Brian Marki, an established Portland, Ore., art dealer, has opened a second gallery here in Palm Springs.
The gallery, which opened its doors on March 22, is open and welcoming. Large and small areas flow together within the gallery, creating opportunities to show multiple artists—or showcase just one particular artist. Marki’s stable includes both representational and non-representational artists, plus a few whose art lives in that world in between.
Marki Gallery’s inaugural show, slated to be on display through April 30, presents about 10 artists, most working with either oils or acrylics.
Jason Bradbury’s paintings greet visitors as they enter the gallery—and a wonderful greeting it is. The artist works with a restricted palette, and his choice of highly saturated and vibrant colors is made all the more striking because he often paints his backgrounds in highly saturated and vibrant colors, too. The artist’s exacting brushstrokes—produced in all likelihood with a very narrow and fine-tipped paintbrush—leave little room for error. One visitor commented, “I can’t imagine how many brushstrokes he uses to create any one picture, especially the large ones.” Bradbury’s pictures in the gallery are as large as 40 by 55 inches.
Bradbury’s short lines of color result in unique and relatively complex nature-based and organic forms. “The Falling” (above) looks like a vibrant weeping willow against a mostly solid backdrop. To create the gracefully hanging branches, the artist uses short brushstrokes in shades of electric orange and red. The background, painted in a highly contrasting light purplish-gray, creates an almost frenetic, yet inviting, optical experience.
“The Passer By” creates an underwater experience. Bradbury applies his unique brushwork style to produce a deep marine blue backdrop for what might be interpreted as a highly contorted and stylized ocean creature. The subject, presented in shades of ocher and gold, is bordered by dark browns. The contrast between the dark blue background and a golden-ocher subject enhances the depth of field. The form seems to descend deep into the sea, and hangs in front of the background. The viewer meets it, up close.
In this show, Gordon Marshall lives in the previously described world in between. He uses “strata,” as he calls them, to define his space. While the great Richard Diebenkorn, whose works recently starred in a show at the Palm Springs Museum of Art, had a tendency to primarily employ horizontal striations, Marshall uses vertical striations, and therefore makes each vertical canvas appear longer.
At first, the artist’s vertical images seem rather ho-hum. However, when the viewer steps away from the canvases, the seemingly unstructured lines become the outlines of elongated and somewhat distorted human forms in a profile or frontal pose. Depending upon the painting, at least one figure—usually with a torso and/or legs—emerges. The transformation prompts a second look.
Marshall’s background colors are pale, muted and lightly textured. Because his bodies are primarily outlined, the background color also serves as the figure’s skin.
There are at least the torsos and legs of two figures in “Passages.” Against a grainy light purplish grey background, the artist creates his outlined figures in blue-black paint. The greater number of brushstrokes on the bottom third of the canvas suggests that Marshall invested considerable thought into the best way to present these bodies. On this canvas, Marshall displays how he can make the background color and texture part of the figure itself.
With “Yesterday’s Child,” the artist presents his figure from the chest to the bottom of the ankles. A somewhat angled profile creates a sense of flow. He retains the textural feel found in his other paintings; what is different here is his treatment of the figure. While Marshall’s background is painted a light greenish-yellow, the outline and figure is painted in much darker shades of the same colors.
Norah Borden’s acrylics on panel—coated with a high gloss resin—seem ethereal. Clearly, the earth and ocean are her inspiration.
In “Metamorphic Rock,” Borden creates two coral reef-like formations: One is in dark gray-blacks, with the other in deep ebony. By painting the coral forms against a hard white and very light gray background, and applying the high gloss resin, the coral forms are pushed forward to the front of the panel. Both “reefs” are painted left of center. This clearly intentional imbalance produces a needed tension.
Borden produces a tremendous sense of motion with her painting “The Eleutheras.” The combination of her broad brush strokes and a palette consisting of blue-whites and aquas result in an experience of watching the ocean: Waves crash against each other, with foamy mists, roiling water and swirling eddies.
Sandro Negri is probably the best-known artist whose works are in the show. Unfortunately, those works just don’t fit.
Negri’s subject matters vary tremendously. His paintings include landscapes, farm workers, cityscapes, etc. This is in sharp contrast to the other artists, whose works seem be focused in the present and reflect their personal vision and aesthetic. The only consistency across Negri’s paintings is his process: He uses strong dramatic colors and a thick brushwork.
Other show artists include Christopher Perry, Miroslav Lovric, Eric Bowman and Chuck Sites.
Brian Marki Fine Art is located at 170 E. Arenas Road, in Palm Springs. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. For more information, call 760-327-5777, or visit www.brianmarki.com. Victor S. Barocas is a photographer, author and educator/business coach. Based in Cathedral City he can be reached at Victor@VictorsVisions.com.