Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Art Seen: Colorful variety at Kaladi’s shows

Both Kaladi Brothers coffee shops are alive with color this month.

Amy Warfle has photographs on display at the Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street in Soldotna. Although the majority of the pieces are wildlife or landscapes, the most successful are her human subject portraits. In “Abriel,” a child’s downturned face fills the image. Her eyes appear closed and her expression is befitting of a much more experienced and wise being.

In “Dress Up,” the subject, possibly the same young girl, sits in front of a large oval mirror in a big, white, floppy hat and a slip obviously meant for a woman. Her pose and expression are captured as the classic dress-up stance; the peripheral environment could not have been better planned (if in fact it was) as the metal chest, large woman’s dress shoes and perfectly aged door create the quintessential backdrop for the child’s play. It is either an expert studio shot, or just a really fortuitous catch.

The framing concerns me some; not just the lack of it, but also the fact that only one of these photographs incorporates a mat that could protect it against damage. Photos have a nonporous surface (unless they are digitally produced on porous paper), as does the glass these are pressed up against.

Moisture can get trapped between the two and make them adhere, sometimes irrevocably. Our environment is dryer than most up here, but I have still seen it happen many times. Using matting and backing board can also usually help with the rippling/waving effect that some of these pieces have occurring.

At the Sterling Highway branch, Donna Schwanke and Kathy Painter have a body of work on display that I first encountered at Odie’s sandwich shop. The two artists work in watercolor, Donna’s relaxed handling often in contrast to Kathy’s more tightly rendered painting (although “Counting Sheep” by Kathy is a wonderful exception).

What is interesting is most of the paintings were created jointly, and then signed with the name Vidalia Romeko. The combination works well. Excepting just a couple of them, namely “Berries and Cherries” and “Lemon-aide,” which have the cluttered, too-many-cooks-spoil-the-soup sort of feel, most of the joint ventures are strong, engaging and lovely.

Two particularly successful Vidalia Romeko pieces are “Landscape,” with rich deep tones and vibrant hues, and “Down the Creek,” in my estimation the best of the show. The latter is nearly fully abstract, but salmon shapes are discernible, and the energy created by the vigorous brushstrokes and the areas where the watercolor paints were left alone to do that crazy thing they do, is quite exciting. It is the kind of painting one could spend a considerable amount of time with and still feel one has not fully explored it. “Counting Sheep” is Kathy’s most successful solo entry, and Donna shines with her almost cartoonish and very playful “Tulips.”

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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