Art Center Sarasota’s
New Exhibitions: August 27-September 30
Curated by Art Center Sarasota’s exhibition curator Dustin Juengel, this exhibit unites four global artists with a unique relationship to the written word.
Mary Kelsey and Steve Cagan exhibit drawings and photographs that document traditional, artisanal gold mining in the rainforests of El Chocó, Colombia. The artists examine the cultural, social, environmental and economic effects of newer and more destructive mechanized gold mining practices.
A Student Project by Scott Bell
This FSU graduate student’s work addresses the history of the suburban movement and American ideals of expansion across the natural world.
An open, all-media, all-subject, juried exhibition
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 27, 5-7 p.m.
(Sarasota, FL) Art Center Sarasota’s 2014-2015 exhibition season, entitled “Merging Parallels,” concludes with four exhibits, which run August 27 through September 30. “Character,” in Gallery 1, unites four artists from across the globe whose works reveal a unique relationship to the written word. “El Chocó,” in Gallery 2, features the work of Steve Cagan and Mary Kelsey, documentary artists who use drawing and photography to document the lives of artisan gold miners in El Chocó, Colombia, and the impact of foreign industrial mining companies on their way of life. “Closer Consideration,” in Gallery 3, is a special student project that addresses the history of the suburban movement and American ideals of expansion across the natural world by FSU graduate student Scott Bell. “Untitled,” in Gallery 4, is an open, all-media, all-subject, juried exhibition. The opening reception for all four exhibits is Thursday, August 27, 5-7 p.m. Art Center Sarasota is located at 707 N. Tamiami Trail, in Sarasota. For more information, call 941-365-2032 or visit www. artsarasota.org.
“Character,” curated by Art Center Sarasota exhibition curator, Dustin Juengel, unites four artists from across the globe whose works each reveal a unique relationship to the written word. “These four artists are not only separated by geography,” says Juengel, “they’re also separated in age by more than four decades. However, clear links can be discovered between their diverse bodies of work. Each reveals a different relationship to the written word, yet all incorporate it into their practice in a natural, seemingly effortless manner.” He explains that Hyun Woo Lee lives in Seoul, South Korea; Christofer Degrér lives in Stockholm, Sweden; Jenny Vu lives in Portland, Oregon; and Peter Gaztambide lives in Punta Gorda. Jenny Vu and Christofer Degrér each graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design.
How does their work touch upon the written word?
“Woo combines speech and subtitles in his video works,” says Juengel. “He breathes a sense of humanity into technology.” He adds that Vu’s cartoonish images merge with text in a brash message of youthful energy. Juengel also observers that Gaztambide, “employs text as another abstract element in his mixed media works. Fragments of text offer a point of entry into his abstract pictorial language.” He adds that Degrér’s playful, digital compositions make the distinction between image and text a thing of the past. “Text gets treated as image or depicted objects may contain text,” he says. “This drastically reduces the time that text tends to demand from the reader/viewer. Instead, visual content can be absorbed with the immediacy we’ve gotten used to in this digital age.”
“El Chocó” documents traditional artisanal gold mining in the rainforests of El Chocó, Colombia, with detailed drawings by Mary Kelsey and powerful photographs by Steve Cagan. While honoring this timeless tradition, these Cleveland-based artists also examine the cultural, social, environmental and economic effects of newer and more destructive mechanized gold mining practices. There are 21 pieces in the exhibition.
“To work in the field, making drawings from the life of people engaged in meaningful interaction with their world captivates me,” says Kelsey. “The limitations of pen and ink make this an intriguing challenge. It’s also a privilege to be invited into the lives and struggles we witness.”
Cagan says that his central concern is “to produce work that engages people on an esthetic or formal level, but also on the level of content. I want to produce images that provide cultural nourishment to viewers, but also provoke them to want to act. Esthetic and social concerns are inseparable for me. This project has given me the opportunity to work in a way that combines those esthetic and social concerns, to produce work that both engages viewers and is useful to the people in the images and their communities. It would be hard to ask for more.”
The artists state that they wish to, “provoke curiosity about the issues we’re documenting. We hope people will want to learn more and to understand how these issues affect their own lives. We can’t provide answers, but we hope our work will raise questions.” Kelsey adds that they hope to provoke viewers to, “think about similar issues here in our own country, such as the way fracking for natural gas pits economic opportunity against long-term environmental costs. We’d also like to inspire people to consider how visual media can be used in social explorations and investigations.”
Cagan has been photographing the volatile region of El Chocó since 2003. Kelsey’s more recent paintings and drawings explore relationships between people and their environment. Her work in Latin American rain forests has been exhibited in several cities and publications. Among their numerous awards and recognitions, Kelsey has had a Fulbright Fellowship, and Cagan has had two, for their work in Latin America.
In “Closer Consideration,” an Art Center Sarasota student project, FSU graduate student Scott Bell addresses the history of the suburban movement and American ideals of expansion across the natural world. The exhibition comprises 12 large-scale oil paintings with sculptural elements. “Through my paintings and sculptural assemblages, I hope to offer a sense of self-reflection that turns the viewer’s attentions inward,” says Bell. “Ideally, the viewer will slow down their contemplation of their surrounding landscapes, and begin to question their life in conjunction with their environments.” Bell is a native Floridian who received his BFA from the University of North Florida and is currently pursuing his MFA at Florida State University. He has won several academic awards and has had numerous solo and group exhibitions across the nation. Find out more at www.scottbellart.com.
“Untitled” is an open, all-media, all-subject, juried exhibition. Hand-carried submissions will be accepted at Art Center Sarasota on August 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The jurors for this exhibition are Vladislav Yeliseyev, artist and director of Renaissance School of Art and Rita Rust, director of Art Uptown and a watercolor artist.
For more information about Art Center Sarasota, call 941-365-2032 or visit www.artsarasota.org.
About Art Center Sarasota
Art Center Sarasota was the first arts and cultural institution in Sarasota. It was founded in 1926 as the “Sarasota Art Association” by Marcia Rader, the art supervisor for the Sarasota County schools district. In the early years, the group met monthly and sponsored exhibits in rented facilities. The Association was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1943 and has been in its current location in the Sarasota Bayfront Cultural District since 1949. Art Center Sarasota is now a membership-based organization that offers curated and juried exhibitions, adult and youth education programs, outreach initiatives for underserved youth, and culturally related public programming. Art Center Sarasota’s mission is to inspire individual creative expression, nurture artistic talent and provide the community with accessible and diverse visual art opportunities.
Art Center Sarasota
707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: 941-365-2032 § Fax: 941-366-0585
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday