Written by Michael Ashman
Commanding the paintbrush is like commanding a ship, artists are in control of the direction of their art. For solo artists, it can feel harder to do everything by themselves without the help of their friends. Painting is artist Paul Brogden’s life. But, when a car accident left him without the use of his fingers and his hands, Paul had to overcome his disability to become a master of a new art style. “Master of My Own Ship” is a new work by Paul currently on display at Thumbprint Gallery’s exhibition titled “Solus Voices.” The painting demonstrates the feeling of having to manage everything by yourself. With his simple stylized approach to painting, he paints a scene easy enough to understand, but the Viking caricature’s expression does not match his plight.
The iron-horned helmeted and grey bearded Viking in this painting is finding it harder to concentrate while at sea. Although his ship is fine and floating, he is wounded by an unknown enemy’s attack. Three feather-tipped arrows stick from his back, but they do not cause him to shed blood. He seems to be more concerned with his compass than his attackers. His droopy eyes concentrate on the arrow of the compass with an expression of sincere effort. His boat is heading the right way as the dragon head of the ship is pointing in the direction of the compass.
Paul’s little Viking character is an oddly shaped fellow like some of his other figures at the show. The odd thing about his rounded body is that it is uninterrupted by any arms or legs. In another painting next to this one, “Silent Sam,” Paul paints the same rounded face and body and almost looks like a humanized finger puppet. He is known to paint worn out or sad faces that are almost cute in their seeming hopeless state and his characters tend to end up in ironic twists of fate. This kind of twisted tale is told by the Viking’s willingness to venture onwards despite being grievously wounded. Even in this perilous journey, the Viking does not even express feeling even the slightest amount pain.
This piece and a variety of other works by Brogden are currently on display at Thumbprint Gallery which is located at 920 Kline St. New artworks by Brian Dombrowsky and Pamela Jaeger are also on display in the gallery. The “Solus Voices” show runs until March 3 and the gallery is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm. If you do not get a chance to see the exhibition in the gallery, you will also be able to check out this piece and other Brogden works at the upcoming VIXEN fashion event on March 27 in Little Italy.
Written by Michael Ashman
Tea parties have definitely had their share of fantastical stories. The Mad Hatter and his crazy tea party in “Alice in Wonderland” and Mary Poppins’ implausible tea party on the ceiling are two examples of whimsical parties that could never happen in real life. Adding to fantastical nature of tea parties, “Tea for Two” by Pamela Jaeger, a collaboration with Celene Petrulak, is about two wildly-stylish ladies enjoying tea with their cats in an odd and dreamy setting. Perhaps it is a dream, as peculiar elements in this artwork add to its wondrous nature.
“Tea for Two” looks like a normal tea party, but where exactly is it? The night adds mystery to the location of the two ladies seated with their cute cats. The dark sky comes forth with wavy borders around a pitch black background. All we can see is their immediate surroundings with pink, fuzzy bushes in the background. Those bushes are nothing like anything found in the real world, except for maybe ones found in the world of Dr. Seuss. The strange outdoor setting with nothing but the moon and the stars feels like an eerie place for a tea party, but the ladies look to be good friends and enjoy their tea as if it were any other night.
The ladies themselves have odd, stylish characteristics about them. The lady on the left in purple has wild hair and so does the lady on the right. Their hair unnaturally floats up and intertwines together as it wisps up and away. Nothing is odd about their fashionable clothing style, but the interesting choice to wear the cats around their necks adds a bit of humor and weirdness to the art piece. They also go along with their owners’ style. The grey cat, around the lady on the left, shares similar flowing lines of fur with that of the ladies flowing pink hair. Similarly with the black cat around the lady on the right, its color matches the lady’s black-striped dress. The cats do not seem to mind that they are a part of the ladies’ fashion—the sleepy look on the grey cat says it all.
Pamela and Celene both painted a part of this artwork. The table is divided by each artist, Pamela painted the lady and cat on the left side, while Celene painted the lady and cats on the right side. Looking closely at the yellow trim on the table, one can find the names of each artist on their respected side. The background is composed of a starry night by Celene and pink bushes by Pamela. There is definitely a harmonic intertwining of the two sides where their hair meets in the middle—just above the centrally placed moon. The cats and their owners also represent another harmony between humans and nature. The perfect balance between these two artists speaks true of the title of the painting.
“Tea for Two” by Pamela Jaeger, with Celene Petrulak, is a tea party for dreamers. Its surreal setting and relaxing atmosphere would be great for a dream shared by two friends. It is on view at Thumbprint Gallery as a part of the “Solus Voices” group art show along with other artworks by Brian Dombrowsky and Paul Brogden. Thumbprint Gallery is open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm, and the show runs until March 3.
Written by Michael Ashman
One way to disconnect from technology is to go camping out in the wilderness. But, in Brian Dombrowsky’s newest work, “Interface,” technology happens to already be in the forest, as a wandering bear stumbles upon a solitary laptop. This strange event of a bear staring into the glow of the screen is a moment captured by Dombrowsky that is both calm and surreal. Like many of his other works, this work sets up a little scene open to interpretation by the viewers. Often one can find a familiar story in real life from the one Dombrowsky paints. “Interface” invites the viewer to share in the moment where both nature and technology awkwardly meet for the first time.
The story of bear meets computer is indeed a bizarre one. Under the cloudy night sky a roaming brown bear happens upon a laptop setup on a stump. Somehow the computer is powered on and displays a pleasant daytime forest. Intrigued by the scene within the tiny window of the computer screen, the bear cautiously draws near. The conclusion to the story is the picture of the bear staring calmly into the simulated daytime forest environment, while the bear is actually surrounded by a real forest at night. Likewise, we are also tied to our computers looking at videos and pictures of other locations we might like to go to, while physically situated in another location.
Dombrowsky’s fine brushstrokes make the nighttime scene seem very naturalistic. He paints subtle rays of moonlight shining through transparent clouds. He adds more depth to the painting by adding fine brushstrokes to the trees, grass and bear fur. All these minor details give the painting a more naturalistic look and they make the unreal scene more believable.
“Interface” by Brian Dombrowsky is one of several of his surreal compositions of animals and man-made objects featured at Thumbprint Gallery’s “Solus Voices” group show. Two other local artists, Paul Brogden and Pamela Jaeger, are featured alongside Dombrowsky. Thumbprint Gallery is located on 920 Kline St., La Jolla. The “Solus Voices” show runs until March 3 and the gallery is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.