Experiencing the differences between my native Philadelphia, east-coast wintry world vs. the lovely and sunny Scottsdale, Arizona was the most rejuvenating wintertime art-viewing I’ve only imagined doing before. Scottsdale hosts a weekly Thursday evening ArtWalk similar to Philadelphia’s monthly First Friday. Galleries stay open late and many local restaurants, shops and nightlife participate in a vibrant, fun experience where gallery strolling introduces art to both new and “die-hard” aficionados.
Strolling along Main Street and North Marshall Way, this area of the downtown is known locally as Old Town Scottsdale. Lisa Sette Gallery was exhibiting an extensive show of work by Arizona painter, Rachel Bess. Bess’ exhibition Light, Color, Darkness offers a breathtaking view of an artist’s genre of work that is as introspective as much as the scale of each piece is so exceptionally personal. Bess chooses to paint primarily in oil on panel – but at a scale that could be held in one’s hands or viewed almost like a talisman: many of her panels measure only 8 x 10 inches (20.5 x 26 cm) or smaller. Prisms depicts a young female clad in a beautiful off-white or sandy-white dress, in a three-quarter profile view, holding a reflective object (is it yellow glass?) while creating an aura of “prisms” surrounding her. Shooting outward and behind the figure – the model seems confidently aware that these prisms are meandering and rolling outward – but she appears non-fussed by all of the prism energy surrounding her. Bess seems to pay homage to the masters of traditional oil painting, such as Jan Vermeer; however, there is an element that provokes one to describe this stunning work as Vermeer or Raphael meets “the new world of Goth” while jettisoning the history of the medieval painting masters into present times.
Bess’ Heart of Glass painting carries a similar theme of glass or a 3-dimensional object being so delicately and gracefully held by the subject, to represent a more human element that ties the natural world with the outside world of our environment. The harmonious rendering of the hands in all of Bess’ works are particularly fascinating, as she hearkens back to similar hands of the female protagonist in European medieval painter Jan van Eyck’s “The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini” (c. 1434). In her artist statement, Bess shares that her work “focuses on the continuum of relationships between humans and the rest of nature – from a harmonic and mutually beneficial relationship to an adversarial one where we try to shape, dominate and control our natural surroundings. The paintings aren’t meant to be literal depictions of this balance (or imbalance) but rather to symbolize and evoke the mood of that amity, discord, control and beauty.”
Lisa Sette Gallery is located at 4142 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Note that just this week, however, Lisa Sette announced the gallery will be moving its operations into the midtown Phoenix area. Having recently posted to artdoesmatter about the fabulous art and mountain vistas of Phoenix, one can certainly understand the attraction. The gallery is hosting an opening tonight during the Scottsdale ArtWalk, from 7-9PM, Mountain Time Zone, U.S.A.; if you’re fortunate to be local to the Scottsdale area, I encourage you to drop by and see the work currently on display.
The topics discussed and locations mentioned in this blog post are solely my own choice of adventures, and I receive no compensation for any endorsements.