insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the month “November, 2007”

Holiday Open House TOMORROW!

Deck the WALLS with amazing contemporary artwork…

Just a reminder that NKG’s Holiday Open House happens tomorrow afternoon, December 1, 2007 from 4-7pm. Come celebrate the holiday season with us! The Third Annual Attainable Art Show features a variety of artwork under $1500 available for purchase, from both local and international artists. Holiday goodies and drinks will be served. See you all tomorrow!

Nevin Kelly Gallery
1517 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
T: 202.232.3464
F: 202.232.3465

Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle (red line) and U Street/Cardozzo (green line).

Lyrical Collagist Rocks DC (and your inner soul?)

Pictured in this Entry: (1) Duplex and Concentric Green, 2007, mixed media on plywood, 21 x 25 in and (2) Duplex I, 2007, mixed media on plywood, 21 x 25 in

Let’s take a closer look at Chilean-born, Washington DC based, lyrical mylar collage mastermind Joan Belmar. Pronounced “Joe-on”, Belmar might be unfamiliar to some NKG visitors as he does not yet have a page on our official website, but his work is certainly not to be overlooked! He started out with paintings, but in recent years have moved towards the world of abstract collages. Though one might observe that there are echoes of OP Art and minimalist qualities in his general body of work, Belmar’s mixed media collages are certainly one-of-a-kind. They are a reflection of the inner workings of his spirit, and does not immitate the work of anyone else: he is his own, unique person.

Pristine strips of solid-colored mylar are delicately placed under the glass of a plywood frame, constructed into circles of all shape and sizes; some slightly more representational than others. There are usually no more than 4 colors/hues represented simultaneously. Some of these compositions can easily be compared to a 3-dimensional approach to the biological system of the human body, found in the science textbooks of today. Due to his use of modern materials, such as plastic, acetate, mylar and glass, an optical illusion is easily created. Viewing these works allows one’s sense of curiosity to leap out, to question the purpose of his art and to be able to reach in and physically feel the materials in order to fully grasp the concept of each collage. Undeniably, there is also a deep sense of nostalgia connected to Belmar’s collages that purge the viewers to take a deeper look at their own respective lives in light of his art. The somewhat uncomfortable, tingly sensation never dies, and an air of mystery prevails.

Strongly influenced by Anish Kapoor’s scuplture at the Hirshhorn, which depicts a bisected egg painted blue, Belmar’s work exists in order for us to test our eyes and abilities to perceive the things that take place around us. His constant exploration with circles (specifically with the mandala principle) helps us realize the importance to constantly access deeper into the levels consciousness, that life is not perfect and that we as humans are all in this together. This is why Belmar creates worlds in his art where some things are clear, others translucent and the latter opaque: it makes the journey of life more interesting to discover.

Prior to moving to the United States in 1999, Belmar lived and experienced “multiple lives” in both Spain and his native Chile. His response to the events of his life are blatantly reflected in his artwork, which he describes with adjectives such as “alienation” and “disconnectedness”. Through the daring use of his concentric collages, Belmar excels in his goal to not only examine critical social structures, but also to [psychologically] analyze those who struggle within them; including, himself. It is like reading the artists’ autobiography in his artwork, making himself completely vulnerable to the masses and allowing us to respond in light of our own life experiences. Isn’t this is what the circle of life is about, after all?

Rivaling the likes of Mark Rothko…

Here is an Artist Feature I wrote the other day about one of Nevin Kelly Gallery’s most prominent local artists: Sondra Arkin. Her work serves as beautiful, abstract meditation pieces, and she is molto passionate about what she does in life. Take that… Mark Rothko!

Pictured Above: Orange Tide, triptych, 2006, encaustic on dibond, each panel 32 x 32 in.

For over 25 years, local DC artist Sondra Arkin has transformed whatever space was available to her at that given point in time (spare bedroom, dining room or basement) into a haven for creative expression. Although art-making was always in her blood throughout the course of her life, it wasn’t until 2001 that Sondra took a risk and quit her day job in marketing to pursue art full-time. This huge leap of faith resulted in a myriad of awards, features in newspapers such as The Washington Post, participation in both group/solo shows all over the mid-Atlantic region and most recently, working as a project curator on behalf of the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities on the new City Hall Art Collection @t the John A. Wilson Building downtown. Sondra’s colorful, abstract, mixed media canvases, which rival those of Mark Rothko, and imaginative box-construction works have been widely received by local and national audiences alike. She is also a frequent exhibitor at our gallery and will be featured in the Third Annual Attainable Art Show, opening November 24th.

What strikes me the most about Sondra Arkin’s work is her ability to create art that is both purposeful and powerful. No matter the size, material used or color combinations (only warm or cool colors, a combination of the two, a more monochromatic palate), Sondra’s work never ceases to create a lasting impression for all who come into contact with it. It is not abstract for the sake of being non-representational, but abstract to evoke every little emotion that is hiding behind our imperfect, human fa├žade. There is a distinct type of [positive] energy in her work that forces the viewer to pause, observe and think beyond what is physically represented on the canvas. Furthermore, Sondra’s free style of painting caters to just about anyone: the hip, young art school student to children learning their colors for the first time, spiritual soul-seekers and even to those in the professional world who value high aesthetics.

In recent years, Sondra Arkin’s unique encaustic (otherwise known as “hot wax painting”, which uses heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added — dates back to 100-300 AD) technique has led the artist to break free from the picture plane approach and make paintings that take on a more sculptural feel. Now, her compositions are not only conceptual and vibrant, but also boast a soft, playfulness of colors that echoes a dichotomy of the combination of diverse materials. She also extends her experimentation of focusing simply on individual work with the inclusion of diptypchs, triptypchs and polytptychs, thereby proding the viewers to look at these pieces as a whole and enhance the conversations further.

Those who attended the Color: Field Tests show back in April/May of this year may remember Sondra’s involvement to help promote the citywide Color Field Remix — a movement from the 1960s that emerged after Abstract Expressionism and is widely characterized by abstract canvases painted with large areas of solid colors. Her entire oeuvre, be it a mixed media collage/box of found objects or a spiritual landscape of vibrant layers of warm colors, has the power to communicate a positive message to the masses: that life, as we know it, is comprised of layers, both good and bad. We as humans will experience both highs and lows in this journey called life, but these feelings are necessary as we stretch, evolve and grow.

Ultimately, Sondra hopes that what surfaces out of these layers of influence is something of value and beauty. By encouraging her viewers to take an introspective approach while confronted with her artwork, Sondra desires that a tangible layer will then be added to our respective lives, which will hopefully enrich it all the more.


On Thursday, 1 November 2007, I sold my FIRST painting: Michal Zaborowski’s After the Race [oil on canvas, 59”x32”, 2007] from the H20 Show at the Nevin Kelly Gallery, 1517 U Street, Washington, DC. Congratulations to the lucky buyers! But don’t worry, there are still 11 Zaborowski paintings left to be sold from now until the end of the show.

Spread the word…

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