Putnam builds animal forms with cast off blankets, shirts, fake fur, rags, thread, plastic garbage bags, leather scraps and glue. These sculptures evoke playful, whimsical characters found in children’s books, but his characters are something different: they are physically and psychologically vulnerable and seem like overgrown stuffed toys or imaginary friends—misfits whose demeanors both invite and possibly repel. Like mutant craft projects gone awry, their surfaces suggest that the skins of these beings have been torn away, exposing their soft insides.
Putnam’s drawings, too, create images that carry associations with simplicity, innocence and play, but as if experienced in a fevered dream. In these works, cartoon heads drift, collide and overlap in space. These orphaned characters in search of a body attempt to reassemble them selves into a larger whole—but never quite manage the feat.
In both his sculptures and drawings, Putnam explores the murky spaces intersecting empathy, fear, intimacy, humor, the desire to touch or connect and the impulse to back away. Through these works, he hopes to expose a complex and contradictory human presence that mirrors our own vulnerability.
Kara Maria works in painting and mixed media and this will be her first time exhibiting at Gail Severn Gallery. Her work reflects political topics—feminism, war, and the environment. She borrows from the broad vocabulary of contemporary painting; blending geometric shapes, vivid hues, and abstract marks, with representational elements. Her recent work features miniature portraits of disappearing animals, focusing attention on the alarming rate of extinction now being caused by human activity.
Maria received her BA and MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States at venues including the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno; the Cantor Center at Stanford University; the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas; the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; and the Katonah Museum of Art in New York; among many others.
Maria’s work has garnered critical attention in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Art in America. Maria has been awarded artist residencies and she has been a recipient of many awards and honors.
This will be her first time exhibiting at Gail Severn Gallery. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the San Jose Museum of Art, the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, the di Rosa in Napa, and Mills College Art Museum in Oakland, among others.
Ed Musante captures the soul of the solitary animal. His primary subject is the bird, which he paints with exquisite detail. They are painted on cigar boxes and cigar box lids that refer to another time and place.
Often Musante’s subjects are floating in an undefined space or on a field of color. Interested in surface and texture, his works offer depth and beautifully painted surfaces. His manner of isolating his subjects, be they animals, birds or people, is reminiscent of Morris Graves’ approach to making the subject an icon.
Ed Musante’s paintings are coveted by many collections including the Detroit Zoo, Microsoft, Washington State Arts Commission and many private collections.
This body of work explores the object-quality of books and my long-time interest in the interplay of text and image. In some of these artworks, I’ve referenced my fascination with incunabula, those ancient manuscripts with mysterious content and undecipherable script upon their worn pages. Palimpsests too are part of the aesthetic associations and also the development the work. As the imagery progresses, surface additions and subtractions contribute layers where vestiges of earlier aspects are left deliberately visible. This stratum involves additions of text, asemic scrawls, pairings of realism and abstraction, and diagrammatic drawings with some aspects seen only with close inspection. These many layers of imagery offer a broad system of visual and symbolic information to engage different routes of information gathering and the construction of meaning.
On this theme, the exhibition with its collection of book-related artwork creates the atmosphere of an athenaeum. In Greek culture, this signified a reading room or library, a place where poets read, where science was researched, and the arts and literature considered. Since my artwork often begins with reading, research, and the relationships between art and science, and with poetry being a contemplative source, an athenaeum seems a fitting association for this show and also an invitation for you to enter.
A master of Post-Painterly Abstraction, Gary Komarin has been at the forefront of contemporary art with a bold and colorful style recognized by art collectors worldwide, and applauded by museum curators and art critics alike. While looking at Komarin’s paintings and his works on paper, the viewer is invited to the intimate space where a dialogue is established between painter and painting.
“My paintings proceed without preconception. I paint to find out what it is that I am going to paint. I think of myself as a stagehand who sets up the conditions necessary for drama to unfold. Once a painting has achieved a life of its own, when it speaks back to you as a painter, this is a good place to be. For me, the best paintings are those that paint themselves.”
New York, 2015