Tag Archives: Paintings

In Norcross: Open Exhibition at Kudzu Art Zone

As we have bragged before, we are not afraid to leave the vibrant tumult of the urban core to find art in the metro’s extremities. We devote today’s blog to a visit to Norcross and its gallery/studio space called Kudzu Art Zone.

The Zone currently hosts a juried exhibition that was open to all Georgia artists. Professor Craig Dongoski of Georgia State University, a multimedia artist, served as juror for the open competition.

Openness can be wild and chaotic. Judging by the work selected for exhibition, Dongoski must have been overwhelmed with flower power in the work submitted. There are lots of studies of flowers and fruits on display. Does everyone who thinks of Norcross think of agriculture, wild plants on the borders of pasture land, or the flowered surface of swamp ponds?

What caught Dongoski’s eye as meriting awards were mostly not flowers or even landscapes, but dreams.

The blue ribbon went to Ed McGrath’s painting titled “Whaling Town.” The style resembles that of Mattie Lou O’Kelley, with its compressed perspective, and numerous routine events occurring all at once in miniature and rudimentary forms.

Ed McGrath, painter of "Whaling Town"

Ed McGrath, painter of “Whaling Town”

Mr. McGrath was present at the Zone when we visited, and he requested that his work not be photographed. He said his wife had urged him to make the painting, and it was a gift to her, and she did not want it to be photographed. He said he has made many more pictures in the same style and has never shown them publicly.

The red ribbon was awarded to Don Dougan for his three-dimensional work, “Verdigris Dream: Two Natures.” Dougan’s representation of eery feelings that lurk beneath a soothing surface has the power to haunt, and also the power to amuse with its silly collection of found symbols.

"Verdigris Dream: Two Natures," by Don Dougan, 12.5 x 30 x 4, Mixed media, copper, found objects

“Verdigris Dream: Two Natures,” by Don Dougan, 12.5 x 30 x 4, Mixed media, copper, found objects

The white ribbon was awarded to an artist identified as Vision Bear for the painting titled “Ocelotl Dream.” This work is packed with imagery suggestive of dream-journeying and ritual objects, its colors pulsing with heat and alchemy.

"Ocelotl Dream," by Vision Bear, acrylic on canvas

“Ocelotl Dream,” by Vision Bear, 20 x 16, acrylic on canvas

Several honorable mentions were awarded. Here is a tip of the hat to one of the fans of flora, Mary Jane Warren Stone.

"Water Garden," by Mary Jane Warren Stone, watercolor

“Water Garden,” by Mary Jane Warren Stone, 34 x 48, watercolor

Kudzu Art Zone’s Open Juried Exhibition is on display through July 19, 2014.

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Ebru Ercan’s Paintings at Sight + Sound Gallery

Ebru Ercan’s abstract paintings at the Sight + Sound Gallery play with readily available shapes and colors. We see swirls and rectangles, and familiar shades of blue, green, and red. In separate works the abstracts evoke landscapes or the human form or the cosmos. Some pieces suggest spatial depth while some only the canvas’s surface.

Ebru Ercan’s “Summer Solace,” 30” x 30”, acrylic and resin.

Ebru Ercan’s “Summer Solace,” 30” x 30”, acrylic and resin.

Although these elements of shape and color may be viewed as predictable, Ercan’s attitude of avid exploration is palpable, as the beat of each painting, or its “energy,” to use an overtaxed word, creates the possibility of encountering the unfamiliar. A longer viewing time allows the familiar elements to become unfamiliar again. Ercan’s willingness to take familiar elements as a point of departure encourages the viewer to do the same.

The images on this page showing Ercan’s work are woefully inadequate as reproductions of the paintings themselves. One element that cannot be seen here is the thick, shiny resin surface of the paintings. In “The Safe Haven,” Ercan presents a simultaneously inviting and foreboding landscape, a dimly lit swamp worth getting lost in. But you have to be in the room with the painting’s gleaming surface in order to feel the wetness of its apparent refuge.

Ercan’s “The Safe Haven,” 36” x 60”, acrylic and resin on canvas.

Ercan’s “The Safe Haven,” 36” x 60”, acrylic and resin on canvas.

We saw this type of glossy surface on paintings earlier this year at Pryor Fine Art on Miami Circle. The pictures weren’t entirely abstract but were modern in the sense of: experimenting with disjointed images; combinations of realist and abstract images; experimentation with what is complete and what is not; exploration of ideas.

The question interests us: What is that thick veneer saying to the viewer?

Our first impulse was to believe that that veneer is meant to convey a higher artistic value, which then translates to a higher monetary value. Applying a glaze to an object can signify an additional layer of labor and attention by the artist or craftsman, though it does not require long training or deep reflection or a particular vision to apply such a veneer to a painting.

Another impulse is to feel the shiny surface as a direct symbol of wetness. We noted above that the veneer on Ercan’s painting, “The Safe Haven,” leant the swampy image a sensation of wetness. But Ercan applied the same veneer to all of the paintings on display, and wetness surely is not a theme appropriate to all of the paintings.

It also occurred to us to wonder whether the thick glaze suggests an insecurity with the abstract nature of the images. We live in a time and a place where the anti-intellectual forces of government and business have regrettable credibility when they point to abstract art and say it is of little value because “my child could have done that.”

We wonder whether thick glazes on paintings are somehow a response to that anti-intellectual hostility. The glaze is meant to be, or unconsciously serves as, a shield asserting a layer of value that few children (or politicians) could accomplish.

Fortunately, here at Atlanta Art Blog, we are protected against the local anti-intellectual forces by a thick veneer of faith in the creators.

Sight + Sound Gallery occupies a small space at Studioplex in the Old Fourth Ward. The Gallery also retails high-end audio equipment.

Sight + Sound Gallery occupies a small space at Studioplex in the Old Fourth Ward. The Gallery also retails high-end audio equipment.

Ebru Ercan’s “Enchantment” is on display at Sight + Sound Gallery through September 6, 2013. Atlanta Art Blog thanks Caitlin Zelinsky of Sight + Sound for her thoughtful remarks on Ercan’s paintings during our visit.