March 20, 2013

Art: The breakfast club

Weekly artist troupe serves up the ‘Breakfast Group Show’

“Oatmeal, please.” “Morning Muffin and coffee.” “I’ll have the Breakfast Special.” These food orders at The Café are shouted over six tables of conversation between painters and sculptors, textile artists and photographers. Artists, after all, have to eat. But, as Vallorie Henderson explains as she downs her delicious Southern Grits Scramble, “We don’t come for the food.”

Started in 1995 by Susan Gorsen, Barbara Pence, Sally LaBaugh and Joyce Garner, the Artists’ Breakfast Group meets weekly. It’s grown to more than 40 creatives working in various media and represented by different galleries.

For these mid-career professionals, the Breakfast is about sharing ideas and information, or, as Henderson laughingly calls it, “therapy.”

“We’ve had to look to each other for criticism and feedback,” Gorsen says. “We’re not competitive, we’re collaborative. By the third week, it wasn’t by invitation only; it took on a life of its own (and) has become this institution.”

They occasionally hold group exhibitions, such as the one now at Patio Gallery. The 25 works of art are as varied as the breakfasts the artists order.

Anyone visiting a gallery or museum quickly learns not to touch. It’s rare to find art that lets you do just that. Sarah Frederick’s interactive book “Pages” started out as handmade paper. “I know that writers and artists admire fine papers,” she says, “and I received a good response to an invitation to try out the paper I’d made.” Good response, indeed — 28 people “filled these pages in wonderful and varied ways,” says Frederick. Visitors are allowed to turn the leaves of the book (with the gloves provided).

“Theater Set for an Urban Fairytale” by Suzi Zimmerer is a mixed-media piece made of found objects. It begs to be made full-scale for a fantasy production by Tim Burton.

When envisioning a landscape scene, odds are you’re thinking in color. Chuck Swanson’s “Untitled” acrylic on panel painting in black and white shows that doesn’t have to be the case. The trees and hills along a riverbed are actually more serene without the color, as if viewed through fog or in a dream.

But there are standouts even in this diversely talented group.

Teri Dryden’s collage “Cliffs of Dover II” is perfectly titled. The vanilla and faded blue irregular blocks jut and impose as if they were really made of stone and not paper. Her seemingly simple work continues to amuse and amaze.

“Thomas Edison House, Butchertown” is a small pen-and-ink drawing by Paul Reynolds. It comes equipped with a magnifying glass so you can see every superb, minute detail.

The black-and-white archival digital print “Ruins Over the Pecos River” by C.J. Pressma radiates desolate mystery. Every grain in the rocks and blade of grass is stark, sharp and precise. Pressma is a master photographer, and it’s scenes like this that illustrate why.

‘Breakfast Group Show’
Through April 2
Patio Gallery
Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchmans Lane • 459-0660

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