Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"There's Nothing Like a Dame, V" at Gallery 21

"Red, Orange and Yellow Peppers", by pastel artist, KAREN HOWARD

Hello All.

"Shades of "South Pacific"! The Dames are back and "In the House"!
Yep, you've got it! And, so do they, folks. They've got it right, when they say, "There's Nothing Like a Dame!" The Dames have it all "going on" in Gallery 21 at Spanish Village Art Center, located at 1770 Village Place in Balboa Park. The fifth annual show runs from September 15 - 27, 2010, and is open to the public everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Each year when I see the title for this show, and the exceptional group of 7 "Dames" (that's gifted Ladies to you, folks) I have to smile. It conjures up all sorts of whimsical images in one's mind, and gives me an amusing insight into the characteristic sense of humor of the group. (Gifted artists with a great sense of levity). That's a "winning hand". Even their logo, of a bandanna clad well-muscled dame, flexing her right arm while wielding a paint brush, and boasting the slogan of "Yes, We Can", testifies to this. Who needs "South Pacific"? We've got them right here in Spanish Village. I think these Dames can "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan"! And, I haven't even gotten to their painting, photography and glass fusion skills yet!

These 7 remarkable artists are: Shandel Gamer, pastels, Karen Howard, pastels, Dana Levine, photography and pastels, Wilma J. Lopez, en caustic, Eileen Mandell, photography, Caroline Morse, oil, acrylic and photography, and Marcy Stinton, fused glass.

This year's show is a wonderful collection of 2-dimensional paintings, pastels, en caustic, infra red photography and 3-dimensional fused glass sculpture. When I visited the exhibit, Marcy Stinton cheerfully and proudly shared their story with me. It seems that these "Dames" have known each other for fifteen years or so, and all started out at the La Jolla Art Association. It is remarkable that there are artists who can boast of being a part of that well-known and esteemed organization; even more remarkable that they have been together all this time.

"Wild Antique Rose", fused art glass by MARCY STINTON

Shandel Gamer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature, SDSU, 1978 and a Master of Arts in English Literature, SDSU, 1977. Wherever does she get the time?  (I guess that's just what Dames do...make the the time!)  Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, her interest in art began in high school as a portraiture artist. Shandel, true to form, put her nose to the grindstone, and unfailingly, progressed into wildlife portraiture over the next twenty-five years. Her chosen medium, of pastels on sanded paper and board, depicts detailed subjects in the foreground, as the "focal point" of her paintings.  She, intelligently, places the images against muted and slightly "out of focus" backgrounds for a wonderfully intriguing effect. Shandel's paintings are admired and widely collected by discerning patrons in the United States and Canada.  Now, I ask you, "Is that a Dame, or what?"

Karen Howard is a member of the Pastel Society of San Diego and spent her early years on the coast of New England. Beginning her art experience with a pencil, as most artists do, she soon discovered the wonders of pastels, and as they say, "the rest is history". 30 years of history as a matter of fact. Constantly searching for innovative ideas in her creative process, Karen has discovered Le Carte Pastel Card, a sanded paper that allows multiple layering; and uses it as the surface of choice for her pastels. Among her portfolio styles are Still Life, Portraiture, Seascapes and Wildlife.  In painting, Karen hopes that the viewer will "take a step closer to examine the fine details in the shadows, reflected light and reflections".  (And, believe me, you will... because you won't believe your eyes.)  Ever so modest about her raging talent, this is one beautifully "blushing" Dame that comes to the table, "All In".  She gives "trompe l'oeil"  something to crow about!

Dana Levine, in her own words, "studied the unlikely combination of art history and chemistry in college", and holds a PhD, in Biochemistry!  After a professional career as a scientist and educator, she moved to La Jolla, California and resumed her interest in the arts.  (It gets better.)  Once there, Dana studied traditional painting and soon developed an interest in digital photography.  She now exhibits and sells both paintings and photographs.  Dana is a member of the Digital Art Guild and San Diego Watercolor Society (yin and yang?).  Believing that art and science are not really an "unlikely combination", she says that, "Both strive to see nature with a fresh eye." (Dames see things differently).  Dana's aim is to find beauty in "unexpected and unlikely places" by exploring the "inner richness of nature and the human form".  Where did this Dame come from?  The Amazon?  Or, Pluto maybe.

Wilma J. Lopez is a virago and a force to reckon with. Determined to learn and perfect the technique of en caustic wax painting, in classic style, she taught herself the art fifteen years ago. (You go, Girl... uh, Dame!) Since then, Dame Wilma has become a nationally renowned en caustic artist, and is now teaching her unique style of painting to enthusiastic beginners. She has won awards for her paintings on both coasts of the United States.  Wilma is an avid member of the Foothills Art Association and the San Diego Museum of Art Artists' Guild.  She says of herself and her interests that, "Through my en caustic paintings, I try to create unique original works which perfectly balance my knowledge of color and technique."  Job accomplished, Wilma.  Take a Bow!

Eileen Mandell began her career as a black and white photographer spending hours in the print lab working with black and white images and alternative photographic processes.  She says of her art, "Photography is always the source - the seed of my ideas."  With a background in art and her interest in the play of light and dark (as it affects color and tone), Eileen easily segued into the area of infrared.  "Infrared is one of the alternative processes that always intrigued me...And, the images~the contrast, radiating glow and altered tones, based on the heat emanating from the subjects, are both sensual and surreal."  Along with her photography, Eileen teaches Digital Art and Photography at the high school and college levels.  She admits that, "The students keep me energized, and keep me on my game."  I have seen Eileen's infrared photography, and am awed by its intensity and high emotional impact.  So, I can tell you all, "This is a Dame with Game aplenty"!  Spot on, Game.

Caroline Morse is a transplant to Southern California.  She grew up in Seattle, Washington, but mostly lived in New York, the Big Apple!  Caroline arrived in San Diego in 2000 after illustrious careers in foundation administration, agency management, social work and art therapy!  Whew!  What a Dame.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  Of her oils, acrylics and photography, she states, "My paintings are interpretative realism with an emphasis on color, space and light.  I seek to capture energy and emotion, combining substance and meaning with aesthetics."  Caroline holds membership in the La Jolla Art Association, San Diego Art Institute, Allied Artist Association of Visual Arts Group and Penwomen (and, her list of past exhibitions wraps around the Empire State Building several times).  I tell you... this "Dame" can give you a serious complex!

Marcy Stinton was born in Norwood, Massachusetts, but has lived in California for over thirty-five years.  Originally a stain glass artist, Marcy found, for her own tastes, that fused glass presented a more challenging medium.  Ever-ready for a challenge, she dove in without hesitation.  Marcy  has studied with well-known wildlife glass artist, Kathleen Sheard, but is primarily self-taught.  (That's what I call "taking the initiative".)   And, how about this?  Most recently, Marcy has begun using a sand blaster with which she creates etched or carved images in her fused glass!  (See what she means by..." Ain't Nothing Like a Dame"?)  Marcy says that, "I enjoy creating unique images in my mind, and then transforming them into glass.  The challenge to me is how to manipulate the glass, using combinations of warm and hot glass techniques in order to bring the images to flourishion."
Ain't that just like a Dame?  Better step back, Guys and Dolls.  Marcy's just getting rolling!

Hold that thought! Be right back. Just stepping out to the kitchen for a short writer's break. Hey, a "Dame's gotta have a cup of Joe" every now and then.

Okay, back to the keyboard with that steaming cup of Colombian Joe, and wrapping it up for the Dames!  These ladies will "Do you Proud" any day of the week, month or year.  But, for right now, get in to see them at this fabulous exhibition.  It makes a Girl (uh, Dame, that is) stick out her chest and say,  "Let's hear it for the Dames"!  There just ..."Ain't Nothing like a Dame"!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

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