Friday, March 24, 2017 2:47 am Last modified: 1:59 am

Mango Tango Art Gallery Opens Exhibit of Works by McCuddin and Thody

paintings by Mel McCuddin

Mango Tango Art Gallery on Raphune Hill will exhibit works by Mel McCuddin and Mandy Thody beginning with an opening reception from 5:30-8:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24. McCuddin will be displaying over 20 new oil-on-canvas paintings. Mandy Thody will be showing works on paper and ceramics.

When visiting family in Spokane, Washington, the gallery’s owners discovered McCuddin, who began working with the gallery in a group show about 10 years ago. Although his images were not tropical, his figurative expressionistic style resonated with both islanders and visitors.

McCuddin participated in a few more group shows before earning the annual solo shows at Mango Tango. However, while his paintings fascinate viewers, the emotional response is not always positive. McCuddin accepts that his work is not for everyone. Gallery owner Jane Coombes, observes that “the dark imagery of some of the paintings heralds the brightness of life.”

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Now his solo show each February is one of the most anticipated exhibitions hosted by the gallery. McCuddin said, “I have been doing this for over 60 years and still find it interesting and fun. There is no common theme to this show. Each work is unique. The only thing that they have in common is that they all relate in some way to the human experience.”

a drawing on paper by Mandy Thody

Mandy Thody began exhibiting with the gallery over 16 years ago. She excels at painting and drawing on paper the faces of the people of Zulu Land, South Africa, where she spent her formative years and the faces of the people of the Caribbean, where she now lives. The same portraiture deftly became impressive sculpted figures when she began working in ceramics.

Coombes observes that previously the gallery had no one-of-a-kind ceramics until the figurative works of Thody were displayed. Her mastery of the form included completing two life-sized bas relief installations, one a pair of Tainos for a Peterborg residence, and the other an African mother, father and child displayed on the outer arched walls of a St. John villa.

She joined a group of concerned Virgin Islanders to help Haitians near Petite Gouave where the earthquake of 2010 destroyed, among many structures, the school. By 2013, Thody became the administrative director of the Good Samaritan Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating and feeding Haitian children.

She had just begun a new theme in her figurative ceramic works for the current show, space aliens, when her work in Haiti called upon her to return. Subsequently, she faced the recent hurricane with teachers, children and volunteers. Her focus needed to move from her ceramics to Haiti for collecting and distributing monies for the relief work.

Because of the demands of overseeing a non-profit, she has decided to go on a self-imposed sabbatical from ceramics and return to the first medium she mastered: pen and ink. “Drawing and painting on paper is a very flexible art process and can be accomplished anywhere I find myself,” Thody said.

“Whatever medium I choose will represent the themes that interest me — the face reflecting thoughts, black versus white, and every culture I have encountered. Working in aid to Haiti overwhelms me with the contrasts between rural life that could be in the 1900s, scant resources, great health dangers, about which we are barely aware in the modern world, and the technology of that modern world — cell phones, the Internet, solar. I seek balance in my actions and my art.”

In addition to the current show, the gallery houses a treasure trove of earlier paintings created by McCuddin and ceramics by Thody. All works are for sale.

The artists will be on hand to discuss their creations at the rum punch reception. Musical virtuoso Morgan Rael will return to play guitar and steel pan.

The show will continue for one month.

For more information call 777-3060.

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