Pensacola, Florida
Monday December 17th 2018


For The Love of Art (and Food)

By Shelby Smithey

Opposites Attract
We live in a world of dichotomies. Fire and water, light and dark, straight and curvy; these contrasts in nature have inspired a special exhibit where local artists define their own ideas of opposition.

Artel Gallery’s exhibit Polar Opposites will be on view until Feb. 17, with an opening reception, Thursday, Jan. 19.

Best in Show winner Joy Sims created a Yin Yang glass sculpture to represent one of the ultimate forms of contrast.

“The Yin Yang symbol really represents polar opposites to me,” Sims said. “It is two opposite but complementary energies that are interdependent.”

Sims has been creating stained and etched glass art for over 25 years. She is self-taught through exploration of the medium, its qualities, as well as its limitations.

“I use glass as my medium: stained glass, etched glass or sandblasting, slumped and fused glass,” she said. “I love to create flowers, geometric and abstract designs.  Recently I have begun creating 3-D sculptures in glass.”

This is Sims first Best in Show award. She has works for sale at Oooodles, does commissioned work and gives classes in her studio in Lilian, AL.

“I often participate in the juried shows at Artel Gallery, and recently I won Honorable Mention there for one of my stained glass sculptures,” she said.  “I also had a featured show at Quayside Gallery with my two artist sisters.  In October I will be a guest artist during a studio tour in Nashville, Indiana and am planning a solo show in Mobile in 2018.”

Local artist Nate Lyle uses spray paint and found objects to create sharp geometric patterns and vibrant works of art. He has been painting for seven years.

“My piece “Snakes and Sparklers” has patterns that look like snake skin and fireworks throughout the straight line and circle patterns,” Lyle said. “The opposite shapes and patterns fit into the theme perfectly in my eyes.”

Lyle’s work is hanging in The Tin Cow, and all of his pieces are for sale along with commission work and murals.

This Artist’s Cookbook
Don’t leave without visiting the Award Alcove, where Artel Gallery President Suzanne Robbert’s exhibit of artistic hors d’oeuvres will be on display. Her technique may be traditional, but her collection of oil paintings is unconventional, including compositions of food, silverware and dishes.

Robbert said that the inspiration for “This Artist’s Cookbook” came, surprisingly, from wanting to paint something using a bright turquoise green.

“The only thing I could think of was mint chocolate chip ice cream,” she said. “I bought the gnarliest, cheapest fluorescent green ice cream to paint from so that I wouldn’t eat it.  I ate the whole tub.  I discovered how much fun it was to capture the drips, the teeth marks, and the ridiculousness of using a fork, the urge it gave me to eat fluorescent ice cream.”

Robbert usually paints from the real thing, but also takes a photo of the still life and brings it up on her computer screen so that she literally surrounds herself with her subject.

“Painting food (or lack of) for ‘This Artist’s Cookbook’ evolved into simple, yet detailed images,” Robbert said. “They each have a personal meaning to me, but each still can be enjoyed as simply a painting of fruit and snacks.”

There are eight works in the show, six of which Robbert created within the last three months.

“I’m a tediously slow painter, but this show forced me to paint faster and in a more minimalist manner, a technique I’ve always longed to acquire,” she said.

Robbert began painting as a young child and said that she was very lucky to have parents that encouraged her to keep painting and drawing.

“My mother is an artist and trained me in many techniques, but I received formal studies from Spring Hill College in Mobile. Today, though, mom remains my best critic and teacher.”

“I have worked with different media over the years, but always come back to oils,” Robbert said. “There is something about their lusciousness, history, smell and feel that make them very enticing. I even like the tubes. I have a couple of artist cases from two grandmothers and those old tubes of oil look like works of art themselves. I wrongly judge oils by how intricately designed the tube is in hopes that my paintings will be better. That doesn’t always work.”

Robbert said that her favorite painting from this exhibit is the one of an empty plate, and how that emptiness translates into other forms of lacking in life.

“I joke a lot about eating my subject matter and often mock with the use of pretentious tableware for junk foods, but that painting all in white, of an empty cracked plate, represents emptiness, the emptiness of stomach, heart, wallet, or life that everyone has felt or that some always feel,” she said.

In collaboration with “This Artist’s Cookbook,” Artel is offering its own cookbook, “Vexactious Victuals.” This collection of recipes submitted by Artel supporters and board members will be on sale at the Alcove.  All sales will go to the gallery.

One more exhibit—Luminous Language by Karen and Randy Morris—will also be opening tonight and on display through mid-Feb. in The Vault.

WHAT: Three new exhibitions at Artel Gallery
WHEN: Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19; exhibits open through Feb. 17
WHERE: Artel Gallery, 223 S. Palafox
COST: Free