June 5, 2008 - Mango Tango Seaside Art Gallery opens a four-artist show from 5:30-8:30 p.m., this Friday, June 6, at the Yacht Haven Grande gallery. The exhibit will showcase the oil paintings of Kristen Maize and Brian Murphy, the mixed media paintings of W. B. Thompson and the ceramic sculpture of Mandy Thody. Enjoy the music of 2 Blue Shoes during the champagne reception. Kristen Maize is a newcomer to gallery. Plein air artist Murphy has been working with the gallery for four years. The maestro of color and texture, Thompson has shown with Mango Tango for over decade, while stellar ceramicist Mandy Thody joined the gallery in 2002.
Gallery co-owner Jane Coombes explains the importance of shows for artists. "The artists are given the show date a year in advance. It gives them time for thought, sketching and overall experimenting. At the unveiling, as a gallery owner, I expect growth, new directions and new processes in each artist's oeuvre. Someone might buy a painting at any time, but the paintings enter the gallery setting through the rigors of being part of a show."
Maize, who grew up on St. John, participated in the marina gallery's grand opening. Gallery co-owner Smokey Pratt says, "Having a framing division lets us see a great deal of art. We discovered Maize through framing works for her for a show at Michael Banzhaf's fine jewelry and gallery space in Mongoose Junction. At this time her art is a reflection of her love of nature, particularly as it relates to the sea." In her job in the environmental science field she works closely with the natural environment, which keeps her in touch with and appreciative of the beauty of her surroundings. Her direction in painting comes from her formal art training at the University of San Diego and her private art studies with Mercedese Bantz.
Brian Murphy received classical training in fine art and illustration at Savannah College of Art and Design. While there he gained experience in oil painting and found direction for his impressionistic landscapes. He is known for talent in his painting on location, working from direct observation, in true plein air fashion. With his hardboard on an easel, natural light becomes central to a Murphy painting. Outdoors, he describes his task as "capturing a moment in life, a time and place, to document the reality of our times."
In the studio he uses flowers, fruits and other objects to create superb still lifes. Murphy also uses his studio time to explore different techniques on larger canvas, often using an intimate small outdoor painting for the basis of the composition.
W. B. Thompson is one of the most collected artists working in the Virgin Islands. However, he has attained the same status in San Antonio, Texas where he began showing work while he attended Trinity University. Four years ago Trinity University published a book, "San Antonio in Color," featuring over 100 of Thompson's paintings. The Texas Express News hailed it as the "best book of the year." Recently Art Inc. in San Antonio gave Thompson a show featuring the framed works of all the paintings in the book. Over 80 paintings sold before opening night.
Gallery co-owner Jane Coombes observes, "we all look forward to a Caribbean book someday." While he is most famous for his wildly exuberant images of familiar streets, buildings, and beaches of the islands, he surprises us with freer works in which he uses more of his imagination than reality. He says he finds this new direction "liberating."
Mandy Thody grew up in Zululand and then spent 20 years exploring the world by sailboat. She and her daughter have jumped ship and live close to the rain forest on St. Croix. The increased space has given her the opportunity to build a large studio that allows her to create substantial sculpture. The influence of 'going back to the land' there has also given a much more specifically tribal feel to this new body of work--life size African heads and busts in high-fire with coatings of plain metal oxides, which are then polished with waxes to the sheen of skin. The eyes are open to the world, in a departure from Mandy's usual preference for contemplation with closed eyes. The necks are elegantly turned or arched. Thody explains that "the Zulu believe the neck is the strongest part of the body, and most Zulu women can carry 100 lbs. on their heads."
The show continues for one month. For more information, call 715-2789.