Chateau & Parc Featured in Naples Daily News
It’s a knockout.
“Florida Contemporary,” the Baker Museum’s fifth survey of artists working in this state, stuns in its originality, freshness of design and attractive subtleties.
In the east and west galleries of Artis—Naples’ Hayes Hall, the show offers a rare tonal coherence in an exciting look at 20 talents who present a high level of accomplishment. Much of that talent is from Southwest Florida.
Although these creators live throughout Florida, their often foreign origins and artistic background are diverse and intense, as revealed in the show’s wall descriptions.
Dominated the west gallery are artist Chad Jensen, in collaboration with Thomas Riley Studio, custom designers of Naples, and Orley Shabahang, a rug manufacturer with offices in New York and elsewhere, who recreated “Chateau & Parc.” The carpet restyle a late 17th-century aerial map of “The Town and Chateau of Versailles” — parks, canals, streets and clustering structures — into a magnificent covering of white and brown/black Persian-style wool pile.
It was hand-knotted in the firm’s workrooms in Amritsar, India. The carpet measures a staggering 16 feet long by 14 feet wide —the size of a boat garage door –-and descends the gallery wall to a platform at its foot, Parisian sculptor Pierre Le Pautre (1659-1744) originally drew the map for the glory of King Louis IV. Jensen believes the map is based on a survey. Ballooning did not begin in France until 1783. The design precedes the present palace.
The museum’s curator of special collections, Gisela Carbonell, said she appreciated how Jensen had helped to breathe new splendor into a period art style. The new version of the work, made up of repeating square plots and gardens, is meant to convey an unspecified relevance to the present while giving renewed luster to the past. Oddly enough, a reproductive print can be bought on the Internet.
It would be difficult for any artwork to hold its place near this rug, but Naples artist Muffy Clark Gill’s darkly framed low-keyed abstract batik on silk suggests the movement of a pool or swamp in harmony with its nearby neighbor. Her somber colors here depart from her often vivid Floridian palette.
Also catching the eye nearby is Venezuelan-born Griselle Gaudnik’s on-site construction of stitched, wrapped and pinned elements amid diaphanous, featherlike materials attached to the wall in great profusion. It even includes her own hair and is as though a beachscape or similar environment had been deposited on a white wall with extreme deftness. The work exudes spontaneous femininity, yet gives delightful substance to its basic ephemeral nature.
Also extremely accomplished are three cut-paper collages by Deming King Harriman that bring hundreds of differing design elements into figural constructions of fantastic female portraits. Across the gallery, Bianca Pratorius’ construction of looped purple fabric recalls similar sculptures of the last quarter of the 20th century.
Dominating the east gallery is Juan Travieso’s 42 separately framed portraits of endangered birds, often accompanied by similarly imperiled plant life. The birds can look as though coming from a book of illustrations, which they did, or also semiabstract in design.
The effect of the many foot-square and white-framed paintings is powerful. They also handsomely accentuate this Cuban-born artist’s concerned for endangered species.
Modernists will enjoy Bernadette Despujols’ “Flood—House” in which she creates with bold pink and white brush strokes an abstract view of presumably a moose and other odd elements caught in a rush of overpowering water.
Making his third appearance in the exhibition, another Naples artist, John Carroll Long, in a large acrylic painting brings back a complex study of an upside down ice cream truck and its driver milkman—seen upside down and normally in an allover grid of multicolored vertical bars. Neapolitans are accustomed to his highly original assemblages but this time he appears to have exerted an enormous amount of time and dexterity in this painting.
Andy Owen, associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, offers a print and glass engraving illuminated with light emitting diodes to successfully convey his interest in the effect of moving water.
On another wall, Valeria Yamamoto makes an ethereal cloudlike construction from three-dimensional hand carved Italian marble in a cloudlike formation. It also reminded me of Paul Delvaux’s painting of white kite-like forms in the Baker museum’s current Belgian Surrealism exhibition.
Visitors will surely find this “Florida Contemporary” of outstanding merit, with a salute to Carbonell for an especially well formulated installation.