Canvassing the movies

Originally from OrlandoCityBeat.com, March 1, 2004

Coinciding with the Oscars, the Oval Gallery, 29 S. Orange Ave., has opened Movies! Movies! Movies!, a film-themed presentation of two dozen paintings, drawings, photographs and multi-media works by local artists. Although it is satisfying to find a free gallery open late downtown and encouraging local talent, if you come expecting unique uses of media or truly interesting subjects, this is one exhibit clearly not worth its weight in celluloid.

Most works focus on one or two images from a specific movie or attempt to capture the feel of a certain genre. Liz Watkins’ Queen of Film Noir, an acrylic recreation of a classic 1940s leading lady, appears more as a charcoal work, appropriate to capture the smoldering sultriness of its subject. Winner of the exhibition’s best in show award, this piece, while executed well, is by no means the most imaginative in the gallery.

Decent marks should also go to the two winners of honorable mentions, Marilyn Kinsel’s Ruby Slipper and Steven Schain’s Borg. Kinsel’s Slipper, a dichroic glass image of the famous foot from The Wizard of Oz, features silver paint behind the slipper with a cranberry red on top. Once the dichroic process is completed by insertion into a spinning machine that deposits the color, Kinsel then fires the piece to about 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, completing a day-long process. Unlike Slipper, where the true art is more about the process than the end result, with Borg, what you see is what you get, and that happens to be one of the most imaginative and well-executed paintings in the gallery, a Matrix-inspired image of eerie luminescence.

Despite not garnering one of the top three prizes, Steve Villalobos is the best represented, with the most impressive multi-media work. Bond Girl, a painting featuring three-dimensional simulated bullet holes in the canvas and real earrings and a necklace adorning the sexy subject, is the show’s most memorable piece. Villalobos also has a pair of small paintings that brilliantly capture images of refracted light, using as their subjects images from 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010.

Predictably, Audrey Hepburn shows up in a couple of works, as do Rhett and Scarlett from Gone with the Wind.  Al Pacino from Scarface, basking in a moody green treatment by German Lemus, is present too, along with the sharp-lined and forceful face of Akira Kurasawa, by Aimee Watters. Abstracts and free-form works can be found also, from Nicole Doria’s swirling image of a Hitchockian world to several paintings and drawings mixing traditional cinematic imagery with explosions of color, nature and the human form.

Coming soon will also be four short films by local artists, including a 20-minute work by Carl Knickerbacker, which should give the show a much-needed boost in energy and variety.

The Oval should be applauded for picking a theme that is popular, thought-provoking and easy to transfer from the screen to the canvas. But next time it should more actively seek artists, broaden its artistic scope from mostly paintings to sculpture and more multi-media, and encourage works that more deeply delve into the emotions and passion of the topic. Because of its lack of artistic depth and thrown-together feel, this paint flick must regrettably receive a thumbs-down vote.