The cold weather encourages strains of "Winter Wonderland," but the two current exhibits at the Sumter Gallery of Art celebrate water wonderlands, creativity and a measure of warmth. Jocelyn Chateauvert's "Paper Wrangler" and Sumter native Mary Ann Reames' "Landscape of My Life" showcase the artists' 30 years each of dedication to art.
Chateauvert's exhibit is like walking into a Disney undersea fantasia with the Little Mermaid. Her pieces are magical. Not everything is about the sea, but it is about creativity of using the artist's handmade paper: "the most common and least known material: paper. Oversized and immersive, diminutive and whimsical, my pieces dilate the natural world and bring it inside." Her bust forms capture the feminine laciness of ruffs and collars, combining subtle color combinations that emphasize delicate shapes and textures. Her massive morning glory installation flows across the ceiling, using only one box of her five-box collection of the sprawling, joyously shaped white and beige blossoms.
The majority of her pieces create a mystical sense of underwater experiences. Large multi-colored forms hang from the ceiling seeming to immerse the viewer in an underwater fairyland of large anemones, floating jellyfish and other fragile-looking sea growth. Her use of texture is incredibly complex and delicate, often layering shapes and combining an aura of movement and form. Close inspection of her creations reveal multiple layers of silky lace like plants and deeply intense combinations of growth. Some structures are lit from underneath adding to a sense of depth and texture.
Chateauvert's large paper quilt is a patchwork of yellowy beige squares of complex textures and designs. Its immense size contrasts with the intricacy of the various small panels. It consumes the room's corner but is almost overwhelmingly filled with subtle motion and individuality.
Sumter native Mary Ann Reames' "Landscape of My Life" celebrates her many roles - teacher, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, neighbor and artist. The variety of composition, technique and subject matter highlight her many artistic abilities. Paintings like "Exchange Building" and other subjects like cows, palm fronds and flowers in a water-filled vase attest to her ability as a realistic painter. Her intimate portraits of children, "Digging Shells," "Green Shoal," "Beach Girl," "Building Castles" and the exuberant expression on the young girl holding apples, accentuate her skill as a portrait painter.
It is her landscapes and use of water that afford an exciting look at her range of artistic skills. Her oil on linen "Wadmalaw River Creek" captures the secluded winding road, solitary mailbox and dripping moss. "Sunrise at Willie Sue's" underscores her "sky's the limit" ability to evoke emotion: darker clouds billow but are lifted by the yellow-and-pastel background, creating a sense of urgency and calmness. "Morning Tide" is emotionally charged with the splaying of yellow/orange over the green-and-blue-tinged water and the impact of the sun. Compositions like "Wake" capture the motion of waves, seeming to move within the painting. "Outgoing Tide," somewhat impressionistic, recalls the vast horizon given life with the flow of the sky and the downward moving light into the coral-tinged water, a subtle moment emphasized by the openness of Reames' technique. A painter of varied subjects, her overall handling of sky and water, her ability to use oil or acrylic, realism or impressionism, combine to make her exhibit an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Both artists demonstrate their 30 years of dedication to art has been time well spent. The two exhibits will remain at gallery until Jan. 11, 2019. For more information, contact the gallery, 200 Hasell St., at (803) 775-0543. Admission is free and open to the public.
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