Helen Steele, In Search of Something

Helen Steele, In Search of Something, courtesy American Art Gallery

If you are lucky enough to stroll the storybook streets of Carmel by the Sea, smelling the saltfresh air with the taste of anticipation on your tongue, and just happen to stumble into a dimcozy canvas-crowded gallery – this is what you will find. A bit of treasure poking out from behind the corner.

You were not looking for it, but it was looking for you.

The yearning in this figure strikes me like a lighthouse – silent searching. She sends out energy, a broad light beam, and it spots me. Perhaps feeling what she is feeling. Like there is so much to know, to experience in life. I throw out a net, gather it up, sort through the seashells and bones to make sense of it. To understand what must be understood. To buy ambiguity a second cup of coffee.

An “answer” caught in a cloudswirl of information, shot through with rainbow of emotion. Saffron hope glows in the upper right corner.

I want her to find what she is looking for – to find the right question to ask. Surely it’s inside her, so she reaches inward. Maybe it’s right in front of her eyes and if she extends her hand she will touch it. Feel its weight, round and smooth, and slide it in her pocket – smiling.

Pickup Artist

America Martin, By the Sea, 2012, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, Texas

America Martin, By the Sea, 2012, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, Texas

Her eyes caught mine and I stopped, mid-step on the crowded staircase at Wally Workman.  It was love at first sight when I didn’t believe in love at first sight. An entrancing  portrait by America Martin. With the kind of lines that make you want to pick it up and take it home. And that’s exactly what I did.

Her eyes turned my head. Like the frank, appraising eyes of this just ravished bather. She turns toward you with an open gaze, hand propping a tilted head.

And curves. Oh Lord, does she have ’em. Double, double-take curves. This woman’s body moves across the canvas like sand dunes undulating, hips rolling before they touch the sea. Pretty peaks and delirious-deep valleys.

Color is a flirt here. At times, filling out the space between lines, emphasizing the form, stepping into the outline. At other times, color dances unrestrained by line. Now, a spontaneous moving  into background, now a free-shift into foreground. Teasing out the feel of the piece. Creating  a slip of ocean or angel-winged reeds.

This work makes you believe in possibility. You can have contentment and yes, maybe even mercurial joy. She calls out your hope, (even if kicking and screaming) and says,” look, it’s in you.” And that’s the seduction of a true pick up artist, my friends. Come and pick up a beauty before last call.