From the landscapes of the farm he grew up on in Pennsylvania, to the fields and woods of York County, to the year he spent in Rome studying Italian painting, New Mexico artist Michael Kessler will be bringing his lush take on farmlands to the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery May 3-June 2.
What inspiration could propel such creations that are on exhibit in over 25 prominent museums throughout the United States?
"Nature provides the basis upon which my work exists," Kessler said. "35 years ago I began by painting landscapes, but through prolonged and careful observation it was the inner-dynamics of the natural world that grasped my attention. The questions of how and why nature looked the way it did began to drive my work. I wanted to peel away the surface so that I could better understand the inner workings of nature. I wanted to do this within the realm of art, however, not science."
Kessler has an interesting process of immersing himself into the nature he creates.
"I began to sensitize myself to the natural processes that were responsible for the appearance of the natural world like sedimentation and erosion. Gradually my painting process took on the characteristics of these natural processes. I invented the process and that process created the images that became my paintings."
If appearances are deceptive, how does one capture the true nature of the universe? Kessler describes it like this: "I want my paintings to reflect both the desire to know and the futility of trying to know. The main thing I want my work to convey however, is a sense of awe and wonder at the vast universe we can never comprehend. That is how I feel about the world we inhabit and those are the feelings I want my work to express."
Kessler creates in a process of layers, building up information, using unique tools and methods.
"The process involves the application of many layers of marks and skins. A sandwich of information is built up to reveal the passage of time and its own creation. Structures both organic and geometric are laid down under and between translucent skins of paint. These skins are applied with a variety of trowel-like tools I've invented or adapted. The pressure used during the application of a skin determines the degree to which the underlying structures and gestures appear or disappear. Much of the initial painting is buried beneath subsequent layers of paint but remains visible to varying degrees."
PARTIAL ECLIPSE, Kessler's second solo exhibition at Joseph Gierek Fine Art, runs May 3-June 2 and is located at 1512 E 15th Street. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
Dinner with Friends
Theatre Pops is known in the Tulsa theater landscape as the group that "does it for the right reasons." That phrase is certainly open to interpretation as they courageously dive into the ensemble piece Dinner with Friends by Donald Marguiles.
"This is a play about relationships," said director Kelli McLoud-Schingen. "It is an authentic representation of relationships between husbands and wives, and long-time friends. It's also about love and loss and how difficult it is to keep relationships together. It explores the idea of what it means to have people in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime."
Directing a show that presents a full and well-rounded picture was the goal in putting up a show that most would call a team effort -- yet each character also stays true to individual needs.
"This is a small ensemble production and it calls for these four actors to create an authentic story that is true to life and leaves the audience holding up a mirror to their own relationships," McLoud-Schingen said. "This is a challenge because there is not a huge cast to hide in. There are no leading characters and side-kicks in this show, so fostering chemistry between the characters is crucial to making this production real."
Local talent Phredi Tate, who is cast as Tom, explains the journey his character takes in a story that is quite deep and revolves around perfection and chaos.
"There are two couples: Gabe and Karen who are best friends with Tom and Beth. My character, Tom, is never at the dinner, but finds out that a lot of things have been said about him that could cause his friendship to dissolve. My marriage to Beth is over, she tells Gabe and Karen without me being there, but it is all I asked of her. This, of course, leads to two sides of a story. I do have a new love interest by the name of Nancy and she is what I've been looking for all my life."
Tate also has a fond affection for the play and the team at Theatre Pops.
"It is an absolute gem of a play! One of my favorite quotes from the play would be 'You see this as a big mess. I see it as the best thing that could have happened to me.'"
Tate describes the working environment at Theatre Pops with an enthusiasm that is a breath of fresh air for the Tulsa theater community.
"Theatre Pops ... just POPS! They are the real deal and an absolute pleasure to work with. In the two shows that I've done with them, they are extremely family-like in their works. All of the actors are given attention, groomed and heard. Their LOVE for theatre is astounding! Everyone here LOVES what they are doing. They are very level headed, approachable and an amazing group of people to work with."
Dinner with Friends runs April 26-28 at 8pm and April 29 at 2pm in the Liddy Doenges Theatre at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. For tickets please call 918-569-7111. This play if for mature audiences only.
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