Jane Lewis’s Il Seragglio depicts a boat gently floating on the waters of one of the many canals in Venice. It seems that the boat is a part of a grand procession, with itself decorated as a dragon–like rooster–headed gondola. The vessel carries two men, a monkey with a small mask in hand and a Dalmatian. A girl with a nice hat watches with a somewhat languid curiosity from her window–seat of an ancient building in the backdrop. The faces of both the men on the gondola are covered with masks. No one is sure what emotion they are trying to hide behind their pretences. Jane Lewis’s portrayal of her own time is thick with plots and sub–plots. And as viewers try to peel one layer to dig deeper into the story another layer appears beneath posing a further set of riddles to be solved. As always with any great work of art the audience too becomes a part of the enigma and engages into a mental game with its creator.
Jane Lewis participated in a ground–breaking exhibition at the ICA in London, 1980, titled ‘Women’s Images of Men’. Sometime before this in 1977 she won the Slade Prize on graduation from the Slade School of Art UCL. ‘Women’s Images of Men’ and its sequel the ‘Pandora’s Box’ (1984 – 1985) set the tone of this innovative artist’s journey in many ways. Over the years her work has been showcased in solo and group exhibitions across the country and beyond. Portal Gallery, London housed her work from 1993 – 2012, Westcliffe Gallery, Norfolk from 1999 – 2013. The Red Dot Gallery, Holt, Norfolk exhibits her many contemporary pieces including The Puppet Master & His Automation Dog, Marionettes and Il Serraglio. Her paintings are in proud possession of many art aficionados, galleries and organisations such as University College London, Royal Museum & Art Gallery, Canterbury, Sheffield University Fine Art Society and Standard Chartered Bank. Jane also happens to be a skilled printmaker. Her name is included in the ‘Dictionary of International Biography’ published by Cambridge–Melrose Press (32nd edition onwards), ‘The Cambridge Blue Book’ since 2005, and ‘World Who’s Who of Women’ since 2009.
Back in 1957, a fourteen year old girl was seen deeply contemplating the work of a 20th century master, Pablo Picasso, in a museum named after him in Paris, France. It was there, for the first time in her life she learned the magnitude of the revolutionary artist’s work – realism tinged with symbolism, cubism, classicism, surrealism and so on. The visual extravaganza impressed her mind immensely and stayed there. The artist in Marcella Hayes Muhammad was stirred to its very core.
With her father being an air – force officer Marcella found herself stationed in many places including Japan, France, Germany and various parts of United States. The experience gathered and all that she has seen through this extensive excursion became a part of her own self. The encouragements of her mother Ruth Hayes, herself an art enthusiast and student of Art Institute of Chicago, and the inspiring stories of her father Harold Hayes that filled her ears as a child made her acutely aware of her own identity from an early age. She was inspired by cubism but had it redefined by dipping the brush in her own cultural heritage and her soulful energy which is self – evident in Plastic Space, a visual journal she is maintaining since 1964. In 1995 after seeing through a successful career in elementary education Marcella set up Maruva Studio in Georgia. Five years later her sister, Dianne Hayes Quarles, joined her and together they established Maruva DQ, Inc.
Marcella’s work is in the permanent collection of National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture Gallery, University of Montgomery, Alabama; The Academy of Arts, Inc. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama; APEX Museum, Atlanta, Georgia to name a few. But perhaps her greatest achievement to this date has come early in her life when she learnt, ‘inspiration exists, but it has to find you working’. It is owing to this lesson that we find her today, relentlessly busy perfecting her craft even after all the successes she managed to achieve to this date.
Gregory Packard was born on 3rd May, 1970 in Boise, Idaho. He studied English literature from Boise State University, Boise, Idaho and graduated in 1996. However, it is the language of nature that attracted him most since his early childhood. A relocation to city early in his life only added further impetus to his yearning to learn and depict the poetry of nature on canvas. Yet, it is not till in his twenties that Gregory truly found the opportunity of exploring the wealth of the art world. A chance visit to Paris brought him face to face with some of the finest works of art and for the first time in his life he experienced the shifting focus of light and playfulness of small brushstrokes on an impressionist canvas. Despite, all these it took time and effort for him to tread the spiral way of life and he finally managed the transition of being a fulltime artist in early part of last decade.
The Fall Exhibition, to be commenced on 28th September, in California Museum of Fine Art is featuring Gregory’s work. This is the latest in a series of shows that have been organised to exhibit his work which also earned him rich accolades nationwide. The following piece of information would show how far the artist has travelled in last ten years or so – his name was mentioned in the ‘Artists to Watch’ list of the reputed Southwest Art Magazine in December, 2002; in May, 2013 the same magazine dedicated both the editorial and cover on him. It is not surprising that Gregory’s greatest learning and source of inspiration comes from nature, ‘there is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.’
Gohar Dashti is a visual storyteller from Iran. Her photography portrays the contemporary Iranian socio–cultural vista, how it affected a generation of Iranian population and moulded their livelihood. A war ravaged society, torn by conflicts and even natural calamities such as the apocalypse featured in Volcano provide a grim background for her photographic essays. But life marches on nonetheless. And, as shown in ‘Today’s Life and War’, perseverance and determination succeed at the end. It is a story of a young talent whose accomplishments and the ability of defying odds ignite the hope of many others of her generation inspiring them ‘to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’.
Gohar Dashti was born in 1980, Ahvaz, Tehran. She currently lives and works in Tehran, Iran. Gohar completed MA in Photography from Art University of Tehran in 2005. For her work she received fellowship from DAAD, Berlin (2009 – 2011). Her work has been exhibited worldwide including in White Project Gallery, Paris, France, 2012; Grimmuseum, Berlin, Germany, 2012; Centre d’art Passerelle, Brest, France, 2010; Hillyer Art Space, Washington DC, 2008 and closer to home at Silk Road Gallery, Tehran, 2011 to name a few. Currently, Gohar’s visual narratives are on display at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, US (27th August – 12th January, 2014).
Vincent Giarrano was born in 17th November, 1960, Buffalo, New York. Early in his life painting caught his fancy, a passion that he continues nurturing to this day. He completed Master of Fine Arts from Syracuse University in 1985. His works are regularly exhibited in a number galleries including Susan Powell Fine Art, Madison, CT, NYC Viewpoints, 2009, Grenning Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY, Spring Break, 2009 and Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, Figurative Exhibition, 2008 to name a few. It would not be an exaggeration saying, Vincent’s fingers are firmly placed feeling the pulse of the city.