January 2024: “When the Sky Looks In” by Annieo Klaas & “Sometimes You Get Shown the Light” A Poet’s Explorations in Watercolor & Ink” by Vernon Fowlkes

When the Light Looks In showcases how sunlight shines softly through the clouds, casting shadows off window blinds and the flowers in the windowsill. They add a shimmery layer on top of this open window, this steaming, breathing, fresh-baked loaf of a painting, open and reaching with its canvas weave and brushstrokes, attempting to grasp out at the sky or- open out to it? It is the shape of a window, and it holds an invitation to enter another world in the same way that a window does. You can step through it with your eyes, lie down, and daydream in it in the same way that you would with a window. But it is not a window, just like Magritte’s pipe was not a pipe. So, the sun-shadows of the window blinds and flowers become the hints that break the illusion, the ephemeral travelers that go where we cannot.

Annieo Klaas is an oil painter that grew up in Dakar, Senegal and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Seattle, Washington at Cornish College of the Arts in 2015. Her work is a part of the Fred Hutch Cornish Collection in Seattle, Washington, as well as other personal collections across the US and in Senegal. She was commissioned as part of a team to create a permanent outdoor mural for InCity Properties’ “The Local” at 422 Summit Ave E in Seattle, WA in 2015 and is now based in Mobile, AL. Selected group exhibitions include: “NEU DAWN 6” Curated by Courtney Matthews for the Alabama Contemporary Art Center (Mobile, AL, 2023) and “Atmospheric Perspective” curated by Sarah Bernhardt at Intersect Arts Center in St Louis, MO (Oct-Nov 2022).

Sometimes You Get Shown the Light explores how, at certain moments, the world seems to radiate its own light. Accentuated by shadow and silhouette, everything appears imbued with luminescence. The largely semi-abstract pieces in this exhibition are an exploration of that idea. We can also imagine that, when viewed, this luminosity sits inside the observer as well, not just metaphorically, but both biologically and philosophically.

A relative newcomer in the visual arts, Mobile native Vernon Fowlkes has been a poet for 50 years, and in 2022 began exploring a new avenue of creativity in semi-abstract landscape painting with the dynamic media of watercolors and India inks. “I’m intrigued by these water-based media and how they can actively participate in the creative process with their movement and flow in such a way that a painting can suggest, even dictate, its final form. There’s a parallel here to my approach to poetry, too: experimenting with combinations of collected words and turns of phrase to see what they might produce on their own, and following the poem’s suggestions as to what it wants to be. It’s the dynamic nature of watercolor and ink that is its own kind of poetry to me. As with my poems, my paintings are an exploration of associative leaps. Light and shadow replace sound and silence to reveal landscapes of the mind that have called themselves into being.”

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