Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

In this work of historical fiction, Alice Hoffman elaborates upon the life history of artist Camille Pissarro, growing up in an outcast Jewish family on the island of St. Thomas.  Instead of helping with the family business, he finds himself drawn to art.  Hoffman describes his vision as such: “ I had always looked at the world as if it were a puzzle — whether it was a scene, a landscape, or a person — the pieces dissolved inside my mind so that I could then put them back together to form a whole.”  He draws and paints the vivid color-filled island scenes, then eventually travels to Paris to paint the city scenes there.

The Marriage of Opposites is a story about loves lost and found, families’ long held secrets, island life and the myths that perpetuate through generations.  Ghost stories, spirits and werewolves spook characters’ imaginations.  Magical realism is sprinkled throughout. The color Haint Blue plays an important role — “blue kept unwanted spirits away; ghosts and demons could not cross over water, nor could they enter a room that was the color of the sea.” Now I know why so many porch ceilings are painted this light blue-green color.  Haint blue, I’ll have to add it to my palette and will be reminded of Camille Pissarro and this haunting book whenever I use it.  Enjoy Alice Hoffman’s lush prose, engaging story and learn a little about one of the art world’s most famous painters.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Peebles Art & Wine Event

The totally organized brainchild of LAC member Kathy Ross, the ‘Art on Loan’ event was a first for LAC.

Joining forces with Rick Peebles, owner of Peebles Prosthetics, a dental prosthetics lab, the LAC solved the problem of his building’s bare walls by displaying a variety of member artwork!  As a result, Rick got a more attractive facility for employees and clients, and the LAC got wonderful exposure of our abilities and offerings as a non-profit organization.

     While beginning with the idea of furthering exposure of the many talented LAC artists, the show wrapped up with a tremendous reception on December 10th.

Rick’s employees, led by Cindy Kelly, Sales and Marketing Director, were also on hand to organize and serve.
Attended by many artists and Peebles’ clients and friends, Kathy organized a fun evening, including a scavenger hunt, raffle drawings, silent auction, musical entertainment,and the opportunity to get a jump on holiday shopping by buying from the artists’ sales tables.
Throughout the evening, the reception crowd flowed around the entire second floor of the building, weaving down the hallways where the art on loan was hung several months ago and into the large training room for announcements of prizes.  The corner break room held a large selection of wonderful food!

And the decision was made among everyone involved that such success deserves a repeat!  Look for another opportunity for this event later in 2016!
by Ann Quinn

Friday, November 6, 2015

Denver Arts Week First Friday at LAC

 What a great turnout at the LAC Gallery for the Denver Arts Week First Friday Artwalk!  Coop members Lynnette Kupferer, Gail Firmin and Leslie Bitgood demonstrated their art -- mosaics, watercolor and glass lampwork, visitors enjoyed the music of Brian Sapp and guest, delicious appetizers and wine were plentiful, and sales of homemade Holiday gifts were numerous.  A great time was had by all!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Literary Outreach: Book Reviews

The Lakewood Arts Council has always included not only an emphasis on visual arts, but also emphasized the importance of literary, musical and performance art as well.  Previously in the quarterly FOCUS magazine, book reviews fulfilled that literary category.  With the transition to electronic delivery, changes have taken place, and for those of you interested in reading my opinion of recent readings, you may find them here on the blog.  And as always, I encourage any readers to submit a book review of your own for publication,  and would welcome any creative writing to be posted on this blog! Just contact me at gbfirmin@comcast.net

Here's a review of a couple of books I read back in 2014:

The 13 Clocks by James Thurber
I requested “The 13 Clocks” from the library because I read that Neil Gaiman, author of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, whose books I’ve enjoyed, considers it one of his favorite books and “required reading”.  It took a long time on hold at the library to finally get to me.
A short story, one may call it a fairy tale, or a tale of horror, or a comedy, or the hero’s quest.  It is all these things.  But mostly, according to Neil Gaiman, it is a story that the author, James Thurber, thoroughly enjoyed writing. This is evident by the amount of wordplay contained in the story: the words fall in and out of poetic rhyme, humorous passages also contain an element of horror and made-up words that are fun to pronounce.
“The 13 Clocks” is about an evil Duke living in a castle with a captive princess.  Only a suitor who can restart the stopped clocks can win the hand of the princess, or be fed to the geese.  If you enjoy a funny fairy tale, and delight in the craft of the written word, take time to read “The 13 Clocks”.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Eight short stories make up this collection by Karen Russell, not all about Vampires, but all seem to incorporate a theme of metamorphosis.  In the title story, humans morph into bats and satisfy their abnormal cravings by sucking on lemons in the lemon grove. Young Japanese girls work in the silk factories by actually transforming into silkworms in “Reeling for the Empire” and in “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis”, the discovery of a scarecrow by Eric’s tormentors scares more than just crows.  Is the scarecrow really Eric or just a cruel joke? It works its magic in effecting a change of heart in a teenage boy. 
Descriptively written, fantastical and thought-provoking, these stories make one wonder about their own transformations. In “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979”, Nal considers fate: “If fate was just a tapestry with a shifting design –some fraying skein that the gulls were tearing right this second – then Nal didn’t see why he couldn’t also find a loose thread, and pull."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Feast for the Senses

You can feel it — that cool crisp edge to the breeze, slicing into summer’s heat, opening the rift to usher in fall.  My favorite time of year, when the senses are titillated by sights, sounds and smells.  A trip to the farmer’s market is a delight, an inspiration in color and activity, a painting waiting to happen.

Bright white tents mimic the clouds in the endlessly blue sky, shading shoppers dressed in colorful clothes handling a varied assortment of vegetables, the harvest after a long growing season, ready to pop in a pan and savor the smells of simmering sauces, soups and stews.

Strolling the stalls, I can’t help but be enthralled with the mix of textures and tones, colors and composition begging to be put on paper with pencil and paint. I photograph woven baskets from Africa, stacked one upon the other, handles mimicking twining vines.  Good gourd! Look at those bumpy pumpkins, pimples and puckers creating a mottled surface sure to challenge an artist intent on accurate rendering.  But the colors!  Oranges, reds and yellows, greenish-blue, cream and pink!  When did pumpkins become drenched in such a palette?  Crookneck squash, pattypan, chayote, shiny aubergine, baskets of scarlet tomatoes — I’m choosing paint tubes in my head already.

Moving on, drawn to the crackling hiss of hatch chilis, roasting in a rotating cage, radiating aromas that scent the scene.  Autumn is imminent when blistering poblanos tantalize the taste buds with the promise of a pot of hearty green chili.

Stall tenders probably wonder why I’m photographing their produce — aren’t artists always anxious to capture their impressions to save for a future masterpiece?  With the images in my camera, bounty in my market bag, inspiration in my mind, I head home ready to create —good food, captivating paintings and a home that, like the farmer’s market, offers a delight to the senses.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Artist in the Spotlight: Mariposa Marangia

Mariposa Marangia joined the LAC Coop recently, and I had the pleasure of spending a day in training with her.  Involved in so many things: art, theatre, teaching at the university level, I thought she would make a very interesting subject for an Artist in the Spotlight article.  Thank you Mariposa for completing my questionnaire -- I am posting it here in its entirety.

1.How did you get started in creating art?

Since childhood, I have always liked to create art. Colors fascinated me.
One of my earliest memories is being kindergarten, and carefully considering the crayon colors I would apply to a coloring book image of an easer bunny and a basket of eggs. Shades of yellow, violet, and pink and green working together inspired me as I colored the image.

In early elementary school, I would create drawings of women’s fashion on index cards, color the outfits with colored pencils or crayon. I loved the boxes of Crayola Crayons with the assortment of colors and shades. I would ponder the difference between a blue-green and a green-blue; taupe and beige, and red and orange.

Life and education took over, putting my visual arts inclinations on the backburner.
Now and then, I would explore photography and ceramics. I enjoyed them, but I did not persist. There was a time, after my career was in full gear, that I took to painting in oils, but that was short-lived as life circumstances changed for me. Something always seemed to interrupt attempts to pick up where I left off in my art creating life. In the last year or so, the call of the arts has been hard to ignore.

2.What is your favorite medium and why?

Watercolor attracts me. I like the fluidity and transparency of the medium.  The challenge is to create an image that is clean, vibrant, and expressive.

3.What are your favorite subjects?

Favorite subjects vary considerably. I like to paint flowers, still life, figures, landscapes and cityscapes. Painting cats interest me at the moment because their gestures are captivating and their facial expressions are penetrating.

4.Do you have a vision for your work?  For a body of work that you would like to create?

I am striving to produce a body of watercolor paintings that are loose, clean, and expressive of my feelings for a subject. For me, painting is personal -- a way to express something about a subject that words cannot. If I can evoke a similar feeling from a viewer, my work comes alive in a broader sense.

5.How did you find out about the Lakewood Arts Council and Co-op?  What do you find most enjoyable or beneficial about being a member?

I have known about the Lakewood Arts Council and Co-op for half a decade or more. But the old location did not work very well for me. As a resident of Wheat Ridge, the Lamar Station location is convenient.

Membership in the Co-op brings opportunities to learn what fellow co-op artists are creating. Learning from others is a big draw to a co-op. There is so much to share about styles of art making, subject mater, materials, and showing. It is an all around educational experience and a good-fit community.

6.What’s next on the horizon?

“Next on the horizon” means delving deeper into the medium. I have much to learn about handling the tools of watercolor. The qualities of paint, paper, water saturation, and handling of brushes are diverse, and will keep me studying for a lifetime.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gardens Galore -- at the LAC 2015 Garden Tour

The Lakewood Arts Council's Annual Garden Tour started out with a preview tour for all volunteers who made this year's event a success, from the hosts, to the garden sitters, to the event organizers, Ann Quinn and Marje Walsh.  A big thanks to all who helped!  Funds raised from the Garden Tour are going to pay for signage for the Gallery.

To allow all volunteers the chance to see all the gardens, we met Friday evening at the Estate Garden on Lakeridge Rd in Lakewood, the home of lovely Sue Cannon, who I enjoyed chatting with during my shift the next day.  Sue and her friendly dog, along with her gardener, Suzanne, showed us around the extensive grounds which included a water lily pond, the Circle Garden with its patch of columbine, a rose garden and a collection of sculptures by well-known modern artists.  We were amused to see a wren had nested in the mouth of "Running for the Bus" by her son, Kerry Cannon.

After touring the gardens, we were all ready for
the official tour on Saturday.  During my morning shift, over 80 people came through, thoroughly enjoying the beautiful weather and delighting in the flourishing gardens.  From bonsai and sculptures, to a glass studio, working miniature railroad and bountiful vegetable gardens, ticket holders were educated, inspired and renewed by their day among the plants.

Succulent gardens lined a pathway, a simple toolbox projected an artistic flair, creative stepping stone footpaths led through gardens, and hanging sculptures twirled in the breeze.

One little cat desperately wanted to join us, but his likeness graced the greenery instead.

 Taking in the Gray Street Community Garden, I enjoyed the colorful bee hives amongst the cheerful poppies, and the pretty garden flag painted by an LAC member.  These flags were given as gifts to the hosts, and more are for sale at the gallery.
Not to be missed was the delicious luncheon prepared by volunteers, and included in the ticket price. 

The patio behind the Gallery was also spruced up for al fresco dining.
Urban Roots Landscape Design also offered advice on container gardening for all visitors to the Gallery. 
 Now we're looking forward to next year's Garden Tour.  If you know of anyone wanting to open their gardens for next year's tour, let the LAC know, and may you all be inspired to grow something new!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cats on Display

"What greater gift than the love of a cat".  Charles Dickens was right!  And in return for that love of a cat, many people are out to help the Cat Care Society raise funds to aid in the care of their shelter cats and kittens.  Local artists donate their time to paint a large fiberglass cat form that has been purchased with the aid of sponsors, local establishments will display the cats as they travel around Colorado, and finally the fundraising gala will auction off these beauties.

The Lakewood Arts Council is the first stop of on their tour.  And are they magnificent! They get more creative every year.  Stop in the gallery to see the Tails of the Painted Cats as well as the exhibit of Cats, Dogs and Birds in the LAC's Acorn Gallery through the month of June.

Jane Dorsey's "Africat" has amazing detail from all sides!
"Flat Cats" will also be auctioned off at the main event.