Art lovers are no different than film lovers, music lovers, book lovers and the list goes on. No matter the discipline, great artists find their niche and stay true to that vision. It becomes their signature style, immediately recognizable as theirs and theirs alone. Think of Quentin Tarantino in film, Florence and the Machine in music and Edgar Allan Poe in literature (after all, Poe is timeless).
Pamela J. Black, prolific painter of beguiling backdrops that adorn homes and businesses up and down the Eastern seaboard, falls into that category of instantly recognizable. The subdued statement of colors, soft and serene, is immediately identifiable as a Pamela J. Black creation. She works from an ever-changing palette of seasonal colors and often from a select grouping defined by her clientele’s needs in commissioned pieces. It’s easy to lose oneself when looking at Pamela’s paintings. They draw you into the possibilities of what can be in their shades, shapes and subtleties.
The third Friday in August took us to Cornerstone Coffeehouse in Camp Hill. It marked our first “3rd in the Boro,” where we caught up with Pamela’s exhibition that runs through August before traveling across the river to land at Cafe 1500 in time for fall.
Pamela’s palette takes colors of the summer found within the Great Barrier Reef in Australia–sea foam, coral, aqua and turquoise all awash in the shades of the season reflected on the ocean’s surface. A cohesive grouping of 13 paintings comprises the Cornerstone collection, which includes two larger works. Black’s addition of vibrant colors to the mix expands an otherwise restrained range into one of bidirectional bounty. “Another Story,” an apropos title for a painting that is dramatic with its incorporation of indigo, autumn gold and a softer shade of blue, scatters the three like a storm sweeping across the ocean out of nowhere. One can only begin to grasp its meaning up close, drawn into the eye of swirling symbolism. “Invisible” is built on imagery bold and boundless, balancing red and blue as if on a seesaw to determine which will come out on top. Putting aside their “primary” differences, they join efforts to attain peaceful harmony for the benefit of all.
With fluid acrylics, the images appear to float on the paper or canvas as if a leaf, newly wet from rain, fell to the page and remained. Those images start from a “random point, a mark on the canvas” and evolve into timeless tropes. Black acknowledges that the process in creating her art is a natural path of evolvement in that it all comes out in the wash. The “wash” is the application of the acrylic paints once they dissipate in water for a perfect formula that gives her the texture and tones she desires. Her abstract approach to art is anything but. Aspects of movement and expression are conveyed from an intentional point of origin but then take on a life of their own. Her paintings indulge imagination and appeal to a wide variety of tastes. She remains steadfast and true to her vision creating variations on a theme, yet each work is uniquely individual. A sense of calm pervades every frame with a soothing quality that speaks to the viewer’s inner appreciation of beauty. Black espouses a painterly philosophy revealing the heart of a poet when she shares that, “My paintings serve as a reflection of my soul’s landscape.” She is “fueled by the need to find a sense of balance between chaos and control.”
Her caring nature extends beyond that philosophy as she puts thoughts into action. Giving to worthy causes for the good of the community is a priority for Pamela. Proceeds of some of her art sales recently went to aid the YWCA Greater Harrisburg, an organization near and dear to her.
Awards and accolades locally and on a national scale pay tribute to an artist that has achieved the recognition through hard work and loving what she does. Graduating from Kutztown with a BFA in 2007 found her next five years teaching elementary art while attaining her master’s degree in education. For now, Black’s studio at Millworks #322 is temporarily closed, but that does not stop the process of creation. Since the closure, she has immersed herself in her paintings, aided by two assistants at her home studio. Her two young children help her in the meaning and motivation. Pamela is vitally aware of time management as she paints while the kids nap. She recently was part of a juried show at Cerulean Arts in Philadelphia and is the featured artist in the art opus, PIKCHUR Magazine, Vol. 8. In addition, the San Francisco-based design platform, Wescover, showcases her art for sale in its myriad presentations. Society 6 features the gamut from note cards, bar stools, throw pillows, coffee mugs and even credenzas, all with Pamela’s imprimatur of art. Her signature style greatly lends itself to objets d’ art used in everyday life.
Black’s goal is to give her audience the same sense of calm and peace that she feels when she paints. Her work centers her wholly like the gravitational pull of nature in righting itself after a storm, a feeling of renewal, refreshed to begin again. Fall under the spell of the paintings, to write your own story of what you see before you. To fully appreciate her work, one needs to see the paintings in person while they are on the menu for August exclusively at Cornerstone Coffeehouse. For art is subjective by design, and Black provides the necessary ingredients in one complete package always to be savored like a fine wine.