The current exhibition at Raw Space presents the work of an international group of artists, all women. Titled “The Woman in the Mirror,” the show may – or may not – have a woman-oriented theme. Organized by independent curator Silvia Medina, all but one of the show’s artists is currently represented by Medina through her business, Art Concept Alternative.
The odd one out is beachside Vero resident Pamela Pike Gordinier, who was represented by Medina a few years ago in Medina’s innovative, if short-lived, Intrepid Art Gallery. The others include three now living in Miami: Tutua Boshell, originally from Colombia; Claudia Cebrian, who is from Argentina; Evelyn Walg of Venezuela; and Bibiana Martinez, a Colombian. There is also the New York artist Seanna Noonan; Hilda Vidal of Cuba and the Spanish-born Lucia Zalbidea, now living in Cuba.
The previous group shows that Medina curated for Raw Space had their share of large-sized works, but for Woman in the Mirror, she insisted on a scale suited more to the intimately personal than the publicly heroic.
“I told the artists, ‘No big paintings,’” she says. “I wanted everyone to be represented with three or four smaller paintings, rather than one or two huge ones.”
If the current show’s title suggests that the works on view focus on subjects that their artists relate to as women, this show mostly does not do that. Instead, it presents a selection of works from eight different people that show what each is up to as an artist – regardless of gender. Two of the artists – Gordinier and Zalbidea – did address the theme of woman as reflected in a woman artist’s eyes, with successful results. Gordinier divides her time between Vero Beach, where she presents art workshops at Indian River Shores Community Center, and her Lord’s Hill Studio in Stonington, Conn.
She describes herself as an installation and conceptual artist with an interest in social activism. “My work is centered on questions,” she says. Gordinier has two works on display that were not hung together, as was every other artist’s body of work, but on adjoining walls, separated by someone else’s paintings. Although confusing as to who did what, perhaps that is just as well because Gordinier’s offerings stylistically have nothing in common with each other. The most compelling (and easily identified) of the two is a 2-foot-square painting that hangs just inside the gallery’s front door.
Written in script, the words “Cries,” “Lies” and “Testify” encircle three concentric zones in a target-like composition. Hanging from a twisted net of pantyhose in the center of the painting is a 3-D, mosaic-mirrored Valentine heart.
That trio of words (each repeated endlessly in its closed ring) is like an echoing chant of either indictment or appeal. The heart can readily be interpreted variously as a symbol of brokenness, reflection or restoration, as the viewer’s fancy dictates.
Gordinier says she made the artwork as a response to rape. She adds that while she has no subjective experience of rape, her artwork addresses the crime as a pervasive societal evil. “It talks about the kind of thing that affects all women in all cultures,” she says.
On a more personal note, Lucia Zalbidea calls her own three art works “a part of my life.” Born in Valencia, Spain, in 1969, the artist met her Cuban husband, photographer Carlos Torres Cairo, in Italy in 1994. The two lived in Spain and then England before moving with their two kids to Havana in 2015. The foundation of her works for this show are stretched rectangles of fabric on which are pinned various objects from Zalbidea’s life.
These include a white summer blouse from her youth, a paper fragment from a Havana street map, and a long, sharp thorn from a tree near her house. They are augmented by the artist’s small drawings, stitched words and collage elements that compositionally tie everything together.
The most effective of these works is also the simplest. Two white handkerchiefs, placed one above the other against their white cloth backdrop, refer to the artist’s connection to the distaff side of her family. The top one, embroidered with a white-on-white monogram, is a memento from her mother. The one below it – representing Zalbidea – has the word “Me” stitched on it in black cursive. Several spools of monofilament hang between the muslin squares, bridging the gap with transparent threads.
“These are the visible but not visible lines coming from my mom and others who are important to me,” Zalbidea says. Other stand-outs in the show include a quartet of 20-inch-square abstract paintings by Tutua Boshell.
That artist was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1950. Her early life included independent study with a number of bogotano painting maestros, including David Manzur and Santiago Cárdenas. After settling in Miami in 1998, Boshell earned her M.F.A. at the University of Miami. There she studied under noted New York color field painter Darby Bannard.
Although her lavishly textured paintings are abstract, she sees in them the influence of land and sea. “I am a gardener and I am a swimmer,” Boshell says. “I don’t try to do a landscape, but they turn out to be landscapes.” Indeed, for the viewer, the vantage point of Boshell’s paintings appears to be a submerged one, with glimpses of sky and distant terra firma through roiling waves.
These pictures were built rather than painted with a combination of acrylic color, acrylic gel medium and granulated pumice that Boshell says she mixes by the gallon prior to beginning work. She applies the paint using a concrete float, a rectangular metal trowel made for smoothing wet cement. The result is a thickly layered paint surface that, oddly enough, has a soft, atmospheric look. Her nod to landscape is accomplished with cloudy shades of gray, golden ochres, passages of ultramarine blue, and a dewy hint of pink.
Boshell said she learned to use uncommon painting materials and techniques from fellow students at UM and “Darby, of course” – her professor. Claudia Cebrian was born in Buenos Aires and began her photographic career there. After moving to Miami in 2001 she established Clau Photography, specializing in “poetic journalism” – wedding photography with an artistic flair.
She is also a fine art photographer. In Woman in the Mirror she has prints from two series. Four prints from “Underwater” focus on clothed women swimming, diving and somersaulting in the deep end of a featureless pool. Four prints from “Lost in Translation” center on an auburn-haired beauty in a flowered gown who could double for Flora in Botticelli’s “Primavera.” In one picture the sylph confronts herself in a double-exposure; in another her arm clutches a suitcase of floral brocade. Two other shots picture her head, from the front with eyes closed and from the back (that hair!) superimposed against the luxuriant piece of luggage.
According to the artist’s statement on her website, “Lost in Translation” tells of migrant women who have experienced loneliness and solitude in lands far from the music of their native tongue.
Viewers won’t need a translator to appreciate the beauty of Cebrian’s photographic technique and subject matter.
The exhibition runs through April 28. Raw Space at Edgewood is at 1795 Old Dixie Highway. Its posted hours are Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Posted on April 20th, 2017 @ VeroNews.com, By Ellen Fischer