Funky and Beau­ti­ful…garbage ?

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Made­line Mulholland Stanstead

The Olde Black­smith Gallery hosted its’ last vernissage on Labour Day week­end and it was a sur­prise and joy to be­hold. I re­al­ize many of us do not visit art gal­leries very of­ten. And due to that ironic twist of hu­man na­ture, many of us fail to ap­pre­ci­ate what we have at our own back door. Hence, there are prob­a­bly many lo­cals who do not visit the lo­cal gal­leries. This week you may wish to make an ex­cep­tion.

The artists on dis­play this week are ex­tra­or­di­nary. Per­haps this is my per­sonal bias, as we all have our own dis­tinct taste in art, but I en­joyed the art so much I never touched the hors d’oeu­vres and al­most for­got to in­ter­view the artists be­fore they left.

The land­scapes on dis-

play are by lo­cal artists Christa Kotiesen and Libbey Grif­fith. Some say that to see one land­scape you have seen them all. It is an artist’s chal­lenge to cre­ate a land­scape that stands out amongst the mul­ti­tude on dis­play in ev­ery gallery we visit. Grif­fith and Kotiesen have ac­com­plished this. Grif­fith paints in oils while Kotiesen’s work is in pas­tel. There were a few can­vasses I found out­stand­ing. Most are scenes of the lo­cal coun­try­side. A small oil de­pict­ing snow cov­ered ev­er­greens, and an­other of a trac­tor in a field, were both beau­ti­ful. The light­ing de­picted in the paint­ings was so re­al­is­tic it gave one a pal­pa­ble feel­ing of be­ing present in the scene.

The Art-of-Garbage, which is not its’ for­mal ti­tle but one which I have as­signed it for lack of a more apt name, was noth­ing short of in­spi­ra­tional. If you dream of a home filled with ‘funky and fun’, then the artis­tic cre­ations of Brigitte Mit­tel­ham­mer and Liz­beth LaRoche are for you.

The two artists both ex­plain that their art and tech­nique has evolved over the years to the point where they now find pieces of garbage, or ‘dis­owned items’, and turn them into pieces of art. And be­fore you en­vi­sion men­tal im­ages of rusted bed springs sus­pended with dirty twine from a splin­tered plank of barn board, let me dis­pel any no­tion of ‘ugly’ you may have con­jured at the men­tion of this tech­nique. In short, the art­works are each very beau­ti­ful, fan­ci­ful and some­times even util­i­tar­ian. From lamps to stat­ues, the pieces are all very orig­i­nal and colour­ful. The at­ten­tion to de­tail is mag­nif­i­cent. Each time I looked more closely at a lamp I con­tin­ued to find de­tails I had missed previously. There is a lot of pas­sion and fun in the pieces that transcend the cre­ative process and man­i­fest them­selves in the ac­tual items in front of you. They all ap­pear to have been fun to cre­ate, and they seem to be able to com­mu­ni­cate that joy when you look at them.

From a lamp with tea cups in place of can­dle hold­ers, floor lamps clev­erly dis­guised as women, whim­si­cal stat­uettes and wooden paint­ings of a wonky look­ing wolf, the whole ex­hi­bi­tion was ex­cit­ing. None of it looked like dis­carded ma­te­rial, which was likely quite a feat in it­self.

The two artists are friends and as­so­ci­ates. They each cre­ate their own pieces, but work to­gether in a shared stu­dio. At times they dis­man­tle ob­jects, each us­ing parts for their own cre­ations. They both are em­phatic that they re­ally en­joy their cre­ative process and the re­sults. Brigitte spoke to me of a Ja­panese phi­los­o­phy called Wabi-Sabi, which is the art of see­ing beauty in im­per­fec­tion. The fi­nal piece is not the pri­mary goal of their artis­tic process. Their phi­los­o­phy is more about en­joy­ing each mo­ment, ex­press­ing their cre­ativ­ity freely without thought of the end re­sult, and en­joy­ing the jour­ney.

Photo Made­line Mulholland

Photo Made­line Mulholland

Fan­ci­ful stat­uette made from trash.

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