Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Open House TOMORROW!

Deck the WALLS with attainable art...

Just a reminder that NKG's Holiday Open House happens tomorrow afternoon, December 1, 2007 from 4-7pm. Come celebrate the holiday season with us! The Third Annual Attainable Art Show features a variety of artwork under $1500 available for purchase, from both local and international artists. Holiday goodies and drinks will be served. See you all tomorrow!


Nevin Kelly Gallery
1517 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

T: 202.232.3464
F: 202.232.3465

METRO: Dupont Circle (red line) and U Street/Cardozzo (green line).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Artist Feature 5: Joan Belmar

Pictured Above: (left) Duplex and Concentric Green, 2007, mixed media on plywood, 21 x 25 in and (right) Duplex I, 2007, mixed media on plywood, 21 x 25 in

This week's Artist Feature (posted earlier than usual, due to the Thanksgiving Holiday), takes a closer look at Chilean-born, Washington DC based collage artist Joan (pronounced "zhoh-AHN") Belmar. Belmar’s work might be unfamiliar to some NKG visitors, as he does not yet have a page on our website, but his work is certainly not to be overlooked. He started out with paintings, but in recent years has moved towards abstract collage. Though one might see echoes of OP Art and minimalist qualities in his body of work, Belmar's mixed media collages are one-of-a-kind. They are a reflection of the inner workings of his spirit, and do not imitate the work of anyone else: he is his own person, with a unique voice.

Belmar places strips of colored mylar placed under the glass of a plywood frame, fashioned into curvilinear lines of various shapes and sizes; some slightly more representational than others. There are usually no more than 4 hues represented simultaneously. The compositions resemble the 3-dimensional depictions of the human body sometimes found in modern science textbooks. His use of modern materials, such as plastic, acetate, mylar and glass, creates optical illusions. Viewing these works allows one's curiosity to leap out, to question the purpose of his art and to be able to reach in and physically feel the materials in order to fully grasp the concept of each collage. There is also a deep sense of nostalgia connected to Belmar's collages that urge the viewers to take a deeper look at their own lives in light of his art. The somewhat uncomfortable, tingly sensation never dies, giving the works an air of mystery.

One current work, strongly influenced by Anish Kapoor's sculpture at the Hirshhorn of a bisected egg painted blue, tests our eyes and our ability to perceive the things around us. His constant exploration of circles (specifically with mandalas) helps us realize the importance of constantly accessing deeper into the levels consciousness. The idea reminds us that life is not perfect, and that we as humans are all in this together. Belmar creates worlds in his art where some things are clear, others translucent and others ambiguous. His interpretation is that these differences in clarity make life's journey more interesting.

Prior to moving to the United States in 1999, Belmar lived and experienced what he calls "multiple lives" in both Spain and his native Chile. His response to the events of his life are reflected in his artwork, which he describes using words such as "alienation" and "disconnectedness". Through his daring concentric collages, Belmar succeeds not only in examining critical social structures, but in reflecting the psychology of those who struggle within them, including, himself. His work reads like an autobiography, making himself completely vulnerable to the masses and allowing us to respond in light of our own life experiences. This is what the circle of life is all about.

Three of Joan Belmar's works (including the two pictured in this entry) will be on display AND for sale at our Third Annual Attainable Art show. Please join us for our open house on December 1, 2007 from 4-7pm. Till next week, I hope you ALL have a happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Artist Feature 4: Sondra Arkin

Pictured Above: Orange Tide, triptych, 2006, encaustic on dibond, each panel 32 x 32 in.

For over 25 years, Sondra Arkin has transformed whatever space was available to her at that given point in time (spare bedroom, dining room or basement) into a haven for creative expression. Although art-making was always in her blood throughout the course of her life, it wasn't until 2001 that Sondra took a risk and quit her day job in marketing to pursue art full-time. This huge leap of faith resulted in a myriad of awards, features in newspapers such as The Washington Post, participation in both group/solo shows all over the mid-Atlantic region and most recently, working as a project curator on behalf of the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities on the new City Hall Art Collection @t the John A. Wilson Building downtown. Sondra's colorful, abstract, mixed media canvases, which rival those of Mark Rothko, and imaginative box-construction works have been widely received by local and national audiences alike. She is also a frequent exhibitor at our gallery and will be featured in the Third Annual Attainable Art Show, opening November 24th.

What strikes me the most about Sondra Arkin's work is her ability to create art that is both purposeful and powerful. No matter the size, material used or color combinations (only warm or cool colors, a combination of the two, a more monochromatic palate), Sondra's work never ceases to create a lasting impression for all who come into contact with it. It is not abstract for the sake of being non-representational, but abstract to evoke every little emotion that is hiding behind our imperfect, human façade. There is a distinct type of [positive] energy in her work that forces the viewer to pause, observe and think beyond what is physically represented on the canvas. Furthermore, Sondra's free style of painting caters to just about anyone: the hip, young art school student to children learning their colors for the first time, spiritual soul-seekers and even to those in the professional world who value high aesthetics.

In recent years, Sondra Arkin's unique
encaustic (otherwise known as "hot wax painting", which uses heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added -- dates back to 100-300 AD) technique has led the artist to break free from the picture plane approach and make paintings that take on a more sculptural feel. Now, her compositions are not only conceptual and vibrant, but also boast a soft, playfulness of colors that echoes a dichotomy of the combination of diverse materials. She also extends her experimentation of focusing simply on individual work with the inclusion of diptypchs, triptypchs and polytptychs, thereby proding the viewers to look at these pieces as a whole and enhance the conversations further.

Those who attended the Color: Field Tests show back in April/May of this year may remember Sondra's involvement to help promote the citywide Color Field Remix -- a movement from the 1960s that emerged after Abstract Expressionism and is widely characterized by abstract canvases painted with large areas of solid colors. Her entire oeuvre, be it a mixed media collage/box of found objects or a spiritual landscape of vibrant layers of warm colors, has the power to communicate a positive message to the masses: that life, as we know it, is comprised of layers, both good and bad. We as humans will experience both highs and lows in this journey called life, but these feelings are necessary as we stretch, evolve and grow.

Ultimately, Sondra hopes that what surfaces out of these layers of influence is something of value and beauty. By encouraging her viewers to take an introspective approach while confronted with her artwork, Sondra desires that a tangible layer will then be added to our respective lives, which will hopefully enrich it all the more.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sneak Peek!

Are you ready for the crazy season of holiday shopping... errr, ummm, I mean.... gallery hopping? How about some: Jingle Bell Rock? Well, look no further as NKG is here to assist you with your never-ending list of gifts to buy this holiday season. Opening November 24, 2007... NKG welcomes the Third Annual Attainable Art Show: Works Under $1500. Just in time for the holidays, works by various artists such as Sondra Arkin, Lukasz Huculak, Mark Parascandola, Joan Belmar, Mary Chiaramonte, Ellyn Weiss and Ming Yi Sung Zaleski (and many more!) will be exhibited and sold. Finally, affordable art that make the PERFECT holiday gifts.

Please join us:
Holiday Open House
| Saturday December 1st | 4 to 7pm

More details to come... so stay tuned!

Artist Feature 3: Michal Zaborowski


Michal Zaborowski's H2O show closes this Sunday, November 11th! That means you still have time to come down and see it. We are open until 8pm both tomorrow and closing day, so please stop in and peruse if you haven't already done so (or, if you want to come again). This show was definitely a crowd-pleaser, on many levels. Thank you for your continued support.


Since the Zaborowski show is drawing to a close, I thought it would be interesting to open the mic. up to our visitors and share what their various instinctive responses to the exhibition were. These responses were recorded during the course of this exhibition, and a diverse demographic of age and gender was attempted. As suspected, some constructive criticism was given despite the popularity of Zaborowski's works, but all in all, people felt that he is an amazing figure painter and definitely a post-modern Impressionist! Let's see what our fellow Washingtonians had to say:

[ N O T E :: responses were paraphrased for this blog entry]

"Seeing representative painting in this gallery is SO refreshing. The last few years, all NKG had were abstract artists - which I love - but not as much as the old stuff. It reminds me that there is good contemporary art out there."
Female, Local Neighbor, 60s

"I identify with the girl wearing the turquoise earring. She casually dries herself after a bath, with no shame of her nudity at all. It's better than Pierre Bonnard's figures that are so confusing and the colors kind of get lost when mixed together. At least this one is well-defined. I think this is a good reminder for us Americans who are too paranoid about our physical imperfections to even consider such a thing. Women of all shapes and sizes are gorgeous, and this painting echoes that very well."
Female, Washington DC resident, 40s

"These women are so well-dressed, even the woman delivering the water. What is it about our modern American culture that makes people dress so sloppy? There is definitely a European quality in these works - that you never find in America. It's absolutely delightful."
Male, Local Neighbor, 70s

"This show is not so good; actually, its quite boring. I mean, Zaborowski is a great painter, but I think these paintings are too academic. They remind me of the figures we had to copy during those gruesome years in art school. These paintings look like figures painted to perfection. I would like to see him go outside of his comfort zone and do something more abstract. His strongest painting, however, is Fishermen."
Bulgarian Artist, Female, Washington DC resident, 30s

"I can't stand the lack of a good and defined background in these works. It's like they are purposely mushed all together. He needs to make it more 3-dimensional. I preferred the work/background Zaborowski had in his 'Before and After the Dinner Party' exhibition."
Couple, Washington DC residents, 50s


Please feel free to add your own responses to these various comments given by our fellow visitors. Join me next week for proper Artist Feature on one of NKG's favorite artists. Buon weekend!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Artist Feature 2: Michal Zaborowski

Welcome back! Join us this week as we look at yet another one of Zaborowski's well-loved pieces, Morning Fishing, currently on view through Nov. 11th in our H20 exhibition. Please stop by if you haven't already done so. As always, comments are welcome and greatly appreciated.

Morning Fishing, Oil on Canvas, 36'' x 63'', 2007


"Sadness flies on the wings of the morning and out of the heart of darkness comes the light."

-- Jean Giraudoux

This painting resembles a [candid] photograph that might have been taken looking down from the docks, right before the break of dawn. It boasts a simplified, naturalistic color palate and an overall, flat and asymmetrical composition. A boy, no older than the age of 13, stands barefoot on the edge of his boat and peers down into the cool, crystalline waters - looking for the first signs of the day's catch.
The outside temperature is without a doubt warm, as indicated by the boy's attire. In one hand, he holds an empty glass jar of what appears to be bait. A fishing line is firmly grasped by his other hand, prepared for anything that might come his way. The look on his face is a quizzical one, as there is no sign of life in the waters at all. The positioning of his foot, the left one further on the edge than the right, indicates that something is about to happen, perhaps a foreshadowing of events to come?

Zaborowski's subdued palate and simplistic composition invites us to take a deeper look at this painting, rather than skimming it over as yet another "pretty picture" that sells for more than the normal asking price of works NKG offers. Although the subject matter is safe and it is obvious that the artist is classically trained (and excelled in this training), it is all too easy to miss the air of mystery that lingers in every one of his paintings. Unlike some of his other works, water is ever present and dominates a large portion of the canvas. The overall composition is cropped, and one can only surmise who/what might have been in the two boats on the upper right-hand side. The shadows are strong, and the positioning of the boy is also very alluring. What could his next action possibly be? To keep peering over the still, early morning waters, to take the plunge and jump into his catches' terrain OR possibly, (as the quote above suggests) to let the sadness that is weighing him down dissipate into the first breath of morning...

Whatever the case may be, it is evident that Zaborowski has once again excelled in the rendering of a simple subject which, in turn, can also be sublimely beautiful. In a world where we are bombarded by images thanks to the digital revolution, it is comforting to have a painting such as Morning Fishing remind us of the simple things in life; perhaps, even rejoice in the mystery of living as mortal beings!
As French Symbolist painter Émile Bernard so vividly puts it:

“Everything that is superfluous in a spectacle is covering it with reality and occupying our eyes instead of our mind. You have to simplify the spectacle in order to make some sense of it. You have, in a way, to draw its plan.”

Less is indeed, exceedingly MORE.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Michal Zaborowski's front cover painting, After the Race [oil on canvas, 59''x32'', 2007] has been sold! Congratulations to the lucky buyers! But don't worry, there are still 11 Zaborowski paintings left to be sold from now until the end of the show. Spread the word...