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Encounters: Real and Imagined:
Amy Lamb, Gail Marcus-Orlen, and Cynthia Miller

Exhibition:  Encounters: Real and Imagined
Photographs by Amy Lamb and paintings by Gail Marcus - Orlen and Cynthia Miller

Dates:  March 23 - May 29, 2004   

Reception:    March 27th, 7 - 10 pm

Location:  Etherton Gallery   135 S. Sixth Avenue

Hours:  11-5 Tuesday - Saturday 11-7 Thursday

Etherton Gallery's Encounters: Real and Imagined investigates the sensual complexities of organic form in radiant photographs of flowers, and painterly regions simultaneously inhabited by the routines of daily existence and the world of imagination " the familiar-made-strange. The exhibition features the work of Amy Lamb, Gail Marcus-Orlen and Cynthia Miller.  

Gail Marcus-Orlen
The magic realism of Gail Marcus-Orlen's paintings offers timelessly relevant comments about the fantasy of dreams and the stuff of daily life. Merging the genres of still life and landscape, Gail Marcus-Orlen's tilted picture planes and multi-layered illusions flow together, metamorphosing into magical environments and living dreams.  Iconic cats and dogs in celebratory tableau's, windows and stairways to mirrored realms, mixed fruit and emblematic pears, all perform in abstract spaces that tumble across landscapes and interiors marked by the incongruities associated with dreams. With these brightly hued memoirs of things past and present Orlen pulls us in, making us participants in the act of viewing and imagining.

Known for her longstanding interest in magical, surreal environments, Orlen takes the most common household objects: plants, furniture, animals, children's multi-colored balls, releases them from any gravitational pull, and weaves them into an allegorical narrative of the familiar-made-strange. Bound more by ironic association, than their physicality, her juxtaposition of objects, shadowy figures and mannequin forms charge the domestic environment with the possibility for mystery. Formal elements include geometric divisions and off-center compositions. Inverted triangles and picture frames bordered by patterned walls contain the images and create a sense of equanimity for the activity within. Complicated passages intermingle in her still-life's, mixed fruit cascades in a waterfall of drapes, while in another apples, oranges, and houses perform in a stage like setting, lighted by a vivid palette of complimentary hues.

Currently, painterly gridded backdrops and deceptive perspectival passageways set the stage. Remnants of landscapes emerge and diverge into places where children, a nude, and men in suits are engaged in enigmatic pursuits.  In these new works the ebullient palette creates a visually seductive, illusionistic light replete with painted shadows that suggest the radiant sunlight of Orlen's world. Surrounded by unexplained events people, flowers, and birds of every feather, perform in varying planes of illusion at once activating and dissembling the physicality of existence. As the real and the imagined muse in Orlen's suggestive realms, her layering of illustration and illusion suggests an enigmatic sense of linkage to the realm of the physical and the fabulous.   

Amy Lamb
Lamb's photographs invite us to meet the complexities and mysteries of organic form. Having pursued a career as a research biologist before becoming a photographer Amy Lamb culls her imagery from the beauty and precision found in the natural world. Her photographs of the structures of fruits and flowers demonstrate the elegant balance of form and function as she states, I am continually awed by nature's graceful designs·and seek to convey some of this magnificence through the medium of photography.

Lambs photographs of pressed and dried flowers are printed on textured watercolor and handmade papers at David Adamson Editions employing an Iris printer. This particular printing process renders the image in a way that projects the precision of the photographic process while maintaining the softness of the flower's form. In this way Lamb achieves what she calls, the gentleness of nature with Iris printing. This digital printing process sprays inks on textured and absorbent watercolor paper resulting in a tone process, somewhat like aquatint that is adapted to the rendering of transparent effects.

Recalling the works of the German photographer Karl Blossfeldt, Lamb makes the most of what she calls the architecture of the flower. I want to present flowers in a fresh way. I enlarge them so people can see their structure and design. I want them to look at a flower like an architect would look at a building.

Cynthia Miller
A departure from her Domestica series Miller's new works collects random iconography from daily life and art history. Imbued with the layered textures and patterns of her furniture paintings, her new paintings, begin, and begin again later, reflecting the broken sequence of attention that is modern life, i.e. ten minutes of this experience, thirty minutes of that, five minutes next, but you think about it all day long.

Known for her Domestica series, Miller's preoccupation with the commonplace delves the region simultaneously inhabited by the routines of daily existence and the world of her imagination. Within the wanderings of metaphorical connotation she divines aesthetic pleasure derived from objects and domiciles that echo Vincent Van Gogh's emotive responses to the resplendent color of natural and interior spaces. Miller's use of birds, crosses, cactus flowers, and desert creatures planted in the background serve not only to enliven the furniture, but also imply a magical landscape beyond the walls.

Conjuring the magical-symbolist composition of Klee and the peerless interiors of Henri Matisse, she presents single pieces of furniture, ranging from children's chairs to the traditional Southwestern alacena (a wooden cupboard that fits in a niche), and household objects. Placed against her backdrops splashed with spontaneous dashes, arabesques, and dancing patterns of light and color, Miller's work dwells in the rhythmic cadences of pattern, gesture and the allegorical possibilities of the commonplace. The actuality of objects transformed by gesture and her interest in mixing painted and drawn styles resonates with a prepossessing poignancy -the fundamental aspect of things animated by painterly physicality.

Miller's preoccupation with the commonplace delves the region simultaneously inhabited by the routines of daily existence and the world of her imagination. In her new works the broken sequence of attention that is modern life is reflected in the layered textures and patterns of the fundamental aspect of things animated by painterly physicality.