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Bubbles Meet the Metal - Article about Rose Ellis Exhibit
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The 4th Element — Bubbles Meet the Metal

Story - Liam on Cherry  |  Photography - Morgan Tinney

Richard App practices juxtaposition in his Cherry Street Gallery, achieving alchemy in the pairing of Roli Mancera and Rosemary Ellis for the 4th Element Show. Richard App Gallery has three chambers. In the western space, he mounts periodic shows placing the spotlight on artists he represents. App has dedicated the space to a single artist before, lately the Detroit photographs of Ryan Spencer Reed, a singularity which makes an endorsement of career and character. The group shows speak as highly of the curated artists, making a powerful statement. In the group shows, the works become elements for curatorial alchemy.

App has a penchant for juxtaposition, placing two or more artistic forces side by side, generating contrasts and comparisons to drive a dialogue and engage viewers. For example, in May of 2011, he collaborated with journalist and author Tommy Allen to present the well received Pop! – Death Wins show, a juxtaposition of curatorial vision. The show placed the work of David Dodde and Mikey Welsh at loggerheads, their art works facing one another across the space. The show also showcased the work of Michele Bosak, Kevin Buist and Keemo, serving as catalysts for an aesthetic reaction. In September 2011, he matched Chris Protas, who paints inspired by Mercedes Matter of the New York School of Art and Sculpture, with Mikey Welsh, whose style of painting was an anguished variant of American Art Brut. App has perfected his approach of juxtaposition this May in his blending of the work of Roli Mancera and Rosemary Ellis. He has placed the sculptures of Mancera and the paintings of Rosemary Ellis in virtual alternation, creating a harmony that must be described as transcendent.

Roli Mancera and Rosemary Ellis could be described as two people who have more contrasts than comparisons between them. However, as residents of the metropolis of Grand Rapids, the two have had their careers transformed by the influence of ArtPrize, where the two have exhibited with success. One day, Ellis visited the Grand Rapid’s Children Museum and viewed the mosaic mural “Imagine That” by Tracy Van Duinen. Where one person might see irregularly shaped tesserae of ceramic, Ellis saw bubbles. By ArtPrize 2011, Ellis had developed this inspiration into a painting of bubbles. Entitled Triple Bubble, one large bubble encompassed two smaller bubbles. Ellis has continued the series for ArtPrize 2012, presenting a study of bubbles called Fractured Faces, which enters metaphysical territory, reflecting and refracting reality like the mythic, beaded tears of Shiva.

Trained at the University of Michigan, Ellis paints in the classical style and also paints botanical scenes that remind one of the British age of discovery, images that could be printed by copper plate. The bubble series presents a new phase in Ellis’s artistic development, which go beyond M. C. Escher, who captured reflections in his self-portraits in spheres. Ellis does capture the bubble blower and photographer in one of her sphere paintings; however, the series is a vision quest to explore the spectrum of bubble phenomena. One anticipates a physics professor purchasing these bubble paintings to study what Ellis has intuitively documented with her vision.

In one of the coincidences that become common when millions arrive in a city during a fall event dedicated to art exhibition, Rosemary Ellis followed her visit to Duinen’s “Imagine That” with dinner at Little Mexico Cafe and beheld the recently executed murals of Roli Mancera, inspired by Mayan and Aztec history. Born northwest of Mexico City in Celaya, Mexico, Roli Mancera has become an elder of the Grand Rapids Latin community, a man about to begin his thirties. Recently, in February 2012, the Little Mexico Cafe on Plainfield celebrated two years in operations after returning to business, rebuilding after a fire. On a program with university professors who guide the region’s Latin community, Mancera discussed the Aztec and Mayan history he researched in preparation of the murals. His art consistently has embodied moral values, such as when he addressed the role of the Latin father, any father, in his work, “The Experience of My Life”, celebrating his wife’s recent pregnancy with statues of her progressing gestation. This work, celebrating the watchful father amazed by the miracle of life, exhibited at ArtPrize 2011 at DeVos Place, on the Sky-Walk.

Mancera sculpts his 4th Element constructions from simple strips of metal, sliced by fire hot enough to melt steel and polished, building vertical compositions, compositions that suggest the cascades of a mountain waterfall. This series manifested itself during the Co- Inspiration Exhibition organized by Square Peg Events for Summer 2011 at the Holland Area Arts Council. While that show was completing, Mancera was already installing his next sculptures at the Holland space, joining twelve Latin artists of Michigan in a show titled Herencia, or in English, Heritage.

Mancera has learned that water is the 4th Element of ancient Mexican culture. Mancera’s sculptures shimmer in the sunlight, appearing to flow like water, halted in progress, about to flow again. The bubble paintings of Rosemary Ellis depict the brief tensegrity of soap and water, airborne, creating an optical spectacle, ambient sunlight sent on an altered path. The 4th Element influences a second element, the element of light. The quality of the sunlight in Richard App’s spaces is excellent; Rosemary Ellis often paints in the window. The angular sculptures of Mancera compliment the round orbs of Ellis in an infinity of ways. A physicist could point out the underlying hexagons of Ellis’ soap bubbles.

The 4th Element show will be on display until June 12th, 2012. App has placed the work of Sheryl Budnik and Nancy Yerkes on display in his eastern space, which means his mind has already gone to work on their artistic chemistry.

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