Archive for Friday, April 27, 2007

Landlocked artist doesn’t let geography curtail inspiration

This detail from "Shoreline" shows one-third of the triptych by Lawrence artist Pam Sullivan. The fiber mixed-media piece uses dye sublimation and writing on organza, as well as stitching, among other techniques. Sullivan's work will be featured at Diane's Artisan Gallery during tonight's Downtown Friday Gallery Walk.

This detail from "Shoreline" shows one-third of the triptych by Lawrence artist Pam Sullivan. The fiber mixed-media piece uses dye sublimation and writing on organza, as well as stitching, among other techniques. Sullivan's work will be featured at Diane's Artisan Gallery during tonight's Downtown Friday Gallery Walk.

April 27, 2007

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Participating Locations include:

Bella Memento Gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., featuring the new mixed media and flower prints by Dwain Workman

Diane's Artisan Gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., featuring new work by Lawrence fiber/mixed media artist Pam Sullivan

Kimbari, 822 Mass., exhibit featuring paintings on plexiglass by Kansas artist Alissa Gillespie Sheley

Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., featuring work by Lawrence elementary and junior high school students

Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., featuring "Two Mothers, Two Sons," by Lawrence artists Lora Jost and Sara Stalling and their sons

Phoenix Gallery, 919 Mass., featuring fine woodwork by Ted Thomas of Linwood

Signs of Life Gallery, 722 Mass., featuring paintings by Sara Hayward and Paul Powis, and "The Circus Series," monotypes by Ed Knippers, in the South Gallery (open until 10 p.m.)

Silver Works and More, 715 Mass., featuring ceramic tiles by Irene Otis and woodwork by Spencer Peterman

Southwest and More, 727 Mass., a gallery redesign celebration featuring hand-crafted solid hardwood furniture by Frontier Furniture and hand-blown glass by Treavor Holdman of Lehi, Utah

More than 700 miles from the closest arm of an ocean, it's unusual to find a Kansas artist whose artwork is all inspired by the sea.

But Pam Sullivan has a good reason for using the soft colors and subtle motions of ocean water as the basis for the various mixed-media art she creates. Her husband is a retired naval officer, and after the two graduated from Kansas University, they moved to one large coastal town then another, on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Sullivan, again a Lawrence resident, is the featured artist at Diane's Artisan Gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., during tonight's Downtown Friday Gallery Walk. She'll have several pieces on display, but the primary piece will be a 30 inch-by-30 inch mixed-media piece that involves an aqua-colored base, copper leaf pieces on parts of the painting and fiber weaving in long strips to deliver a textured appearance.

"You develop a real attachment to some of your work. Certain pieces - including the one in this show - are ones I didn't want to let go," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the piece also incorporates text, which appears in almost all of her work. Its subtlety, and lack of true form, can make it hard for the average person to see the words.

"What it means, that's up to you. It's what you make of it," Sullivan said. "It isn't something you need to stand there and read. You make up the story."

Sullivan works with a variety of different substances when making her art, but each piece ultimately is inspired by the sea. She sometimes uses organza or other fibers to give her art texture. She likes to use both pure copper and copper leaf or foil to provide the piece with a distinctive look. She treats the pure copper with wax so that it doesn't discolor.

In her years of artwork, there have been dramatic shifts in the way each piece is created, but she's remained committed to the sea. Each piece she creates develops from the piece before, she says, meaning that pieces often share similar appearances.

Sullivan's friend, Diane Horning - the namesake and owner of Diane's Artisan Gallery - says it was only natural that she feature Sullivan during this year's event.

"Three years ago, Pam was one of my first customers," Horning says. "I started collecting her work personally, one thing led to another and I was able to cajole her into displaying her work here."

Horning said she hoped Sullivan's participation in the Gallery Walk would help elevate the artist's stature among the local community. She's known, but not well enough, Horning says.

"I find her work just kind of glows. It's soft and there's layers to it," she adds.

As for the Gallery Walk itself, Horning says it's like a gallery opening - or a party.

Various downtown locations will be taking part, with a special exhibition of art by elementary and junior high students being held at the Lawrence Arts Center. Signs of Life Gallery will feature three artists in two galleries - more than any other location. The artists will debut their latest works as part of the Gallery Walk.

The event takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, and will feature artists at nine galleries in the downtown area. Admission is free.

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