New growth can have inverse catalysts, wildfire for example. Taking its name from the incendiary tool used in forest-maintenance practices of prescribed burns, Driptorch is a weekend art show in Thomasville, Georgia, with a mission to further germinate the town’s vibrant and growing cultural life. For three days in November the second and third floors of the downtown historic Hollybrook Building will be transformed into gallery space featuring five national and international contemporary artists working in the Southeast. Organized by Thomasville-based artist John Gleason, Driptorch is an independent project conceived to coincide with and compliment the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, a time-honored Thomasville tradition that celebrates wildlife and plantation sporting art. The 2014 exhibiting Driptorch artists are Sarah Emerson, Mark Messersmith, Mary Engel, Lilian Garcia-Roig and Marcus Kenney. In diverse ways their works explore landscape and the animal kingdom as point of departure and uniting factor.
Sarah Emerson is an artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her paintings and installations present viewers with highly stylized versions of nature that combine geometric patterns and mythic archetypes to examine contemporary landscape. She uses the camouflage of beautiful colors combined with a deliberate composition to explore themes that reflect on the fragility of life, the futility of earthly pleasures, and the disintegration of our natural landscape.
Mark Messersmith’s work explores themes of spirit and struggle within modern Florida’s natural environment. Drawing inspiration from post-civil war American painterMartin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Heade Martin Johnson Headeto the Pre-Raphaelites, his paintings depict lands and creatures in small isolated natural habitats amid the effects of inevitable forced migration, dislocation and destruction of most of Florida’s once rich and unique flora and fauna. They are colorful narratives where “powerful birds, vigilant panthers, wary gators, blackwater swamps, old cypress trees, still manage to survive in Florida and in my paintings, along with the back road citrus stands, and careening logging trucks.Still, even in 2014, powerful birds, vigilant panthers, wary gators, blackwater swamps, old cypress trees, still manage to survive in Florida and in my paintings, along with the back road citrus stands, and careening logging trucks. powerful birds, vigilant panthers, wary gators, blackwater swamps, old cypress trees, still manage to survive in Florida and in my paintings, along with the back road citrus stands, and careening logging trucks. “
Athens artist, Mary Engel, is fascinated by the diversity of animal archetypes worldwide. In her words, “My sculptures are not meant to represent a single myth, fable or archetype. Interpretation comes from the viewer’s imagination, belief system and personal connections to their ‘herd’, ‘pack’, or ‘cub’. Through my work, I aspire to create whimsical, animated creatures using gesture and ‘movement’ to capture a presence I feel animals possess. My lifelong love for animals and the connection I feel with them inspires me to sculpt. The depth of love given to and received from dogs since I was a little girl is immeasurable. My current pack, Gabrielle and Tinkerbelle make me walk, play and laugh every day.”
Originally from rural Louisiana, Marcus Kenney has lived in Savannah Georgia for the last 15 years. He works in many mediums including collage, sculpture, paint, photography and installation. Consumerism, environmentalism and social injustice are issues frequently explored in his work. Blending humor and the macabre, his 2D and 3D works reveal nature as both beautiful and fierce.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Lilian Garcia-Roig was raised and worked in Texas for 30 years but now lives and works in Tallahassee, Florida. Her latest works feature large-scale on-site painting installations of dense landscapes that overwhelm the viewer’s perceptual senses. Each individual painting is “created over the course of the day in an intense wet-on-wet cumulative manner that underscores the complex nature of trying to capture first-hand the multidimensional and ever-changing experience of being in that specific location.”
Driptorch will run November 21 – 23, 2014 with gallery hours 10 am to 6 pm. The Driptorch entrance will be between the downtown shops “At Home” and “Mary Madison Boutique” at 110 South Broad Street, Thomasville, Georgia. Please join the artists for an opening reception and gallery talk on Saturday morning, November 22 at 10:30 am. Visit www.driptorch.net and https://www.facebook.com/DriptorchThomasville for more information.