Sometimes disparate styles meld together to create a more cohesive whole. “Bits N’ Pieces” brings together Suzanne Fisher, a multimedia artist and mosaic muralist, and Jo Ann Berger, a toy designer and eclectic artist who both use found and discarded objects as well as unorthodox design to create contemporary art that borrows from the past.
Berger has taken her experience in designing three dimensional objects for children and applied it toward the adult world with tongue-in-cheek appropriation of classic works as well as tactile and interactive playthings that may appeal to the modern consumer without the saccharine overtones often associated with such an endeavor. As well as useable potholders which display often recognizable art , Berger has a limited production run of adult toys called the Quirksters.
The first two dolls are “Anxiety Annie” and “Gemme Monster” which each cleverly satirize archetypes of modern life. “Anxiety Annie” features hair made entirely of question marks, a detachable thermometer to diagnose her hypochondria and vestments made from disturbing newspaper headlines. Her worried expression and sleepless eyes combine with her sewn shut mouth to give the figure a dystopian Tim Burton-esque disturbance. “Gemme Monster” also translated as gimme monster, is a child obsessed with gaining, acquiring and having everything. “I want” is inscribed on the doll’s torso and its eyes glance to the side perhaps because it spies something else which inspires avarice. These dolls began as two dimensional paintings but were then prototyped over several generations and ended up on a limited production run of ten each.
Suzanne Fisher uses inspiration from nature and natural elements to create mosaics and mixed media work which reflect influences from traditional Asian as well as impressionist styles. One of her ongoing series in entitled “Magical Landscapes” and uses real and imagined landscapes and memories of willow trees and ponds to motivate the works. “Spring Grove Pond with Willow Branches #2” is a mixed-media work which exemplifies this approach. With a background of vertical brush-strokes on canvas, three large willow branches hang down in front of the multi-hued green field. The willow leaves are made of painted cloth, colored paper and painted newsprint. The leaves are well defined, but are loosely connected and bring to mind Chinese freehand style brush-strokes. Superimposed upon the large landscape are two smaller images of the pond. Dappled sunlight is reflected in a less than defined, but still beautiful way, and Giverny must be at least a reference in this case if not a direct inspiration. From as distance the work is seamless and cohesive, not revealing its mixed-media construction until a closer inspection is undertaken.
Closer to Fisher’s expertise in combining mosaic and modern tile technique is “Gustav:Eye”. Based upon Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”, “Gustav:Eye” is a detail of the right eye of the subject Bloch-Bauer. Part of Fisher’s series “Klimt Variations”, a combination of gold foil, glass tiles and glass marbles are combined to reference sacred/spiritual connotations of traditional religious mosaic as well as modern tile work. Klimt’s basis for his first portrait of Bloch-Bauer was the exquisite early Christian gold mosaics, and the portrait achieved a simulacrum of the mosaic using gold foil and paint. Here, Fisher reverses the process and reclaims Klimt’s homage to mosaic by reconstructing in this detail his painted image with mosaic. The shards tiled into Adele’s hair create every bit as much texture and contrast as the original, and the skin of her face is painstakingly replicated through intricate placement of pieces with exactly the required hue and shape. Her eye is the most impressive aspect of this detail of “Portrait”. The iris and pupil capture all the color variation in her green eye and the pupil manages to reflect the sultry and jaded expression of the model with perfect mosaic work.
Fond objects and heavily influenced subjects if not techniques unite Fisher and Berger. While each artist clearly approaches her work with distinctly individual technique, an honestly cohesive aesthetic is maintained throughout “Bits N’ Pieces”, a sign of talented curation which is more rare than not.
Bits N’ Pieces
November 8 – December 3
Caza Sikes Gallery
3078 Madison Road