Through June 23, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center is presenting the paintings of Katherine Pappas-Parks, and the sculptures and drawings of Junko Iijima.
Enchantment with the Observable World, Meteora III, 2005
Pappas-Parks is an accomplished artist who is shown and collected nationally and internationally. Her Greek heritage informs this series of six paintings called At the Edge of the Sky. These are landscapes with various organic elements, ephemera and cultural icons in the foreground. One includes the waist-up nude figure of a lovely young woman.
Enchantment with the Observable World, Meteora I-IV is a series of four paintings of variations of the same landscape: otherworldly Devil's Tower-like mounds in a flat vista. In the foreground of each is a red shelf or ledge containing a glass or vase, plants such as lilies, and a book or other culturally significant object. Aphrodite's Gift From Paris, which has the nude figure, gives us two green pears rather than one golden apple. All of the paintings have edges of gold leaf which reference Greek Orthodox or Byzantine religious artifacts.
Pappas-Parks calls her work "Painterly Realistic" and lists as influences Surrealism and Magic Realism. She was also influenced by the 20th Century writer Nikos Kazantzakis, who wrote of "beauty in an object as simple as a rock." Though indeed painterly, her technique results in a softness that, were it not for its intensity, might remind one of watercolor or airbrush. Her colors emphasize the painterly effect.
Hybridization, Object Study, 2005
Junko Iijima's installation, Hybridization, uses its small space dramatically, with 24 black and white drawings in black lacquer frames, and 12 red pedestals on which sit small dark bronze sculptures. The carpet in the room is grey, and the walls off-white. The simplicity of the effect is distinctively oriental.
Iijima, who grew up in Japan and currently lives in the U.S., has achieved a melding of cultures with these works. The bronze sculptures are small, heavy, nonfunctional interpretations of Nanbu Ironware. The forms are influenced by "contemporary American pop culture, creating hybrids of new and old, East and West." Some of the sculptures have a shape reminiscent of teakettles, while others, and most of the drawings, have an organic, diatomaceous look. This is where the modern influence is most keenly observed.
Iijima includes with her statement on this exhibit and biography a "brief history of Japan and America" that emphsizes the trade of physical goods, leading to a cultural blending. Her explorations lead her to examine her heritage in the light of her current environment. The result is a formal elegance imbued with just a hint of an anime kick.