Friday, October 26, 2007

Common Ground: Works by Jerry Gates

Common Ground: Works by Jerry Gates
November 3 - December 31, 2007

"Third Thursday" Artist Reception on November 15 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

At Gallery Fifty, we are really excited and proud to present a comprehensive showing of Jerry Gates' work. The show consists of both framed representational and abstract mixed media paintings. Over seventy-five pieces will by on display and available for viewing on-line at

Jerry has been an experimental artist for many years because of his fascination with light and color, surface and texture, subject matter and form. His deep belief in the Jungian premise of a "collective consciousness" has inspired him to create content that will be inwardly understood. His aim has been to take the viewer past the obvious to discover that which lies beyond the surface, with an intangible, but deep understanding of his or her own personal aesthetics.

Jerry holds a Master of Fine Arts degree. He has been an Assistant Professor of Art at Central Michigan University and is currently Adjunct Professor of Art, Northwestern Michigan College.

Artist Statement:
My work, I suspect, is a product of Jungian psychology and familiarity with things past and present. Not unlike the Romantics of the 18th Century, I have attempted to capture both the beautiful and the sublime, something fleeting but still in stasis, something inwardly understood in a universal sense. It is this collective consciousness that I try to tap, a soul tweeking, if you will; this "I think I have been there before" or experienced "this" before.

Someone once said "Art is a lie that enables us to see the truth." When one unearths what is beneath their own aesthetic, they become enlightened to the infinite possibilities of the creative endeavor.

It has been my goal to represent this philosophy by testing my curiosity in different media and subject matter. This has helped me to codify my own existence as silent observer, participant and explorer.

Fiber as inspiration for glass

Alaska artist Tamara Johannes is a multi-media artist who has worked clay, metal, fiber and most recently warm glass. She creates these great handcrafted, kiln-fired, dichroic glass barrettes. They make wonderful gifts of "wearable" art.

Tamera was originally a hot glass beadmaker, but then she began experimenting with the art of fusing glass as a way of combining torch work components into more complex glass jewelry. Using dichroic glass has become one of her trademarks.

Early work in fiber and clay were instrumental in forming a basis for work with glass. Many of her designs have elements of her original quilt work and patterns.

3" barrettes are $24; 4" are $28. We also carry Tamera's earrings and brooches. Come into Gallery Fifty to see our current color/ pattern selection: 800 Cottageview Drive, Suite 50, Traverse City, Michigan 49684.

Leaving our shell behind

The world we live in, even where we have made a mess of it, is full of incredible sights. Tennessee artist Jennifer Adair believes that art should make us pause in our rush to wherever we are supposed to be. "Art should make us remember to be alive right here, right now," she says. "Art should help us see the world we live in."

Jennifer is fascinated by how hard people work in order to make things that look like they were made by something other than a human. "It takes a mollusk to make a nautilus shell. Humans use computers to create fractal images; wind does it with some sand. An agate, a sunset, a butterfly wing: our imperfect copies, whether of manmade stone or canvas and paint, require great effort on our part."

So her glass is about color and light, texture and pattern. And if she really gets it right, an explorer from some other world would wonder, when he looks at her work, what creature had left his shell behind.

Gallery Fifty carries her fused dichroic glass frames and triangle plates. Frames run $42 - $48; Plates are $75 - $95. Call for our current selection: 231-932-0775.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fun and 'folky'

Pennsylvania artist Ed Brownlee creates functional, joyful ceramics often referencing art history, folk art and cartoons. He creates with the collector in mind. "My pieces are ambassadors of enjoyment and individuality," he says.

His ceramics are wheel thrown stoneware and fired to cone 6. Ed formulates his own glazes and overglazes utilizing a “majolica” technique of overglaze decoration, but at a higher temperature. Ed received his BFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1985; MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987.

Gallery Fifty carries Ed's jars, casserole dishes, teapots and plates. We love his double-sided face cups. Contact us for our current selection: 231-932-0775.

Tiles for the nature enthusiast

Ceramic artist Leif Spörck creates these incredible stonewear tiles with themes dear to any northern Michigan resident. Nature, botanicals, fish and wildlife — each with his unique design and glaze color.

Leif's tiles are approximately 5" x 5" and have a hole on the back for hanging. They are for indoor/ outdoor use. Gallery Fifty always has a great selection of his work. They make great "guy gifts" and are popular with collectors.

Spörck Tileart was founded by Leif Spörck. Being the son of accomplished ceramic artists, Leif has had his hands in clay since he was 2 years old. After receiving his pre-law degree from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, Leif decided to pursue his desire to design and produce a line of artistic ceramic tiles that would reflect his love of the natural environment. He decided to design a line of tiles that represent his perceptions of the colorful wildlife, the blue waters, the verdant farms and the various and beautiful locations that surround him.

Rediscovering the old; Creating the new

Tennessee artist Paula Mealka enjoys experimenting with dfferent art elements to create interesting, fun and sometimes functional fused glass work.

Fused glass can be subtle, elegant and often bold in color, shape, texture and design. Her work continuously changes and matures as she discovers new methods and skills. Paula uses many traditional fused glass techniques, but she also loves to make things up as she goes and by doing so, creating something new and wonderful. "Of course, this reckless abandon sometimes leads to disaster," she says. "But more often then not, it adds an interesting touch to my work."

She works with deep in glass (1/2-1 inch), creating pieces with depth and texture. One of the methods Paula incorporates into her work is taking glass to a very high temperature and when it is molten, combing a design through it. She also enjoys weaving glass stringers to construct intricate patterns.

For the artist, fused glass is the perfect medium to rediscover old techniques, create new ones by accident and continue her journey of art and discovery every time she opens the kiln.

Gallery Fifty carries a nice selection of her vases (above) for $95 each. The are approximately 7" tall by 5" round. We also offer her "Therapy" (below) plates for $175 each. They are 12" in diameter. Both designs make excellent gifts!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hand silkscreened for richness and saturation

For the past few years, we've done really well with a hand-silkscreened card line from New York called "Great Arrow." The designs are fresh and original and the quality is amazing. Many of our customers buy the cards as affordable artwork in order to frame!

The process starts with a new card concept from their artists. The designer provides sketches, paintings, digital designs, or even a three-dimensional collage. Great Arrow's in-house design team then prepares the art for the silkscreen process. Their colorist brings the original art to life using a palette of more than 500 colors of ink, including metallic colors and clear varnishes. Next, the design goes to print.

Screenprinting is a stencil technique in which the printer uses a rubber-bladed squeegee to force ink through the mesh of a screen; only the open areas of the mesh allow the ink to pass through. The squeegee process is repeated for each color on each card, with time allowed between each pass for the cards to dry. Great Arrow might be able to make cards faster with automated printing machines, but patience isn't just a virtue — it's also a value. Individual cards run from 2.85 - 3.35 (you can't buy a lousy Hallmark card for that little!)

Hand silkscreen printing is physical work, but it doesn't demand strength as much as feel. An experienced printer can control the pressure on the squeegee better than any machine, allowing us to reproduce the subtleties in an artist's original work. That's why artists love to design for Great Arrow — their cards have a richness and saturation that simply cannot be replicated by standard lithography.

Gallery Fifty always has a nice selection to choose from. Ask about our cards for birthday, anniversary, get well, sympathy, thank you, wedding, baby, or "just because." Our two favorites are above. The monkey card says "You drive me bananas." And the cat card says "You're amazing" inside.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Light the dark corners of your world

Washington state artist Beth Spadafora creates these contemporary and colorful glass nightlights. Many layers of colored glass are cut and assembled, then fused together in a hot kiln resulting in these playfully elegant nightlights that cast an ethereal glow. Light the dark corners of your world with these hip nightlights!

The look she tries to evoke is casual and somewhat organic, a little bit crazy and just plain fun. "I believe in spontaneity both in art and in life," she says. "Although the glass does take a number of steps in the fabrication, the design work is usually quite spontaneous."

All work is made with special glass formulated especially for kiln firing. The process involves cutting, shattering and rearranging layers of colored glass and then firing it in a kiln to melt it all together. This new piece is then cut into the shapes required for nightlights and fired again into final form. The resulting glass is wildly colorful with an intense depth. Abstract images appear to those who take the time to observe.

Each one is approximately 4" x 2.25" and individually packaged in a clear oval box for $35. Gallery Fifty has a great selection. Call 231-932-0775 for more information.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Original paintings as personal adornment

Ananda Khalsa draws inspiration from Asian art, natural forms, and the cool sleekness of metal. Each of her pieces contains an original painting on paper, which is set behind hand ground glass in fine and sterling silver. Much of her work is accented with the highest quality semiprecious stones and/or high karat gold.

Another important influence in Ananda's work is the powerful symbolism behind each of the subjects she chooses to paint. At Gallery Fifty, we're representing her jewelry with the following images...

Bluebird: This little bird is a universal symbol of happiness and the coming of spring.

Crane: The elegant courting dance of the crane has made this graceful bird a symbol of love and romance.

Dragonfly: With its delicate and graceful wings reflecting and refracting light, the Dragonfly represents new light and joyfulness.

Koi Fish: According to a Chinese legend, a Koi was once turned into a dragon after fearlessly climbing a treacherous waterfall, making them symbolic of courage and strength.

Lotus: Sprouting from the murky mud at the bottom of the pond, the lotus rises above the water to create it’s exquisite bloom. This makes it a symbol of purity and enlightenment in many eastern philosophies.

I've admired Ananda's work since before we opened the gallery nearly three years ago. We've been testing the waters with our inventory of "art jewelry" and finally feel ready to take the plunge by bringing her unique pieces in. Our shipment is expected by Thanksgiving 2007. You can preview the selection on our web site:

Selected Works: Five Decades

"Selected Works: Five Decades" is our current exhibition of drawings, paintings and constructions by Michigan artist Joe De Luca. The show is up until October 31, 2007, with an artist reception on Thursday, October 18 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. This is by far the largest show we've installed with upwards of 75 pieces, many very large.

Joe's work can be found in numerous public and private collections. A professor of Art at Western Michigan University for thirty years, he has consistently exhibited in solo and group shows, garnering numerous awards and reviews in national publications.

Artist Statment:

My work is a microcosm of the landscape and deals with my emotional and intuitive responses to my environment. I am fascinated by textured, weathered and time-worn objects and surfaces. The effects considered are those of light, atmosphere and shadow.

Extended travels to Europe, and especially Italy and Portugal, have resulted in important motivational sources in my painting. Italy is a place to better understand my heritage and an environment in which to seek and study high art and architectural treasures. The Etruscan civilization became a significant resource during the early 80's. In recent years, my interest shifted to Portugal, as it seemed a natural extension of my interests in antiquity. This, the oldest country of Europe, offers a powerful, rough presence and unpretentious charm.

I presently work on large-scale canvases and include such materials as tar, cardboard, metal, wood and found objects. The works, if successful, give the appearance of ruined sections of old walls, excavated from a prior ancient setting. The surfaces often reveal multi-layered, richly developed textural patinas through the utilization and combination of paint, collage, inlay and found materials.

Present images attempt to visually appear to mark a passage of time, as well as to describe the metaphysical nature of things. These considerations seem, at this time, to be reasons to dignify a particular space and maintain the delicate balance that life necessitates and demands.

Take a virtual tour of this retrospective at (Photos by Don Rutt)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Looking deeper into the spirit

Michigan artist Keith Smith believes art should take the viewer a step beyond the surface of an object. As a result, his paintings are characterized by a vigorous, often unorthodox use of color, accompanied by strong contours. “I try to use color as a way to make the viewer see more than the basic shapes that define what’s already known to us,” he says.

A native of Traverse City, Keith is entirely self-taught though he’s been drawing and painting since his elementary school days. He paints in acrylics to take advantage of their rich hues and quick drying time — allowing him to layer his colors with little waiting, and without compromising the color purity of each layer.

His influences include the usual suspects like van Gogh, Matisse and the other Fauves because of their unusual and innovative use of color. But he has been just as affected by the clarity and boldness of the American west. The work of Native American artists like the late Fritz Scholder and T.C. Cannon, and their adherents, have played a large role in his artistic development, as well.

“The way they use color — unreal and almost bizarre at times — lures you into the picture and has a way of making you look deeper into the spirit of the subject depicted,” he says. “That’s the goal I have with my paintings. I want people to see that ordinary things can be extraordinary in nature.”

Whether it’s a simple barn, galloping horse, talking crow, or tree-lined hillside, his paintings attempt to evoke the emotion, passion and energy of life.

Gallery Fifty is currently show five of his works, including "Is Anybody Listening?, 24" x 30" framed, $600. Call us for more information or images of Keith's paintings: 231-932-0775.