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Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010

Catch Two Great Exhibits at Tory Folliard Gallery

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Two artists, two mediums—one uses sensual form, the other luscious color. Both artists, Susan Stamm Evans and Lon Michels, are featured in exhibitions at Tory Folliard Gallery through Sept. 4.

In the main gallery, “Susan Stamm Evans: Bronze and Porcelain” displays serene figurative and fragmented sculptures explored through a restricted palette. The featured sculptures—both free-standing and wall-mounted—express the artist’s aptitude for revealing the human form, especially the face. Instead of showing faces straight on or in full view, Evans accentuates the features—eyes, lips, noses and chins—that best communicate the relationships or emotions she wants to convey.

Evans’ Connections series portrays the silhouette or shape of a face against hand-painted canvas stretched over a wooden frame, with faces frequently placed within a rectangular niche created in the canvas. Against the marble-colored canvas, the porcelain forms envision smooth, carved stone. This contemporary presentation resembles statuary placed in sacred niches at cathedrals or temples. The often-androgynous features evoke a reverence for the human body, and will readily engage reflective viewers.

The East Gallery’s “Lon Michels” exhibit encompasses acrylic paintings celebrating riotous colors and patterns, often amid an homage to art history. Incorporating still life, landscape and figurative genres, Michels transforms his canvases with unexpected surface decorations.

By applying intricate and repeating patterns, Michels imbues these paintings with layers of visual appeal. When viewed from a distance, one sees a cohesive narrative. When studied up close, new, imaginative details emerge. In Michels’ Modern Day Olympia,his tribute to Manet’s odalisque, he twists the nudity to the male figure while the woman remains fully dressed, down to her stylish high heels. Whether noting the fruit tray on the floor or the vase held in the man’s hands, viewers will marvel at the painting’s color handling, all of which is accomplished without previous sketching.

Michels recently recovered from a disease that resulted in blindness, and his exuberance in working again permeates his paintings. One walks away in amazement at the artist’s technique in these visual feasts for the eyes.