tugrul and Ryan Toth.‭

Kocabasi provided the impetus and the energy to transform a thrift store into a white cube gallery,‭ ‬though only temporarily through‭ ‬this coming Saturday.‭ ‬She‭ ‬also served as curator for the more than‭ ‬50‭ ‬works in this show,‭ ‬which include sculpture and mixed media,‭ ‬drawings,‭ ‬and paintings.‭ ‬Kocabasi herself is a painter,‭ ‬and one of‭ ‬her works stood out as a stunning example of the use‭ ‬of‭ ‬color and texture in an abstract composition to evoke a mood.‭

Sibel Kocabasi stands in front of her painting,‭ ‬Black Dot Com‭ (‬2010‭)‬.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)

From a distance,‭ ‬Black Dot Com‭ (‬2010‭)‬ is a breathtaking work.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬another layer of interest becomes apparent when you move towards it and realize that the canvas contains thousands of tiny dots creating intriguing texture.‭ ‬Kocabasi remarked that she‭ “‬painted each one by hand.‭” ‬This makes the work not just visibly appealing,‭ ‬but adds a layer of complexity‭ ‬because of the artist’s process.

Two colorful paintings by Palm Beach born-and-raised artist,‭ ‬Sam Perry,‭ ‬stood out for their size,‭ ‬figuration and color.‭ ‬At first they seem somewhat caricature-ish with their bold,‭ ‬brightly colored figures.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the subject matter for‭ ‬The Old Get Wiser‭ (‬2011‭) ‬is somber yet affirming.‭

‬Perry explained that he was inspired by the men in wheelchairs that he saw on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.‭

“Their nurses wheel them in.‭ ‬They don’t move around much anymore.‭ ‬They’re in that certain state,‭ ‬but I pay respect to them.‭ ‬If you look at the title‭ — ‬‘The Old Get Wiser‭’‬ — he’s not moving around a lot,‭ ‬but that doesn’t mean he’s not still using some higher intellect in there,‭” ‬Perry said.‭ “‬I think that’s a positive thing.‭”

Rhinoceros Horn-Bill‭ (‬2010‭)‬,‭ ‬by Ryan Toth.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)

Local artist Ronn Jaffe,‭ ‬who didn’t have work in the show,‭ ‬commented on a work by Jacek Gancarz titled‭ ‬Postcard Greetings‭ (‬2011‭)‬.‭

“It’s like an old greeting postcard,‭ ‬but it’s wonderful to show this deconstructivist building and how dilapidated it is.‭ ‬It’s a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing and I really like it.‭”

This work,‭ ‬which appeared to be one large postcard,‭ ‬was actually composed of numerous‭ ‬4-inch-by-6-inch prints pasted to the wall and assembled like a puzzle.‭ ‬Together,‭ ‬they depicted a photograph of a partially bulldozed strip mall and the words‭ “‬Greetings from Lake Worth.‭” ‬What made the work more interesting was that the individual postcard kept falling off the wall and onto the floor.

‭“‬I call it an‭ ‬interactive piece because the glue’s not holding and I’ve seen people coming and picking them up and putting them back on,‭” ‬Jaffe said.

Artist and teacher Sarah Knudtson contributed some beautifully delicate works on paper that had an uplifting and ethereal quality.‭ ‬Her grayscale color choices bleed into one another in a manner that infuses a sense of solemnity,‭ ‬causing one to realize that they’re beautiful in a quiet manner,‭ ‬like a slowly,‭ ‬lightly‭ ‬dripping stream of water.

Dorotha Lemeh,‭ ‬an associate professor of visual art at Florida Atlantic University,‭ ‬who was on hand for Saturday night’s opening reception,‭ ‬was drawn to‭ ‬Rhinoceros Horn-Bill‭ (‬2010‭)‬,‭ ‬a work by Ryan Toth that was comprised of a small sculpture of a bird jutting out of the painted wall.‭

“There’s an odd sense of humor going on here with the wings falling off of a skeleton bird that’s flying off into the unknown.‭ ‬It’s almost a comment on what’s happening with the situation with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,‭” ‬Lemeh said.‭ “‬With that kind of decay and us not taking care of our environment,‭ ‬it’s almost a wake up call.‭”

Performance and mixed-media artist Jackie Tufford
stands amid her series‭ ‬She Wore Wire Dresses‭ (‬2011‭)‬.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)

Jackie Tufford’s whimsical series,‭ ‬She‭ ‬Wore Wire Dresses‭ (‬2011‭)‬,‭ ‬stood out for both its beauty and pro-feminist stance.‭ ‬She creates intricate petticoat-type sculptures,‭ ‬which she wears when doing her performance work,‭ ‬which‭ ‬she didn’t do for the opening.‭ ‬When you look closely at these assemblages,‭ ‬you realize that they’re actually made from both ribbon and telephone wire,‭ ‬a melding of technology and femininity.

In her artist’s statement,‭ ‬she combines her wire sculptures and mixed-media canvases‭ “‬to question what it means to be a girl,‭ ‬a woman or a lady‭…” ‬engaged in various activities.‭ ‬She also points out that,‭ ‬though the assemblages appear quite delicate,‭ ‬they’re actually quite heavy and cumbersome when she dons them during her performance work.

Overall,‭ ‬the exhibit was a refreshing display of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that encouraged contemplation and inquiry.‭

“The work that I’ve seen is very vivid,‭ ‬alive,‭ ‬and innovative,‭” ‬Lemeh said.‭ ‬“There are some pieces here that really take chances.‭”

Palm Beach Pop Up‬is on view only until next Saturday,‭ ‬July‭ ‬2,‭ ‬at the temporary Déjà New Gallery,‭ ‬which is located at‭ ‬2602‭ ‬PGA Blvd,‭ ‬Palm Beach Gardens,‭ ‬in a plaza on the southwest corner of Prosperity Farms and PGA Boulevard.‭ ‬Viewing hours are Monday through Saturday from‭ ‬11‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬until‭ ‬5‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬please contact Sibel Kocabasi at‭ ‬561-667-3187.

Jenifer Mangione Vogt is a marketing communications professional.‭ ‬She’s been enamored with painting for most of her life.‭ ‬She studied art history and received her B.A.‭ ‬from Purchase College.‭ ‬Visit her art blog at‭ ‬

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