By Kathleen Sloan
In this digital age of mass production, human senses are dumbed down to weather the onslaught of stimulus. Or even worse, we succumb to the hypnotic and numbing effects of television or computers. Six hours fizz by, our brains unconsciously compelled to play connect-a-dot or complete-the-matrix, while titillating subject matter flits by.
Perhaps we pick up a magazine, filled with shiny, airbrushed, impossibly ideal types, separating us from the common run, leaving us longing for the unattainable. You are elsewhere.
Our unengaged but minimally operating minds are led like hologram puppets through media massages, while our bodies’ senses grow duller and duller. We become passive. We wait to be spoon-fed un-nourishing titillation, losing initiative and the ability to create.
Making or appreciating art is the antidote. It puts the critical thinker and critical senses back in charge. It also performs the invaluable service of reconnecting the body to the head, the person to culture. You are here.
It takes long sustained effort and self-directed use of the mind and senses. Norman Mailer said something like, art is painful. It’s getting awake and self-aware he may have been referring to. Once there, the hours once spent on titillation will be too painful to endure, and you’ll long for deeper engagement.
Two artists during the Saturday, July 15 Art Hop in Truth or Consequences, held each second Saturday of the month, provided particular enlivenment of the brain and senses and cultural connection.
James Gasowski’s paintings are at Studio Niche, 118 Main St., which he owns and operates. Jeannie Ortiz’s weavings and woven jewelry are showing at Mud Mountain Studio, 324 Broadway, which is owned and operated by artist Olin West.
What makes them notable is their obvious hands-on, minds-on awareness of the art traditions and techniques in their fields. They have made the effort to study and absorb these physical, mental and spiritual processes, creating their own synthesis. What they do is unique and new, but an organic outgrowth of long study to self-possessed mastery.
Interestingly, both have traveled the world, picking their own mentors or methods of study along the way, and are not products of the university system.
Gasowski is an abstract painter with an extraordinary facility for drawing. In an effort to force himself “to learn new techniques and to break down concepts of what a picture should be,” he has put down his facile brush and picked up a trowel or spray can and incorporates stencil and collage techniques.
He says his older works were “pictures, where you go into the space like a window.” His current works are “paintings that force you to consider the surface more. There are a lot of grids – it keeps you on the surface.”
His vigorous and bold compositions, colors and textures will spin you through the ages. Some of his paintings on board are so layered and dense they act like the rock ground of the caves of Lascaux with similarly merged and coded imagery that evokes a ritual meant to capture wild animal spirit. Others quote the primary colors and benday dots of pop art. Most have a lavish, rich gravy surface you’d swear were Renaissance oils magically transported and re-describing man’s lust for life and beauty.
Ortiz’s woven jewelry looks ancient and tribal and organic and alive. Imminently comfortable and body clinging and
twining, they adore and love the wearer. Harsh cut stones and metal are dead by comparison. Their character and personality pull you to them from a great way off. Some look African, Native American or Tibetan influenced.
The incredible variety and skill among both artists’ works is a studio-sized trip to points around the world and different ages – a trip you’ll feel and remember far longer than similar time spent in the digital cloud.