Fine Arts: ‘Mystery’ at The Straube Center

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Although “Mystery,” the current exhibit at The Straube Center, is mounted in two separate buildings on the Straube campus, it holds together as one. You can go from one building to the other without losing a sense of the ethereal subject matter in each. Both are about healing and going deeper into oneself to explore the mystery and spirituality within.

It is Joy Sacalis’ belief that humans are a mystery always “questioning and seeking the unknown.” She says her paintings seek further questions rather than answers as they explore vibrations of color, synchronicities, the kinetic nature of air, and the healing properties of sound and dance, among many others.

“Bubble Music” is a happy dance of color and shapes where an arrow points you in one direction, a ribbon of color leads you in another and bubble-like shapes dance all over the place.

In “Kinetic Dance,” done in acrylics and collaged with beads and semi-precious stones, a twirling and turning string of white pigment sets in visual motion clusters of beads and jewel-toned stones on their painted scarlet bed surrounded by a black and magenta miasma.

In her posted Bio, Sacalis says her work reflects her interest “in our innate ability to heal through art and music.” She never puts her pieces under glass. “It’s important to me to be able to feel each of my paintings. I like the immediacy of being able to run my fingers over a piece like you would a tapestry,” she says.

 

It’s easy to imagine the pleasure the artist must feel every time she runs her hand across the surface of a pair of her paintings called “Synchronicities.” And they do synchronize. The are both built layer upon layer of acrylic and oil, gold leaf and other collaged materials.

She also includes gold leaf, along with acrylic paint and collage, in her dramatic “Green Cosmos.” This is the kind of painting you could spend time with over and over again and still find new things happening. Although the surface is flat and covered with streaks, swirls and splashes, because it is layered, there is depth drawing your eye in through colorful effervescence to the mystery you might find deep in the black hole just above center.

P. D. Swelt works primarily in watercolors, but says she also enjoys working in collage, and mixed media. She titles her section of this Mystery exhibit “Expressions” and most of the works on display are a combination of collage and mixed media.

As soon as you enter you see a fine example of the imaginative way she works in collage.   “Party Time” is a fun tumble of purple wine bottles, bright blue goblets and sand colored bowls tossed helter-skelter across a black background. But then you come upon a more subtle way she handles collage. For this, “Yellow Flowers,” she placed a crinkled transparent film over the still life of yellow and orange blooms.

 

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