Food for thought

Abstracted 2008

Kirah Van Sickle, is an award-winning illustrator, graphic designer and painter. Her artwork is part of <i>Abstracted 2008</i>.

Kirah Van Sickle, is an award-winning illustrator, graphic designer and painter. Her artwork is part of Abstracted 2008.

Photo By David Robert

Abstract paintings by four Reno-based artists—Joseph Alexander, Alejandra Carpenter, Kirah Van Sickle and Faith Peabody—are on display at Alexandratos Gallery until March 29.

I will state up front that covering this showing of artwork brings to light a pet peeve of mine: venues dubbed galleries that aren’t galleries. Galleries are, by definition, spaces solely dedicated to artwork. Alexandratos Gallery is Paisan’s Deli. The artwork hangs above tables, where diners sit and eat. Alexandratos is not alone in its far stretching of the definition of gallery, which is why I bring it up. When it comes to putting boundaries on art-world terms, definitive lines need to be drawn. And the space and how artwork is hung impacts the way it is viewed and perceived. That’s an important distinction, so venues should be labeled accordingly.

Misnomer aside, I do appreciate whenever original artwork is put on view for the public eye. When put in play outside venues such as galleries and museums, it exposes art to people who likely wouldn’t otherwise view original work.

To the uninitiated, abstract art can be challenging, intimidating. So I applaud Alexandratos for mixing a difficult genre into a workaday setting. It was wonderful to engage with a woman who was dining while I was looking at the paintings. She readily told me her off-the-cuff interpretation of what I believe is one of the better works on display, Van Sickle’s “Untitled.”

“There are three people eating. There’s a pregnant woman,” she says. “I don’t know if that’s right, but that’s what I see.”

That’s the best part about placing original and none-too-obvious artwork in front of people: It gets them looking and thinking about it. That goes a long way in building art consciousness in a community.

I also appreciate that Alexandratos mostly shows work by regional artists. The area needs more venues for young and emerging artists to show their work. Our artists need exposure, wherever they can get it. Obviously, if they are willing to hang $6,500 paintings above meatball sandwiches, it points to the need for more proper local gallery space in which to hang works.

As for the work—there are eight paintings—it’s a mixed bag. As mentioned, Van Sickle’s “Untitled” immediately struck me. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she is an award-winning illustrator, graphic designer and painter. The work is comprised of hard-edged amoeba-like shapes that one could envision as any number of objects; I’d liken it to watching clouds. The color choices ranging from white to greens to pink are lovely look at. Peabody’s “Aqua” was just fine, as well—a grid-like pattern of blues, oranges and yellows covered by drips and smears of a lighter blue. Alexander’s work “Turquoise Horizons” also lends a look for its dreamy contemplations.

And too, Carpenter’s “Vibrant” is nice in its composition and use of color.

Overall, I’d suggest, sure, go have a cup of coffee or lunch and sit under and enjoy some original artwork. Just don’t expect to go into Alexandratos Gallery thinking you’re going to get a gallery experience.