• Trophy Art: The Intrinsic Value to Art Curated by Melissa McCaig-Welles and Rodrigo Valles

    The crowd on opening night.
    The crowd on opening night.
    (L-R) Curators Melissa McCaig-Welles and Rodrigo Valles
    (L-R) Curators Melissa McCaig-Welles and Rodrigo Valles

    In today’s contemporary art world, the value of art and talent has been heavily confounded by market value prices and media trends that take away from the authentic experience of appreciating art for its pure aesthetics. But underneath the complex layers of superficiality and trendy business, there is a lot of heart and soul with evocation of true craft that still lives in many closed studios and open exhibitions. One just has to venture further and open their eyes a bit wider to appreciate art that is evolving with real dedication in our contemporary world.

    To counteract the superficial assigned valued to art, Melissa McCaig-Welles and Rodrigo Valles curated, “Trophy Art,” an exhibition intended to showcase artwork that exemplifies artistic talent and devotion to their work. The intention is to present a variety of artists that are both well-known and emerging with fine art or street art background to feature a glimpse into our current art scene.

    The artists presenting their prized and diverse work included: Queen Andrea, Monique Mantell, Carlos Mare, Elle, Dan Witz, Laura Mylott Manning, Rodrigo Valles, Tim Okamura, Alessandra Maria, Kathleen Vance, Zofia Bogusz, Chris Uphues, Jamie Martinez, Sophie Alexia Joly de Lotbiniere, GILF, John Arthur Carr, Vicky Barranguet, David Ortiz, David Hollier, Greg Berg, Katrina del Mar, Nick Kuszyk, Morning Breath, Jerome Lagarrigue, Norbert Waysberg, Chizuru Kaplan and Christian Jaquet.

    When walking through the eclectic exhibition, it is somewhat perplexing to view works with different mediums and sizes that seem to juxtapose each other in both style and context. However, the beauty of seeing art for its execution suspends the viewer to just appreciate the mastery before them. On that notion, Carlos Mare’s heavy metal sculpture with intricate shadow placement exemplifies the concept of contrasts that can cohesively work on the principal of talent.

    (L-R) sculpture by Carlo Mare and photograph by Greg Berg
    (L-R) Sculpture by Carlo Mare next to a photograph by Greg Berg

    Similarly, Zofia Bogusz’s oil painting on wood, “Siren,” illuminates mystery and tenacity displaying a feminine figure with a mask that only reveals her stoic eyes. Zofia’s painting is yet another example of diversity that creates visual representation of each subject and artist’s perceived emotional state. Zofia claims her favorite part on creating is being able to “turn a blank surface into a visual presentation of one’s collective mass of ideas, beliefs and internalized inspirations. The actual process of creating, of laying down the paint with a brush, brings about a sensory satisfaction and along with it a meditative mental state.” This process is ideal in creating a piece that viewers can themselves relate with personal experience or societal explorations.

    Artist Zofia Bogusz
    Artist Zofia Bogusz

    One particular painting, “Trust Your Dopeness,” by Tim Okamura, an artist that loves to marry contrasts in his work demands the viewer’s attention with the portrait of a strong woman that illuminates enigma and empowerment. As an artist that is known for his portrait work, he describes his process based upon a balance that emulates the injection of contemporary iconography, themes and technical exploration. When asked on the juxtaposition of graffiti and fine art, Tim ruminates, “I love texture, I love passages of abstraction, and words and signage, and an indication of some consciousness of history and ‘now’ co-existing at the same time. That’s really what our lives are, I think… a profound balancing act of all this history and the exact moment we are living in.”

    Artist Tim Okamura
    Artist Tim Okamura

    Similarly, in the context of history and artistic expressions, Jerome Lagarrigue’s painting, “The Arrest,” is a profoundly striking painting of a portrait of collision between two human beings. One has to take a step back to study the loosely but intently brushed oil strokes in abstract form that creates a painting displaying police brutality. The image shows an officer in riot head gear slumped over a figure that is being subdued. Jerome, a French artist actually began his series of works titled, “The Tipping Point, in late 2012 based upon a violent protest that took place in France in 2005. Ironically, this particular piece is extremely relevant today in the U.S with recent prevalent cases of police brutality and neglect of authority. In addition to shedding light on issues and on artist responsibility, Jerome affirmed, “I think the role of the artist is to not shy away from any topic he or she wishes to explore. For me it has been documenting uprising and protests. These paintings can be read from multiple entry points, the riot depictions are metaphors, are mirrors of our own internal conflicts, battles, contradictions as human beings.”

    Artist Jerome Lagarrigue
    Artist Jerome Lagarrigue

    Art is about self-expression and the way we “see” each piece is based upon our individual relation to the world. Thus, an exhibition like “Trophy Art,” carries an array of painting that appeals to viewers on different sensory and contextual levels.  It is safe to say that the curator’s intentions match the lineup of artists that share the philosophy of creating work that both internally and externally manifests an intrinsic value to art.

    With good reception, the exhibition will be extended and relocated to Gallery 345 in Harlem (104th and 1st Ave). The show will be up until mid-September with another opening reception on Sept 2, 2015 which will include a performance by Grammy nominated pianist Gustavo Casenave.

    Writing by Upahar Rana

    Photographs by Bincy Stephen and Arte Fuse

    Installation shot
    Installation shot
    Artist Dan Witz
    Artist Dan Witz
    The outside of Azart Gallery on opening night
    The outside of Azart Gallery on opening night

    trophy art show (6)

    trophy art show (5)

    Artist Monique Mantell
    Artist Monique Mantell
    Artist David Hollier
    Artist David Hollier
    (L-R) Melissa McCaig-Welles, Jerome Lagarrigue and Tim Okamura
    (L-R) Melissa McCaig-Welles, Jerome Lagarrigue and Tim Okamura
    Sculpture by Kathleen Vance
    Sculpture by Kathleen Vance
    Artist Jerome Lagarrigue
    Artist Alessandra Maria Peters
    (R) Artist Vicky Barranguet
    (R) Artist Vicky Barranguet
    Artist David Ortiz
    Artist David Ortiz
    A guest at the opening.
    A guest at the opening.

    trophy art show (6)

    Paintings by Arte Fuse's publisher Jamie Martinez
    Paintings by Arte Fuse’s publisher Jamie Martinez. Photo by Richard Alicea.

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    Close up to a piece by Laura Mylott Manning
    Close up to a piece by Laura Mylott Manning
    (L-R) Michelle Griego-Valles with a friend
    (L-R) Michelle Griego-Valles with a friend
    (L) Artist GILF with a friend.
    (L) Artist GILF with a friend.
    Artist Greg Berg
    Artist Greg Berg
    Upahar Rana

    Upahar Rana

    Upahar Rana is a visual artist and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She enjoys creating watercolor work, painting live, and creative writing. www.upaharrana.com .

    1 Comment
    1. Zofia Bogusz regularly exhibits her works. I came to her exhibition, ‘Forbidden Thinking’ (https://www.mutualart.com/Artist/Zofia-Bogusz/B9B991111E170D87/Exhibitions) which was held in Last Rites gallery last year. Paintings of lone women amid bold animals and dramatic landscapes filled the gallery. I like the way she uses the contrast of luminous color and deep black as a way to color the dynamic between individual and the outside world especially natural elements such as water and sunlight.

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