The March exhibit at the Alliance for the Arts brings together works from two artists, Arizona-based sculptor Lee Brotherton and painter Melissa Barry who works from studios in Fort Myers and upstate New York. The opening reception is Friday, March 4 at 5PM. The artists will lead a Gallery Walk & Talk on Saturday, March 5 at 10AM.
Lee Brotherton was born in the Midwest, as the only child of a very mobile family. Art soon became her constant companion. Lee’s early interest in art and the encouragement of her high school art teacher led her to study Fine Arts in college. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (ceramics) was followed by a degree in Art Education.
Lee’s fine arts career included serving as an elementary art teacher, art museum work, art gallery manager and sales consultant. During this time, she constantly dreamt of being a full-time artist. In her free time she continued to work in the arts, especially with clay.
The southwest had called to Lee and became her home. In 1995, she met Bill Freeman, a painter and sculptor living in Scottsdale, AZ and Jackson Hole, WY. Bill shared with Lee his interest and knowledge of the pottery of the ancient and turn-of-century Native American Indians. She soon caught the “pottery fever.” Lee learned how to restore ancient pottery and to make replicas or “re-creations” of this beautiful pottery.
Within a few years of working and selling her pottery re-creations, Lee began experimenting with embedding fossils into her clay medium. Inspired by the fossils and other natural artifacts, Lee created her own designs to compliment the found treasure. One simple ammonite wall sculpture then led to the creation of a grouping of pieces that related to one another. Vessels, bowls and other shapes are often shaped by finding a special piece of driftwood, shell or plant life.
Her sculptures may be seen in galleries and in her studio in Cave Creek, AZ. Collectors of her work include private individuals, companies and museums throughout the world.
“Each painting in this series combines aesthetic influences and images from two countries having personal meaning: Asia and the United States. I am interested in how multiple landscapes, with shifting scale and color, can simultaneously confuse the eye while soothing the soul. Using a SLR digital camera to photograph landscapes, I alter the computer image, manipulating color and scale. Projected images are painted onto a rectilinear landscape canvas and painted in a photo-realistic style, referencing order and tradition.
Grounded by process but guided by intuition, I juxtapose fragmented images and distort scale suggesting a chaotic world in constant flux. Abstracted passages symbolize fog, time of day, or mood. Seeking to meet my personal criteria for a successful painting, I ask “does the work evoke solitude, serenity, and a reverence for the wilderness in its primal state? Do the fragmented images and distorted scale conjure questions of reality?” If successful, the painting gives a feeling of walking through a landscape, stopping to observe at different locations which are seen at different times under differing weather conditions, or through a scrim of memory. It seeks to suggest a unique world of its own, a fragmented “reality”, sense, but ultimately unknowable.
Living in Japan for several years in my youth, Asian art and philosophy were significant influences which continue to inform my work today. I am a fulltime working artist and have maintained a home and studio in Florida since 1977 and since 1994 a summer studio in upstate New York. I served as adjunct art professor at Florida’s Edison State College from 1979-1986 and was a resident artist at Vermont Studio Center, 1989-91, studying with former asst. director James Gahagan, Hans Hofmann School. While I continue to explore the field of art through research and travel, I am most interested in developing ideas and concepts in my studio through intense personal investigation and experimentation.”
Melissa Barry and Lee Brotherton’s joint exhibit will open with a public reception on Friday, March 4 at 5PM at the Alliance. The artists will lead a Gallery Walk & Talk on Saturday, March 5 at 10AM. The exhibit remains on display through March 31.
Illustrations by Fort Myers artist Jason McDonald will be featured in the Member Gallery. McDonald deliberately manipulates the dichotomy between simple drawings with complex ideas. His artwork creates a visual layering that, upon closer inspection, appears interwoven like a rich and fine tapestry. Works by BJR, Brown, Hernandez, & Longoria will be featured in the Foulds Theatre Lobby.