There is a fascinating interaction between the real and the surreal, the natural world and the otherworldly, in a four-person show at the Istvan Gallery. On view are landscape photos by Norman artist Marvin Lee, ceramics and other works by Edmond artist Alesa Clymer, and mixed media works by Oklahoma City artists Amanda Bradway and William Struby.
Magnificent mountains provide magnificent backdrops in two superb color photographs by Lee. Golden, sunlit trees on a hill in the foreground contrast with the cloud-shrouded and snow covered barrier of “Mt. Cook.”
Other memorable photos include a small, toned black-and-white study of “Doubtful Sound,” and an intriguing color picture of a long log and other weathered objects lying on the shoreline of “Ship Creek.”
Much more painterly and painting-like are Lee's altered color photos, printed on canvas, of a blue and green “Rain Tree” with red leaves, and of the hilltop “Church of the Good Shepherd” under a starry sky.
Struby brings a well-honed surreal edge and sense of the absurd to his technically well executed mixed media collage creations. In one work, a little chick looks admiringly up at a very large rooster that is not only “Alright,” but “just about the coolest thing you ever saw,” standing on one leg in front of the rising sun.
Somewhat surreal, too, is Clymer's ceramic, acrylic and encaustic “Growth Cylinder,” a log-like column with holes in it through which pointed, worm-like creatures seem to be emerging.
Even more charmingly creepy and provocative is Clymer's “The Early Wurm Gets the Bird,” a graphite and acrylic depiction on panel of a worm-like creature emerging from the ground to menace flying white water birds.
For her part, Bradway combines ornate, deftly executed graphite drawings and sculptural elements with what appear to be small bird and animal skulls in her mixed media wooden wall hangings.
A white animal skull seems to be poised over the top of a triangular mountain, with gesturing hand-antlers, like a bizarre wall trophy, in Bradway's “The End is the Beginning Again,” to name a case in point.
The exhibit is highly recommended during its run.
— John Brandenburg
Istvan Gallery Show