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Artistic “Games” planned for New Year's Day

Painter Michele Mikesell will open a new exhibit titled “The Games We Play” Saturday at JRB Art at the Elms.
BY BRANDY McDONNELL, Published: December 31, 2010

Art lovers are invited to celebrate the dawn of 2011 with fun and games at one Paseo art gallery.

JRB Art at the Elms is continuing its tradition of debuting a new exhibition on New Year's Day with Saturday's opening of “The Games We Play,” featuring oil paintings by Dallas artist Michele Mikesell. The gallery also will open an exhibit of works featured in its 2011 calendar.

Mikesell, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Texas Women's University in Denton and her master's degree at the University of Oklahoma, often meshes human personalities and animal traits in her narrative paintings.

In comparing and contrasting animals with the universal human experience, she explores themes including irony, humor and tragedy.

“I see animals in human nature all the time, as well as ‘human' attributes in animals. This comparison is fascinating to me on so many levels. It's sometimes humorous, sometimes dark, sometimes profound but always interesting to me. I feel the most successful when I hear someone come to a painting of an animal and say, ‘Wow, I know that person,'” Mikesell said in an e-mail.

In “The Games We Play,” Mikesell depicts slyly satirical apes, birds, fish and other creatures engaged in favorite childhood games, from matching playing cards in pairs to solving the crime in the board game “Clue.” In an e-mail interview, Mikesell discussed her goals for the show and the coming year.

Q: Why have you decided to showcase “The Games We Play”? What familiar games will people see represented in your artwork in the show, and what is the meaning behind our games?

A: Doing a show about games is something I've thought about for a while. It parallels so many other themes that I have worked with in the past like the circus, fairy tales, and idioms. It's another universal experience that I think is very rich in tradition and meaning, and I've just barely tapped the potential of material that is there.

Some of the games loosely represented in this show are Duck, Duck, Goose, Clue, matching cards and a crossword puzzle. There's always an irony, though. The ducks are deer, and the goose is not, which gives the question, “What role is the goose is playing?” Clue has always been a pretty sinister game to me, and I'm presenting three characters as playing pieces. In the crossword puzzle, I've made the viewer a bird by presenting a bird's-eye view of three birds working a futile crossword puzzle. And in matching, a cat and a rat have been overturned. I've left it up to the viewer to decide if it's a match or not.

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• When: Saturday through Jan. 28.

• Where: JRB Art at the Elms, 2810 N Walker, Paseo Arts District.

• Events: New Year's Day opening reception from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Another reception will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Jan. 7 during the monthly Paseo Gallery Walk.

• Information: 528-6336 or


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