Friday, November 14, 2014

Todd Beisel at Allegory Gallery...

One of the things about Allegory Gallery that gives me the most pride is that we are able to give emerging artists an opportunity to show their work and encourage them in their creative careers.

I remember how difficult it was when I first journeyed forth on this path.  One of the biggest obstacles was a sense of validation.  Is this art?  Was it good?  I asked myself these questions.  The turning point came when I started showing my work and a dialogue began.  That was the transition from just doodling for myself and being an artist: Communicating.  So there's a certain special sense of satisfaction when we start the conversation for artists and their work.  It's the feeling of finding a precious gem on a walk in the woods.

Our current featured artist is named Todd Beisel.  Todd is a local from Johnstown and has training from the San Francisco Art Institute.  He is just starting out and this is his first solo exhibition!  The name of his show is, "The Whispering Woods".

I've been fortunate enough to be able to spend time with his collection of watercolors.  I've studied the sprouting lines and washes of color.  I've examined the light that shines from within his work and makes the pieces glow.  If you boiled down the show to its most basic description it'd be: Tree People.  But there's more...

When you look at the paintings, it's easy to see them as whimsical and fantastical.  They are often times bright, colorful and deal with a magical subject matter, but if you look closer there's a great depth here.  Todd uses storybook characters from mythology and fairytales to evoke the rawest of human experience.  He plays with symbolism like the Tree of Life and references pop culture creatures like J.R.R. Tolkein's Ents and Entwives or L. Frank Baum's the Forest of Fighting Trees (aka the talking apple trees) in the Wizard of Oz.  The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Bible is alluded to and so are the hamadryads and dryads, tree spirits from Greek mythology.  Working with these familiar elements, he digs deeper.  Consumed by fungi, his character is the picture of stoicism in "Confinement".  A face emerges from the shadows and twisted lines, almost obscured and hidden in "Solitude".  Draped with garlands of flowers with upward composition, resting on the crown of branches backlit by a warm, central sun, the "Empress" embodies strength and regal power.  In "Withered", there's a portrait of a kindly willow tree worn by time; the look in the eyes wise and grandmotherly.  The fantastical elements of nature enhance the feeling and personalities of his portraits.

Looking at his pieces, Pre-Raphaelite images come to mind.  More contemporary artists would be Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, who also creates mythic art and works in watercolors.  Both artists have a knack for capturing light in their paintings and weaving fluid lines in curling compositions that unfold as you study closer.

I hope that if you're in the area, you'll stop in to see the exhibit.  If you aren't local, CLICK HERE and you can see the full exhibit online.  And if you enjoy the work, I encourage you to adopt a piece for your own collection.  I remember what it was like to be a young artist, just starting out.  Each sale in those early years was a confirmation that the artists' path was the right path.  Each sale was a sign to keep going and I doubt that without that early encouragement and support, I would be where I am today.  So, if you like a piece, think about devoting a portion of your home to live with one of Todd's creations.

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