Fantastical creatures come alive
Five months ago the staff at The Avenue Concept, home to the Avenue Gallery, wondered about the fictional creatures that come alive in the imagination and art of their fellow creatives. They wanted this version of their ongoing series of exhibits to take us beyond the 2D approach of street art that they have represented so well.
Co-organizers, Jenny Young and Chrissy Wolpert, wanted to feature fantastical creatures that come alive, that in a 3D way grab your attention by coming off the wall or that could wrap themselves around you. They knew of some such creatures that had escaped the artists’ minds and now existed in the art studios of local friends, so they gathered a creative collective of seven such examples.
Their mission for Creature Feature, “was to reveal a collection of representational characters found near and far, over and under, large and small, real and totally unreal that live in our minds, hearts and souls; and created by Providence artists.”
The show opened June 21, but the 38 pieces in the collection will continue on display within the Avenue Gallery through August 1st.
Ray Almstrom’s longtime passion for the waterways of Rhode Island and his love of fishing have long affected his art. Over the years his creatures have shown distortion of form that might come from his concern over how man through pollution has impacted the physical world of the river habitat. His work is represented in a dozen character forms, and his fish/lobster creature guarded the paint counter on opening night and kept the DJ company.
Nick Guilbert’s “Mask” transformed him into one of his own creations, the Mask, which he wore briefly, was a fine example of a program he teaches at Avenue Concept, when not busy painting some of the best local murals.
Alicia Uth deals with living, breathing creatures all day long in The Met Center arts program she runs in an adjacent classroom to the gallery. She receives inspiration while watching life transformations. Here her art in mediums of ink, marker and graphite watch you, the creatures’ eyes follow you as you pass by.
Josh Yelle of Pencil Mancer, has long captivated imaginations with intriguing images that go beyond the word creature. For this showing, he took it a step further than just his fine pencil, chalk and paper creations. He sculpted his “Quadoclous Tritopus” and brought it to glowing life. Stages of the work presented in his online social media pages follow its development.
The gallery was invaded by seven of the 3D creatures that have grown in size with Michael Guadagni’s exploration of what can be created from scraps of fabric that receive layers of screen printing and embroidered activity before being sewn together. The largest of these works, “Vile Mockery,” hangs from the ceiling. Michael informed us that when these creatures are not away invading gallery type spaces, that they take over his couch at home. One “Skin of a Dimensional Beast” gives evidence to the hours of preparation involved.
Next time you open a pizza box beware, says Kendra Plumley. Therein lies the “Pizza Reaper” as represented by her sculpture that beckons you from the wall. Other mixed media works are less threatening, but just as fun for their imagination and creative blend of characters.
The pen and ink works of Nori Swennes-Croce present her creature expressions, normally captured in doodles on another level. At least one of them is threatening to swallow the wild world whole. Beyond the world of drawing or writing, talented Nori has been seen hanging out with those ladies from Chifferobe Atelier.
An expansive “exquisite corpse” mural, painted on the exterior walls of the Avenue Concept’s building at 304 Lockwood Street, was made in collaboration by the artists represented in Creature Feature. Not all of the artists had used the medium of spray paint; for some this was a new opportunity. They took on the challenge, each creating a panel representational of their style of art and for some like Alicia Uth, the work came together quickly. Michael simply started with green circles and had fun exploring this medium. Ray captured one of his creations in an art form he is well familiar with as a muralist and painter.
While visiting these creatures that for the next month will live by feeding on those who dare to enter, remember that The Avenue Concept, when it is not presenting creatures that escape from the minds of artists, produces integrated public arts programming that fosters social, community, and artistic development.