Harrison Ave is an oasis of local art in South Boston. I have had luck in the past here covering the exhibit of of David Martsolf as well as Corporeal Constructions. Every first Friday of the month the galleries of Harrison Ave hold their open studios that invite the public to view the new exhibitions of the month.
Because I found such great art on my last visit, I found myself checking out the new exhibit at Galatea. Paula Estey’s work is featured in this month. Paula uses mixed media, image transfers poetic language to convey the stories of her own relationships amongst family and friends.
“I’ve been using a lot of different methods. I use collage with opposing pictures and opposing textures and then I paint on top and whatever else seems to suit it.”
“I opposed the even texture at first because I’ve seen painters use polyurethane and I felt like it was cheating for the mixed media artists because it does make people feel more comfortable because of the smooth edges. But then I experimented with it and liked it.”
“Photo transfer is like the bastard child of fine art. I’ve decided to fully embrace it because I’ve been a painter for 15 years and it’s like ‘I’m going to use whatever I want to use! In however I want to use it and not call it anything but my painting. It gets really snotty out there”
“I do feel like they are slightly mournful. And they are nostalgic because these are excavated from my own snap shots collected from the family.”
“But I have re done them in a way that is meaningful to me. These are all pictures from my family, and some of them I don’t know exactly what happened but I’m imagining that I do.”
“I love this one because he is pushing her slightly forward into the picture and I tried to excentuate that and she’s not willing but he’s the one who looks so confident. And I love how is foot is outside of the border and how the trees intersect with their belts.”
“I really like to work with photographs because for that split second I get to really know what that was. And not only do I suppose what it was, but then I get to recreate it, because I’m adding color.I get to do that and mix it up.”
“And all the words are from poems that I’ve already written. And I never knew how to incorporate words with paintings. So this is really a first for that too.”
“And it’s slightly sinister. ‘On the road you come to a place where no light is.’ Because I know what happens to him. I know what happens to his youth. So I didn’t want it to be all great.”
Paula’s upcoming work sounds promising as she looks forward to experimenting with more poetic references as well as large installations.
“For the last two years I’ve been working on this 6 foot piece that goes with poems that I wrote and I’m half way through, so that’s a big project. And another thing I’m working on that I’d really like to show sometime is I wrote 365 poems after my mother died sort of like one each day and how you have to get through it.”
“And I’m painting them on fabric so that it looks like sheets blowing in the wind. So it will be an installation that will have the feel of a mother’s voice reading the kids to sleep.”
In the same gallery that night I ran into Ed Friedman, the talented photographer who subjects are plastic manikins. His photographs raise questions about objectivity as Friedman admits he tends to posit human emotion onto the manikins.
“ I wait for something to draw my attention. I don’t often think about things before, although sometimes I do. These, they were just weird. If it’s weird enough, well I’ll take a picture of it.”
“I found these in Cape Town so I know I wasn’t going to be getting back to it anytime soon. They were just figures on a bench. Three of them were together and I took individual pictures of them. So for this show I did them in black and white. They all had backgrounds that I had to get rid of. This one had to be cleaned up.”
“These were actually shot with a D200. And some of these actually had some manipulation. There’s one with one figure who is up front looking at two in the back that I actually did some photoshop rearrangements to.”
“But they all have personalities. My first title for the show was ‘I walk with dummies’ and then it’s like ‘well that’s kind of disrespectful to the dummies’, because I think of them sort of as people with feelings so I renamed it plastic visions.”
Walking into Summer Wheat’s gallery is like walking into an alternate dimension of distorted shapes and faces. Somewhere between terrifying and hilarious, her paintings neither seem human or animal but personified paint marks. What really caught my attention was her amazing sculpture imitating the famous painting The Luncheon.
“I had always done the painted weave on the canvas and one day I decided I wanted to bring it out into a real dimension and create an actual blanket out of it. And that’s how it started.”
“And then I was actually making food for a couple years, like sculpted food and I wasn’t really sure why and then I kept making the food and then one day it was really intuitive and accidental but then I started putting the food on the blanket and then I was thinking about the Luncheon and the grass.”
“Sort of became a really intuitive response to things I didn’t necessarily of plan. And I began thinking about the context of that painting and how controversial it was. And I wanted to recreate it but also make them like bank robbers, which is why there is money buried in the soil. They were in their day scoundrels so I was thinking about what they’d be like today. Like how they would be scoundrels today.”
“I want them all to be funny. I want them all to be funny but serious at the same time. Like that is sore of take on things. To make something really funny but really serious at the same time and carry off that contradiction at the same time is very challenging.”
Photography by Nabeela Vega
450 HARRISON AVE
BOSTON MA 02118
OPEN THRU FEB