The three painters participating in “Les Trois Artistes,” the September exhibition in the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery, are artists whose work we have cheered since they first displayed their works in a Macon gallery.
Moving from “dabbling” in painting to actually pursuing it as a profession is a big leap that requires a lot of self confidence, tough skin and the encouragement of supporters.
Travis Hart, successful and creative hairstylist, surprised me on a visit to his salon in 2004 with a canvas he had just completed. Before that, I never knew he had been drawing and painting all of his life. So enthusiastic was Hart about a talent he had decided to take seriously, that he donated paintings to his church and to nonprofit organizations for auctions and sales, spreading the word like a Pied Piper that he was painting in earnest and had established a home studio where he would continue to develop his craft.
It is fun to follow artists from year to year to see the evolution of talent from amateur to professional, from one genre to another, from one medium to another. With Hart, it has been a whirlwind ride from the abstract and contemporary to studied impressionism.
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Michelle Lisenby, another painter in the exhibition, explores unique finishes for her paintings, employing acrylics, oil and watercolors to achieve an opalescence that is subdued, yet imposing, in predominantly monochromatic schemes.
Her canvases are infused with light, a technique Lisenby developed, which gives a shimmering luminosity to the surface. She was possibly influenced by Mark Rothko’s paintings, which she first saw at New York’s Whitney Museum — a “life changing moment,” according to Lisenby. Since that time, she has pursued painting as an avocation, with stunning results for someone who planned on “just playing around with some paints.”
Completing the trio is Cherry Brewer, a prolific and energetic painter who continues to add layers of textural interest to her canvases, creating some anticipation and excitement with each new exhibit over what might be her latest technique for glazing. Although Brewer has painted on every surface from glass to furniture, she prefers painting with acrylics on canvas, in wide swaths of intense color.
The three painters have been good friends for years, encouraging and inspiring each other in their endeavors as artists and in their personal lives. Each of them has embraced contemporary expression in their works. However, the differences in their interpretations are markedly defined. Hart’s “The Marsh,” an impressionist’s view of the ocean’s backwaters, is in stark contrast to his abstracts. “Mystere” and “What is This” are both executed in a riot of color.
Lisenby’s numbered monochromatic studies, in mixed media with resin, are easily recognizable contemporary abstracts that are mysterious in what unfolds as you look at them. The one departure from her schematic is “Red Abstract,” painted with oil and wax. The curator planned the show for this trio well, for Lisenby’s work is the serene centerpiece between her friends’ exhilarating application of color.
The abstract impressionism of Brewer’s paintings intrigues the viewer. In addition to layering her textures, she manipulates the perspective to keep you coming back for another look at what might be revealed.
Like Hart, she once was a practicing hair stylist and owner of a salon. Despite her plans to become a commercial artist, she said she realizes her work as a stylist was a creative process — a precursor to her painting. The works of all three painters complement and enhance each other with the interpretations of their surroundings and are influenced by their past experiences and histories.
When the trio’s collaboration opened on First Friday, the Vineyard Band and a few other Macon musicians were scheduled to play under a tent on the sidewalk outside Macon Arts. However, the threat of severe thunderstorms (which never materialized) quashed those plans. According to executive director Jan Beeland, Macon Arts looks forward to adding music on occasion to the First Friday events and will reschedule the band. “Les Trois Artistes” will be on display in the gallery until Sept. 30.
A SHOUTOUT TO OUR TEAM
Although the Mercer Bears lost to Georgia Tech in Atlanta in their first match up since 1938, John Russ’ pass to Avery Ward stunned the crowd as Mercer made the first touchdown of the game.
What Mercer lacked in size — compared to Tech’s players — they made up in true grit, witnessed by Tech scrambling to hold Mercer at 10 points. There is some consolation in knowing that the Yellow Jackets were worn out by the end of the game, for Russ and the Bears made a lasting impression on the Ramblin’ Wreck, whose coach said he wished his team had played better!