Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Art Seen — Artists Without Borders show offers lots to look at

Artists Without Borders has another group exhibit in the conference room upstairs in the 4D Professional Building on Marydale Avenue and the Kenai Spur Highway.

Sometimes the exhibits have themes, which can increase the creative input from participants (last month’s was “The color of music”). Occasionally, it will be a solo endeavor, but mostly the exhibits are open to any and all. There is no formal group that meets, but rather, an e-mail list that word goes out to regularly. Anyone wishing to be a part of the list can call Karen at 262-3958.

I would describe the current exhibit as cute, with an abundance of pieces popular for decades here on the Kenai Peninsula. Clear exceptions include Donna Schwanke’s pieces, and an entry from Kathy Painter titled “Peacock Gone Wild.”

Schwanke’s “Taking Risks” was the people’s choice, understandably, as it is a vibrant piece with unusual textural handling. The medium is represented as watercolor on textured canvas, but the brushstrokes are so severe and the paint so shiny and plastic feeling, I would have guessed this was done with a polymer of some type.

The composition is solid, and the colors are uplifting without feeling corny. The piece is so inviting and unusual, it needed a notice posted to keep viewers’ hands off of the canvas. It’s been fun to watch Donna stretch and experiment these last couple years, and her work is really starting to garner attention. One might call her “up and coming,” if she’d allow it. She is generally quite demur when complimented, simply professing a great love for creating her work.

Another piece with an interesting aspect is “Wild Horse Canyon” by Sherry Collins. She has used an oil knife rather than a brush, which creates much of the visual interest in this work, as it is pleasingly loose and textural. Her horses appear to be sort of floating in space, however, something I’m not thinking she intended.

Melinda Hershberger has displayed some really lovely and controlled brushstrokes in her still life “Apples and Ball Jar.” It is executed in oil, which can be a messier and potentially unruly medium as compared with others, so her skill is to be appreciated. The creamy colors used in defining the cloth are delicious.

Georg-Anne Phillips has done a nice job on the whimsical “Raven Love II,” a small but accessible painting.

I am pleased to see the interest in creating and displaying art that this exhibit represents. It would be a great benefit to our community if more of the artists took their interests a step further and sought training and education in the visual arts.

Kenai Peninsula College has an excellent program, with knowledgeable and patient instructors. Being in a school environment can open up a person’s perspective and world significantly, and can provide the impetus for expressing one’s self in unique and fortifying ways.

Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.

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