I am not an art expert. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I would even refer to myself as an art beginner. Still, I do enjoy art and museums, which made attending the opening reception of the Andrew Leventis and Ally Sulpy Galleries a wonderful experience. Leventis and Sulpy are both new faculty here at UNC Charlotte, however, they have completely different styles and messages in their art.
Leventis’ exhibition is entitled “Recollections,” which references his process of making the art. First, he chooses a film still to paint which he then photographs off of a screen. This helps him create distortion in the image. He then transfers the image to linen via oil paint. Leventis is specifically interested in how humans define themselves by the objects they surround themselves with. Many of his paintings showcase this, featuring phones, playing cards and candles.
Probably due to his process, all of Leventis’ work takes on a photographic quality. For some of them, it was hard for me to believe they were actually paintings. The paintings also play with light, many in the shadows or at dawn or dusk. Personal favorites of mine were “Kansas Field,” which features a woman chopping firewood in the morning and “Sarcophagus Fly,” which focuses on a female hiker in the mountains.
Sulpy’s exhibition features three different (but connected) series of her work, all in bright color and made in a multimedia format. It’s a stark contrast to Leventis’ much more traditional, still life inspired work on the first floor. The first, and main focal point, of her collections is entitled “Store Facades.” Inspired by abandoned small town business districts, it seeks to reimagine old store fronts as they once were. However, since Sulpy never lived in this time period, the reality she creates in her work is a blend of history and her imagination.
My favorite of her three collections is entitled “Bland Intruders,” though she also refers to it as her fern series. According to Sulpy, the purpose of ferns is to be ignored and looked over. You don’t see successful ferns. In this series, the hidden ferns become the focus and main idea of the artwork. Her third series, “Beefcakes,” recreates men’s “muscle” magazines of the 60’s and 70’s. However, these paintings also contain her hidden ferns, representing the hidden homosexual undertones the magazines often had.
Sulpy’s multimedia work often contains a variety of elements. I noticed everything from wood paneling to vintage ads to sale stickers. Quite a few had working lights and signs. Much of the art was presented with vivid colored paper on the walls as background. Her works “Old Car” and “Closed” were particularly memorable to me. “Old Car,” a part of the fern series, showcases a vintage car museum. “Closed,” from “Store Facades,” features a young African American girl in three different poses.
Even if you haven’t been to an art exhibition or museum before, the Leventis and Sulpy galleries are worth checking out. The different styles of the two artists guarantee they’ll be something of interest for everyone. The exhibitions run through Jan 27 in the Rowe Galleries.