At Gallery I-80 (On display daily at any of Gallery I-80's locations throughout eleven states)

reviewed by Felissia Cappelletti (January 2015)

Skyband (mixed media / particles on atmosphere, 2015)


This extraordinary exhibit took me all day to fully appreciate and it was worth every minute. It is a sequential show, blurring the lines between types of media. The closest approximation of description I can give is a 'cinematic mural installation piece'. Like film, Skyband moves and changes before the eyes just as life does. Like a mural, this show fills the entire arena of the gallery completely. There are no frames, no placards, indeed, no walls. Like an installation, Skyband uses many types of media to fill the space and creates a pathway through the art so that the viewer is immersed in the experience of the exhibit.

As I traveled through the gallery, each section of the piece built upon the last, referencing elements of earlier sections while continuing to change. It could also be said that the entire show was one single piece, because although there were unique moods and palettes throughout the exhibit, there was no differentiation between one composition and the next. Only the slow motion of art from journey's beginning to journey's end.

It began subtly enough. Opening hues are gentle and mellow against a smooth, indigo backdrop. Emerging from the vanishing point are brush strokes of blues and pale yellow. Slowly, the colors intensify, adding oranges and maroon. There is a moment of suspense when the colors seem to quiver in anticipation of something… Then an eruption! With measured crescendo, a blood red circle enters the composition, peaking above the horizon line, staining the surrounding colors vibrant. The circle seems to boil with intense red and maroon, the shades vibrating against each other. The circle moves up, away from the vanishing point, dragging a cloak of many colors behind it where it goes. Spectacular painterly elements of smooth blending and the use of luminary pigments display a true mastery of the skill and confidence with the materials.

Skyband (mixed media / particles on atmosphere, 2015)


Next, the furious bloody circle begins to cool. Its cape of colors becomes more elegant, less fearful. As the circle continues to rise, the composition opens into a clear blue stretch, pigmented yellow and gold by flawless studio lighting. Under-pinning the color study is a solid black band, grounding the composition. It creates a heaviness to counterbalance the light airiness of the top portion. This is the path upon which the art-goer follows throughout the show. Mostly straight, bending and curving here and there for added interest, the road, as it's called, maintains a continual pattern of lane bars. These lane bars flashed past as I continued along, yet even in their constant motion, they seemed static. An optical trick very effective in making the experience seem simultaneously in real time, and timeless.

The mid-portion of the show, which lasted most of the day, though lovely, was fairly redundant in coloration. An overall baby blue cast with streaks of white and yellow. Round abstractions texture Skyband soft and fluffy, shades of gray and gray-blue create shadow and depth within them. Their flow lends a sense of whimsy and feminine grace to the composition. The circle, once deep red, has now changed to such a luminescent shade of white-yellow that it becomes difficult to look at closely, the glare is so powerful.

During this section of the exhibit, the viewer is encouraged to notice other aspects of the gallery. My favorite part of the exhibit was the side attractions, little secret passageways to nooks not officially associated with Gallery I-80, but which nevertheless enrich the art-going experience. The gallery is immense, and so there are many offshoots and side roads you can choose to discover. My adventures led me to a ghost town, on a treasure hunt, and on a trip down Memory Lane. These personalized elements of the show add to the interpretive freedom of the exhibit.


Skyband (mixed media / particles on atmosphere, 2015)

Further along, the artist begins to echo some of the same themes seen in the beginning of the show, bringing completion and closure by pulling forth familiar colors and motions, this time in reverse. The circle character, having reached its zenith, returns toward the vanishing point, deepening in color, pulling subtle pinks and oranges out from the blue backdrop. As the circle drops lower, those shades darken and become more brilliant. Expert positioning of stunning orange and profound blue complement each other in kinetic balance, like two passionate dancers. I watch the two of them merge, swirl and combine, oozing offspring shades of royal purple, mossy green, brilliant indigo, passionate red. These colors seem to respond to each other, dancing a part-choreographed, part-improvised movement, clustering and revolving around the central character, once again deep red.

Just as the epic fermata of the final polyphonic tone is the end to a symphonic masterpiece, so too, does Skyband hold this final movement, even beyond the exeunt of the great circle. Swirling colors deepen and flow downward steadily, following the path of the sun just as a king's devoted entourage dance and sing in his wake long after he is gone from sight.

Finally, an epilogue. The colors have seeped away. I am in complete darkness and it gives me pause to think how lucky and grateful I am to not be blind. Slowly, my eyes adjust to the dimness. Figures of myth emerge in stark, scant pointillist effigy far larger than life, overhead. It is a stunning parting gesture. With understated, quiet grace and power, Night is the stoic and stately queen of Skyband kingdom.

The content of the piece as I read it, is the forward motion of time, and as a metaphoric extension, the forward motion of our lives. Above, the predictably changing color composition and motion of the sun figure in a steady direction illustrates the constant passage of time and its unreachable, unstoppable position above and throughout our lives. The road pattern below seems to represent the direction of choice, the momentum of progress. A trail which opens and opens as long as you keep following it. Perhaps it ends somewhere, perhaps not. The road seems to continue on and on far past our final destination. A tribute to the existential fact that the roads we travel were not built for us alone. That the paths laid for us have been paved, potholed, and paved again by countless patrons before us and its many offshoots, exit ramps and pit stops represent the deviations, and adventures we each choose to enrich our journey.

The juxtaposition of these two heady images: steady sky above, winding road below, represent to me the profound journey of any traveler of life. There are things you can choose, things you can change, and things you cannot. Gallery I-80 is a choose-your-own-adventure, offering many directions, leading to a myriad of destinations and supporting a million different interpretations. My journey was exactly what I made of it. For me, Skyband was an ecstasy of prismatic beauty, poetics of meaning, and the joy of striving toward an end. And yet, Skyband whispered to me as I disembarked, 'the end is not the end at all'. For the smooth, ceaseless motion of time which I pondered during my day in the gallery is but one segment of an installation so immense it began construction before the birth of anyone. The first pigments ever crafted from stardust and heat have been painted, stripped, washed, overlaid, textured, varnished, and painted again long before the audience evolved a language for appreciating such things. Knowing that takes words away, for what review can be given of such a piece other than silent gratitude and tearful awe?

I was not able to speak to the artist, only to the art. It said the artist works for herself. But she adores her audience and hopes to inspire all who see her show to become tireless in their forward journey, and to flow effortlessly and gorgeously on the surface of a world framed by her art.


--The End --