Art : Art with soul
Soul Doctors' Equinox Art Show
This past Saturday the Soul Doctors' Equinox Art Show hung on the walls of the Vineyard Haven Baptist Church Parish House. Good art, on a good day, shows us a new perspective. It might spark an idea, give us a little chill, or repulse us. It may help us retrieve memories we've tucked away long ago. It might bring up an aroma or a sound that carries us to a vision of what we think we know, have done, or felt. It might make us smile or laugh for no reason, or give us a glimpse of what we might think is entirely new to our realm of experience. Good art can be hard to come by.
Last Saturday, the first day of spring, the equinox, was a beautiful day. After a winter full of rain, snow, and ice the very idea of running into an art show while the sun was still up was counter-intuitive. Would the art be worth seeing? Was it religious art? The art, strictly speaking, was not religious art, but it was good art.
The Soul Doctors is a parent support group. The Equinox Art Show was a collection of art by the children of those parents, who are young Martha's Vineyard residents who see and learn differently. Robin Tuck, Kathi Hackett, and Jennifer Langhammer put the show together from submissions made by individuals whose work was created in school, at home, and in their workshops on the Island. Work from nine artists was shown and without exception it was good art.
In a note, Ms. Langhammer, the curator, wrote that their mission was to "strengthen the bonds of our own community and to reach out to the community at large." They succeeded.
A description of some of the artists and their work follows.
"Fifteen in February," Elke Klein's self-portraits, are photographs reminiscent of late 19th century stylized scenes of classical stories. "I like to wear different outfits from all over the world and from history," Elke says. "I feel action."
In one photo she is dressed as Shannon from Scotland searching for the Loch Ness monster; in another Emily Howard Carter, an early Egyptologist; Velma from "Scooby Doo" solving a mystery; Chantal from Paris; and a Rani from India (an Indian princess or queen.) The photos have a haunting beauty that gives them a depth and feeling beyond their simple stories.
Fifteen-year-old Austin Simonin taught himself to read and write before the age of four and he loves movies, according to his parents. Austin's drawings and paintings are of intricate shapes that morph into other shapes. His computer art is just plain incredible. There are multiple images of Warhol-like commercial products (in Austin's case never identical) and dozens of crafty movie posters advertising fictitious movies with hilarious names and subtitles. His work is marvelous in its creativity, breath, and volume.
Multi-talented twelve-year-old Kirsten Schuele-Van Aken has been drawing since she was young and used to exchange drawings with her father while riding on the subways of New York. She has come close to mastering the art of drawing horses. Her colored pencil lines trace with great precision the figures and movements of horses and zebras. She also transfers patterns, mixing dissimilar images from nature to form playful and thoughtful pictures.
Ms. Langhammer compares Kirsten's work to that of Rene Magritte, the Belgium surrealist. She also displayed sheet music of a piece that she had written to accompany Christopher Paolini's poem "Eleven Song."
Nineteen-year-old Celeste Ewing's medium is collage. Her "Study in Yellow and Blue" is a vertical piece of bold colors and patterns. Their juxtaposition pushes the viewer's eyes around and around in a playful dance of color and shapes.
The painting by 16-year-old Romullo Goncales, "Three," like much early 20th-century art, can be passed by with little more than a quick glance. I had to do a double take and back up. There is a lot going on in his Miro-like drawing of three creatures in a blank landscape. Are they moving in a vacuum? What is their relationship to each other? Are they signaling to each other? Are they signaling to us?
Marc Baird's oil painting "Fruit in Front of a Mountain" is staggering. It is a still life, almost a primitive that contrasts the color and roundness of the fruit with the massive dark flatness of the distant mountain.
Barra Peak created a miniature world of intricate model sets. The 14-year-old wrote, "I started making sets at the Boys and Girls Club...I like making tiny versions of things like food and furniture. Mostly I make shops when I make sets, but I've also made houses, a museum, and a ballroom." Her model of a chess shop, where one goes to play with and buy chess sets, was both inventive and really cool. It could have come right out of "Alice and Wonderland."
Fourth-grader Hudson Simmons's "Landscape - pastels" has a foreground of beach grass swaying in the breeze. "I was thinking this was a true masterpiece," he said about the work. "It helps to calm me down."
There were also several group projects, such as painted flower pots holding live geraniums, and plaster gold medals on ribbons made when the artists learned that they would be going to the Special Olympics.
With any kind of luck this show will be repeated next year.
For information about the Soul Doctors, please call Robin Tuck at 508-693-5186.