Saturday, November 4, 2017

Picasso's in the Building

"Picasso Red Carpet" 
by Helen Gerro

Each year the Visual Arts Center hosts a Fine Arts Festival during which an artist or artistic period is celebrated. In years past, Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Michelangelo v. Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe have served as motifs.

Each Festival features a line-up of events for both artists and art lovers, from lectures and book discussions to a "sip and paint" evening to a party. But the heart of each Festival is its art exhibit. Replicating paintings done by the masters is a long-established method by which artists learn. And so, in previous years, artists have happily recreated artwork of well-known artists, with some impressive results.

But the law reared its ugly head with the choice of Picasso for this year's theme. Because Pablo died in 1973, his work is not yet in the public domain. And while artists can still copy his work for their own purposes, the sale of those works could run afoul of copyright laws.  Hence, this year's "Inspired by Picasso" theme.

Personally, I like this approach better. Artists still stretch themselves to paint in an unfamiliar style but employ their own creativity in developing the work.

Take, for instance, Robert Pavon's "Girl Before a Mirror." Pavon is an instructor at the Visual Arts Center. Although he works in a variety of media, I associate him with charcoal and pastels. So I was surprised and delighted to see this large oil painting. I love the juxtaposition of his beautifully painted woman with Picasso's semi-abstract girl. (Picasso painted this work during his Cubist period, but she's way too recognizable to be a true part of that genre.)

I was also "wowed" by Helen Gerro's "Picasso Red Carpet" shown above. Gerro is a designer and artist whose studio is in the Atelier in Punta Gorda. Her striking work has graced runways throughout Florida as well as in cities like Atlanta and New York. I'm also taken with her paintings of women, which are bold and bright and leave a lasting impression. (To see more of Gerro's work, click here.)

"A Picasso Wedding" by Barbara Albin
One of my favorite works in the show is a collage done by Barbara Albin. The story behind it is just so great. Straight out of school, Barbara was living in Chicago and dating a fellow artist by the name of Wayne Albin. They decided to get married, but it had to be just the right place.

A Chicago newspaper had a "wanna be" column to which people would write with their dreams. Barb had an idea. "Dear Beeline," her letter read, "We "Wanna Bee" married in front of the Picasso sculpture in the Loop. The Picasso seems somehow appropriate because art is what brought us together." (This letter is, of course, part of the collage.)

Imagine Barb's surprise when she got a call from the paper asking if she and Wayne would rather get married on Friday or Saturday of the following week. The couple said their vows a few days later in front of Picasso's five story statue in Daley Plaza with friends and family surrounding them.

I'd be remiss not to mention the creativity and talent of our 3D artists. Only Belinda Duclos would have the guts to create a Picasso-inspired stained glass work. Her "Monolithic Act in Two Parts" was modeled after Picasso's "Monolithic Nude." His work happens to have a line smack dab in the middle of the woman's body that provided the perfect place for Belinda to break this work into two parts.

Like Pavon, Belinda is an instructor at the Visual Arts Center. She teaches stained glass and silver and copper jewelry making. (She has some jewelry in the exhibit as well.)  Her students always seem to be having way too much fun, particularly when they're doing metal work. As we say, Belinda and her students play with fire -- literally.

If you're in Southwest Florida, swing by the Visual Arts Center before November 30 and check out the exhibit. Better yet, take in the exhibit and join us for some of the other fun events!  For a listing, go to

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