Culture Vulture / Early March Art Explosion


By C.S Gilbert


One of these weeks, in memory and honor of Joel Blair, I’m going to focus on that most difficult and challenging (to me) mode of fine art, abstraction; I thought I’d do it this week, given the opening at the Gato (see below). But the quantity and quality of accessible art offered during the first week of March demanded notice.



First things first. With the opening reception March 3, Gingerbread Square Gallery features next “a rich assortment of new work by Michele Byrne and Christos Calivas,” according to co-owner and curator Jeff Birn. The show runs through March 10.That opening reception, always a pleasure because Theresa Wright is usually tending the bar, is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Gingerbread Square is open daily from 10 a.m.  to 6 p.m..



Says Birn: “Christos Calivas’ paintings are an exploration of the spectrum between realism and abstraction inspired by his surroundings in Maine, Greece and Key West. Michele Byrne’s work is centered on her theme The Art of Conversation, depicting people gathering together in lively social situations, such as the beaches and popular cafés of Key West.”



Ah yes, the way to a feminist’s heart! “Celebrate Women’s History Month at Lucky Street Gallery,” invites Sandra McMannis, announcing a show featuring three rock stars in the heavens of local art: Roberta Marks, Cindy Wynn and Cathy Rose. The show runs March 2-14 but the “gala reception,” coordinating with the show of some of Marks’s students (see below again), is on Friday, March 7, 6:30 till 8:30 p.m.



Women’s History Month or not, March 7 is The Day, with a twin major opening at next-door neighbors Frangipani and SoD for the First Friday Art Stroll on Duval.



At SoDu Fran Decker will be showing new works titled “Fauna.” Her work in the past year concentrated on the Flora and Fauna of the Florida Keys.  Her Flora show was at Frangipani in January; now the Fauna part will be presented. She finds inspiration in nature and has been captivated particularly by the bird life in the Keys. The show runs through March.



Just next door at Frangipani are the internationally known and immensely popular William Welch showing new watercolors and talented newcomer Marc Hacker showing his ceramics. This is Hacker’s premiere show at the gallery and he will also be featuring creations in ceramic, raku and porcelain, the release tells us.



“Welch may not be as well known for his watercolors as his oils or acrylics, but he actually began his long artistic career in the ‘70s as a watercolor painter and achieved acclaim and many awards by art organizations in the Philadelphia area, notably signature status from the Philadelphia Water Color Society. His style is very recognizable in this medium with the light colored impressionistic palette favored by Claude Monet,” we’re told.



“My love of water color goes back decades and I have experimented with papers of every variety,” adds the artist, “and recently I located with much effort the remaining watercolor paper produced at a small English mill that went out of production in the 1930s; a paper preferred by John Singer Sargent amongst others.” Many of the works in the show will be rendered on this rarest of papers.



Hacker “was introduced to ceramics by his mother as a young child and became serious about pottery in his junior high art classes. He studied with Don Curtis at the University of Arkansas and now works with Jay Gogin at the Florida Keys Community College. He creates a major piece each year for the Aids Help Art Auction.” He believes that “clay is the ultimate medium for creation, with endless possibilities of form” and “is inspired by ancient pottery and enjoys incorporating designs from early civilizations into modern works.



Both shows run through March at 1102A and 1102B Duval. Opening reception hours are 6 till 9 pm.



March 7 is also opening night at the Gato for The Abstract Eye, with Jane Gilbert as guest curator for the Florida Keys Council of the Arts. The opening reception will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. “Ironically, Roberta Marks, who has taught many of these artists, has an opening at Lucky Street the same night, but we’ve coordinated our times so that theirs starts when ours finishes,” Gilbert reported.



“An interesting note is that you’ll see quite a variety of styles in this show — from people who are just making the transition from figurative to abstract work, to people who do purely abstract or abstract expressionist work. The six of us who have worked together closely and originated this show —  Marta White, Kathy Walters, Judy Zabar, Lucy Paige, Rita Linder and I are all going to put up some sort of self portrait — not necessarily true to our physical appearance right now,” she said.



I suspect this show will be a must see.



That’s all for now — gotta fly!

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