Pensacola, Florida
Sunday August 18th 2019

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How Grows It?

By Shelby Smithey

Artel Gallery’s newest exhibition challenged artists across the community to submit works inspired by gardens and what makes them thrive—literally and metaphorically.

Artel Gallery President, Suzanne Robbert, said that Exhibition Director, Joseph Smith, created this theme.

“It is challenging to continuously think up new themes to inspire artists,” Robbert said. “He knew this theme would reach a wide variety of artists, as it can be taken very literally like those that chose to create works with flowers or vegetables. But, it can also inspire those artists to produce a more metaphorical representation of a garden like a relationship or a community.”

Robbert said that the artists’ submissions did not disappoint. J.O. Zachow, who has been serving on the Artel board since 2000, chose the winners.

“We had 153 wonderful submissions and 65 are in the show,” Robbert said. “The juror, J.O. Zachow, did an outstanding job creating a cohesive show that represents the theme in various ways. Even the literal translations of gardens have the experimental twist Artel likes to encourage artists to explore.”

For example, one piece by Bruno Von Holzenwall, depicts a gardener watering her lawn, but the gardener is a skeleton, and her garden is a cemetery. Another by Kris Bilhorn is an homage to Giuseppe Arcimboldo with a watercolor portrait made of vegetables.

Robbert said that some artists chose to express political viewpoints or issues affecting us as a community. Randy Morris gives his interpretation of the current presidential candidates. Deyane Moses created a 3D work in response to the recent shootings.

“The sculpture is called ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye’ because when things are going terribly wrong, and you can’t control it people usually say ‘put your head in between your legs and just kiss your ass goodbye’,” Moses said. “And that’s basically what America has come to because there is no true safe place for anyone these days. The bullets inside the sculpture are a pictorial representation of being pumped full of lead.”

Moses said that the sculpture is formed to make the shape of the ‘A’ for America as well as representing someone putting their head between their knees.  The grass with burnt pieces of the LGBT and American flags represent the actions happening on American soil.

“The piece was inspired by the Orlando shooting, as well as the overall killing of African Americans in the U.S.,” Moses said. “The piece was actually created for my sculpture class at Pensacola State College with the Artel show in mind. I’m a photography major, so this was my first attempt at this medium.”

Moses, a U.S. Army veteran, will graduate in December with an A.S. in Photographic Technologies.

“My culture really inspires my art,” Moses said. “While taking classes and reading books about famous artists, I noticed there wasn’t any mention of African Americans. So I started doing my own research and learned there are legends of all ethnicities. With that being said, I try to include African Americans as much as I can in my work. I believe that the presence of all cultures should be seen as mainstream and not rare, so I’m starting with my own.”

Moses hopes to continue her education at MICA in Baltimore next year.

“We were excited to see that artists took this seemingly straightforward theme and chose to take it in multiple directions,” Robbert said. “Artel is thrilled to show off these artists talents.”

Robbert said that there are a variety of mediums and styles including paintings, photography, sculptures, found objects and mosaics being represented in the show.

“The only medium we discouraged is living organisms or something that can rot, like fruit,” she said. “Bugs become an issue. Ironically that would have fit the theme perfectly.”

Robbert said that this show also united many well-known local artists including Chip Spirson and Diane Brim, as well as newcomers like Davis Allen and Deyane Moses.

“I would have to guess that many of these artists garden or would like to garden with all the beautiful colors and patterns it creates,” she said. “Billie Bailey of Bailey’s Farmers Market is a great example of an exhibiting gardener.”

The placement winners are Best of Show, Nikki Strahota, First Place, Anne Baehr, Second Place, Davis Allen, Third Place, Kris Billhorn, Most Experimental, Nate Lyle. Honorable Mentions are Pat Hayes, Dottie King, and Sally Miller.

“The Best of Show winner will be awarded her own solo show in the Award Alcove and the placement winners get ultimate bragging rights because this was a very competitive show,” Robbert said.

Announcements and raffle prizes will be at 7 p.m. during the opening reception.

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
WHEN: On view through Aug. 19; Opening reception 6 p.m., Thursday, July 21
WHERE: Artel Gallery, 223 S. Palafox
COST: Free
DETAILS: artelgallery.org

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Don’t miss Artel’s three other exhibitions currently on display through Aug. 19. The opening reception for these shows will also be Thursday, July 21.

In The Vault:
PROSEPECTIVES by Jon Proctor
Walk into The Vault and enjoy ‘Prospectives’ in metallic angles, fluid curves and sharp corners, a fun experience, and different dimensional experience.

In the Award Alcove:
LOST RIVER CHRONICLES by Pat Regan
For three years Regan has documented the Perdido River and surrounding forest with paintings, sculpture and diary entries. Regan was the Best of Show from Artel’s “Take Me Home” exhibition.

In the Lobby:
TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS by the children of Challenge Farm
A fundraising exhibit by Kenyan orphans that allows viewers to enjoy the wonderful colors, images, and messages of these young artists. 100 percent sales go to Challenge Farm.

Challenge Farm is a home and school that feeds, clothes, nurtures and provides 24/7 care to more than 175 children in Kitale, Kenya. The children have been rescued from a life of hopelessness where each day meant searching for food, fighting for survival and doing whatever they could to deal with the rejection and sense of worthlessness they felt. They are loved, fed, educated, mentored and allowed to be children again. We have a preschool, elementary school, technical and agricultural training, church, library, counseling center and music program.