Tracy Lewis at La Luz de Jesus Gallery

As Within So Without by Tracy Lewis

As Within So Without by Tracy Lewis

Watercolor artist Tracy Lewis has new work at La Luz de Jesus Gallery as part of a group show running from July 7th to 30th 2017. The blurb from the group show is below:

Tracy works primarily in transparent watercolor, layering luminous glazes of pure hue to give everything a candy coating of Easter-like color. Inspired by a collection of curiosities, along with a love of fairy tales, Art Nouveau and Old Hollywood Glamour, Tracy creates portraits of ephemeral beauty, often in a contradiction of disquiet and harmony; the compassionate femme fatale. “I am fascinated with the interconnectedness of all things, the strength, and fragility of our world, the duality of nature. The metamorphosis of life and death, the beauty of it all captures my imagination. By listening to nature’s incantations, I hope to portray in my work some of these delicate and unseen forces that surround us” states Lewis.

Transcendent by Tracy Lewis

The description “a candy coating of Easter-like color” appears on Lewis’ own website a number of times, which means that she either wrote the blurb herself, or the gallery borrowed it from her (a very common practice). Oddly, that’s exactly what I wouldn’t say about her work because I don’t think it quite gives credit to the strange intensity of her figures (her daughter, Gretchen Lewis, is the model).

Easter, Ostara, the Spring Equinox, whatever you want to call it, is when the word starts to come back to life in a blush of hesitant color. The colors are pale – completely consistent in palette for this selection – yes, but they’re also contemporary. Almost painfully contemporary and grounded so much in the now; after all, Pantone’s colors for 2016 were Rose Quartz and Serenity, the exact color schemes of all of these watercolors. Or is it more ‘millennial pink‘? Many of the pieces boast peonies, the official flower of Instagram. Art Nouveau and Old Hollywood Glamour don’t come to mind for me one bit, and I love it, because these pieces don’t feel old or backward-looking.

In the group show they aren’t in a sea of similar pieces, the fragility of the color scheme makes them leap out. While other artists seem frantic, angry, and consumed with the ugliness of consumer society, Lewis’ work is – to borrow the title of the piece to the left – Transcendent. It doesn’t strike be as ars gratia artis, but more showing the mystical spirituality in nature.

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Herland and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

File this post under blasts from the past(s). As my 10 years blogiversary approaches, I was feeling nostalgic about my old, hand-coded website, so of course I looked it up on the Wayback Machine. I was braced for something really amazing, and instead I found a website with roughly ten book reviews and three recipes on it. Despite its failure to live up to my memory of it, there were some good things there, and below are reviews of Herland and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” both by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, that I wrote way back in 2003.

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I first heard about Herland in my Introduction to Women’s Studies class in Fall 2000, but I didn’t get around to reading it for almost three years. I bought a collected works of Gilman, and I’m incredibly happy with it, though it’s important to say right off the bat that this book is not for everyone. People with absolutely no interest in women’s studies, philosophy, anthropology or even cultural studies aren’t going to get much out of it, though I would still strongly recommend her short stories (particularly “The Yellow Wallpaper”).

Herland is the story of three men, all of whom are explorers, during their stay in the eponymous Herland. They stumble upon this all-female society quite by accident and attempt to learn about their culture while shielding the women of Herland from the truths about their own. They fail miserably, but are accepted into the society, and all three eventually marry. The men in the book are very much stereotypes; there is the southern gentleman who worships the women of Herland, the womanizer who goes near-insane and leaves loathing the women, and the balanced down-to-earth guy who takes his better half back to his (our) society so that she may be able to send a report back home. The women are less stereotypes, but more homogenized, they are all extremely similar and all of the women of Herland embody all of the basic values of our society, both male and female. For example: independence, intelligence, athleticism, temperance, kindness, and self-awareness to name a few.

The real strength of this book is as a work of philosophy, using fiction as an illustrative tool that serves to show how bizarre sex and gender divides really are in society and how their maintenance is out of habit more than practicality. I don’t want to judge this as a work of fiction alone because I really think it’s an amazing piece of fictional philosophy. In short: I liked this book but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone not interested in the fields it directly pertains to.

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Camille Chew: Witch Familiar Mask Series

The Witch Familiar Mask Series is the brainchild of Camille Chew, an artist and illustrator who works heavily with occult and mystical imagery. They are available for purchase through Light Grey Art Lab for $300 each.

Camille Chew: Fox Mask

Fox Mask by Camille Chew

The wolf mask is one of my favorites from Chew’s series. I love the way the third eye is layered paper, as well as the contrasting colors, and the difference between the Fox’s eyes and the third eye. The ‘icons’ that make up the texture of the ‘fur’ are very attractive: third eyes, candles, waves (Aquarius symbol), stars, and crystal balls are all there, yet it’s still subtle. I also like that the icons are mirrored rather than randomly placed. The top of the Fox’s face appears to be decorated with white stars and lavender lines to form constellations.

Camille Chew: Rabbit Mask

Rabbit Mask by Camille Chew

Rabbit Mask is sold out, unfortunately for me, but that means one lucky person now has this beautiful piece in their home. Like Fox Mask, this piece uses icons to create texture on the face, this time in grey-blue. It’s covered in triangles, bolts, palms, and has a large palmistry style hand on the third eye. The geometric mustard yellow and black patterned ears are an especially nice touch, while the predominant color scheme of aqua and red is a personal favorite. The Rabbit’s forehead also has a celestial design with lots of twinkling, sky blue stars.

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The Teachers I Remember

With a new school year about to start in Florida I have decided to post some writing that has languished in the draft bin for a bit. This post is from a year ago when I was seriously considering leaving my public school job (which I then did).

When you have around 150 students a year, that’s a lot of lives teachers impact, and the good are just as good as the bad are bad. In High School I had 23 different teachers, here are the ones that I remember and why.

Mr. K – I was in his regular History class and he only wanted to teach AP so we just did definitions from the textbook and read the chapter (silently!) while he sat at his desk. He also left a lot for no reason, so we went through his desk and found “paraphernalia,” which we never told anyone about.

Freshman English – Some guy who was a coach and kept saying “Your ass is grass and I’m a lawnmower” which, for some reason, upset me a lot. He made us do quizzes every day, but we graded with ourselves. I think he wanted us to cheat?

Ms. K – My Junior English (AP Language) teacher was obviously talented at one time, but by the time we came around she was completely burnt out on teaching and hated us. However, as much as she hated us, she hated our affectionate nicknames even more (sorry, Kern-dawg). Once my friend wrote a paper – not on the topic assigned mind you – but about how another student (an athlete) was paying someone else to do his papers. Ms. K just wrote “I know” on her paper and drew a frown face; my friend got an A.

Physics Teacher – She was so awesome and weird and I can’t remember her name. She looked perpetually disheveled with her coke bottle glasses and mop of dark hair thrown into a ponytail that she slept on. Then she came to a play at the school, on her motorcycle, wearing red lipstick, and was easily the prettiest teacher there. Refusing to put on makeup at 5 AM was something I would identify with once I taught High School. In class when she got bored she would get a chicken from the farm class and let it run around. I was terrible at Physics, but she would give me extra credit for my doodles. I got an F, but she still invited me to be in AP Physics (back when you had to apply) because she liked having me around.

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