There is a distinct difference between fine art and fun art—exactly three letters (“i,” “e” and “u”). “I” is for imagination, “e” is for energy, and “u” is for you—audience appreciation.
Carlisle Art Learning Center (CALC) provided all three at opening night festivities this past Friday. The G.B. Stuart Gallery downstairs presented 33 works by local artists who passed muster for entry into the juried show, “On Thin Ice.” Meanwhile, the Upstairs Gallery addressed a social issue tackled by art anthropologist Carrie Breschi and a cadre of art colleagues.
The title for this blog sounds like it might be an ad for L’Oreal but it’s not—it tackles a more serious subject. “What I have, they used to call the blues,” crooned Karen Carpenter back in 1971.
It occurs every year at the time of the winter solstice around Dec. 21, when the sun does not rise above the horizon. Sounds ominous, right? In reality, it affects about 10 million Americans annually, myself among them. The culprit is Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD. For millennials affected with SAD, picture the normally bright, sunny, smiling emoji looking pale and wan. I use both adjectives to make a point. With one spin of the color spectrum at “Untamed Color,” not only does its color return to that golden hue, but it is flashing a big thumbs up.
Breschi, co-founder of the organization and education center/gallery, has hand-selected an aggregate of artists—Allen, Oakes, Reed, Rook and Stone. This CALC consortium sounds like a crack team of lawyers but, in truth, they are SAD-busters. Breschi and team know full well that the bleak days of winter take their toll on the human psyche. “Untamed Color” is truly a call to arms for an optic approach to mood brightening. The artists have created an installation in which color runs riot in an interactive gallery designed to chase Ol’ Man Winter out for good.
The “Untamed Colors” arcade of art features Cathy Stone’s “Paint-ULUM,” a whirligig push and paint pinioned by a paintbrush tripod, so that patrons can create their own radial rhombus (pictured). Supervised on opening night by Lanik Minaya, the ever-spinning mechanism never tired, indefatigably illustrious, taking on a life of its own. Artist Aron Rook took the high road to fantasy with her fine art, “Allegro,” an acrylic-on-wood panel in sumptuous shades of sherbet (it made me wistful for flora and fauna in a sauna). Somehow she agreed. We must be from the same school of fish.
Thomas Oakes’ “Time to Play,” a multi-colored playground, incorporated spinning wheels, movable magnets and an interactive galaxy designed for fun. All were created from found objects, including cast-off storage bin baskets. Deb Allen’s “Wild Spots” has a polka-dotted pup (think of a playful Dalmatian whose pigmentation portrays every color imaginable), capturing your heart as a plush toy personified. She was joined by Breschi making “Joie’ de Vivre” streamers splendid of paint-dripped splatters. Breschi continued her art in a colorful corner with multiple casts of her hands holding a rainbow of sponge balls in “Carpe Diem,” urging others to seize the day and chase the blues away. Carol Reed’s “Random Acts” integrates mellow yellow and outrageous orange with singing suns and lit lanterns, as well as an orange-netted divan for sitting on and sipping an Orange Crush.
If all of that doesn’t work somehow, in extreme cases, perhaps broad-spectrum light therapy is needed to allow the skin to produce vitamin D, since this vitamin deficiency triggers cases of SAD. As for me, I have now graduated from light therapy to “write therapy,” and it seems to be working.
“Untamed Color” runs through Feb. 1, with a special interactive “Make, Shake and Take Day” on Jan. 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., free to the public, and children especially are invited to participate in this color extravaganza. For more information, visit www.carlislearts.org.
Part II: (The After Party at) Metropolis: “A Wintry Mix 5”
Pulling up outside Metropolis Collective, an art crowd had filtered out the front lobby’s door, taking a break from the music while, inside, the buzz was heady with art that had escaped from the walls. Twenty artists, exploring the limits of normalcy, pushed that notion off the ledge in this latest exhibit.
All artists represented share a similar point of view, advancing the idea that art makes its own rules. It was opening night for “A Wintry Mix 5” at Metropolis in Mechanicsburg. A major draw was the appearance and art of local legends, Zack Rudy and Garrick Dorsett, aka the Huckle Buckle Boys (HBB). Call their brand outsider art, raw art, marginal art, whatever—it is truly their own. When art spills out of the imagination onto the canvas and it is unlike anything else seen before, it doesn’t need a copyright because the works themselves are truly identifiable, as are the artists’ fingerprints—no two alike. Rudy and Dorsett fit that category, and their art is categorically channeled: chaotic and calm at the same time. Their paintings portray portals to vistas vast and varied.
The team of owner Richard Reilly and gallery director Hannah Dobek divided and conquered with Reilly, a rock-and-roller himself, overseeing the stage of rock-e-teers, while Dobek did double-duty as hostess and artist-in-residence. They have assembled an army of auteurs loaded with their own arsenal of art. Without Dobek’s influence holding sway at Metropolis, the underpinnings of multiple mediums (music, art, entertainment) may break loose from their moorings and create a murky miasma that runs pell-mell over the streets of Mechanicsburg.
Dorsett and Rudy enlisted early on in the concept of their art armory, unleashing their own brand of subversive subterranean art for the collective. In the latest show, “A Wintry Mix,” they demonstrate a force that even the “Star Wars” storm troopers can’t repel. Dobek co-opts a milieu darkly Lynchian with her subtly subversive studies of the seamy underbelly of a Main Street America that has gone looking for itself in the rearview mirror. Evening highlights were HBB’s, “Just A Bird Being a Bird,” Nicole Dube’s “The Red Mistake” (a doppelganger of Bonnie Parker from Bonnie and Clyde fame dressed with a red beret) and Mark May’s “Boxed.” Reilly was ever-present as the evening’s entertainment hit overdrive and high-energy rock pulsed from the rear stage, set on a cavernous causeway, allowing Johnny 5 and The Flyin’ Helos to land their band, which experienced liftoff all night long.
Metropolis is a city unto itself, where characters come and go, passing through the turnstiles of time, some more comfortable climbing up walls as paintings and some just as onlookers to a scene from a movie that is playing in their minds. For an insider’s view to outsider art, check out the vibe at Metropolis. You just might expand your mind and your mien.
“A Wintry Mix” runs through Feb. 21 at Metropolis Collective, 17 W. Main St., Mechanicsburg. For more information, visit www.metropoliscollective.com.