The heart of the matter

A rare collection of different art results in an impressive Valentine’s Day exhibit

John Martin’s “Dos Pescados.”

John Martin’s “Dos Pescados.”

Photo By David Robert

The Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays inside the Church Fine Arts Complex at the University of Nevada, Reno. Call 784-7782.

Valentine’s Day means something different for everyone, especially artists.

In the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery’s fifth annual Valentine’s Day exhibition and auction, 94 artists paint, draw, write, sculpt, digitize and photograph, working with various mediums, arranging their perceptions of the day of love. This year’s event is titled El Corazon, Spanish for “the heart.”

What a treat to have such a selection of artists presenting their pieces in one exhibit. The gathering is rare, and the art community should be grateful.

The photographs in this show are emotionally charged. Some leave the audience smiling, while others abandon it in isolation.

J. Damron’s “tokyo, after Jimmy jewel"(photo, fiber paper), catches a hand pushing up the brim of a hat. The fluid contrast and gentle mood of the photograph date the moment, sending the audience back in time.

Scott Hinton’s “Etching with a Sharp Screw"(silver gelatin print), seems desperate and alone. Seven frames fill Hinton’s sequence of open space and strong lines. Beautiful contrast gives his image a smooth shape for the eye to glide across and a dark, sinful mood for the mind to contemplate. The final frame shows the artist’s head reflecting in a rear-view mirror. The human element gives the piece texture and something for the audience to care about.

A papier-mâché piece, “Love Story Weaver in Rainbow Showers” by Shannon O’Keeffe, moves slightly in the breeze of those that pass. With a rose for a head, pastel-colored wings and leaves wrapped around its waist, this delicate piece resonates love.

Some of the sculpture is fascinating, including Michael Norton’s “La Adorada Madre"(acrylic, wood polyurethane and electric fixture), which blends the religious figure of the Virgin Mary with a Spanish motif painted on a clay heart. Mary sits in front of the heart concealing a lady caressing her breast behind a flickering orange light. The layers Norton creates add a rich texture both visually and intellectually.

John Martin’s sculpture “Dos Pescados” (ceramic) is one of the most expressive works in the show. Fishhooks weave through the sides of a face filled with terror, its mouth stuffed with two twisting fish. A smaller fish swims out of the eye of the figure, as the hooks hang the face’s pain on the wall of the gallery. The visually shocking piece is something to spend time with; it’s amazing.

Elegant and delicate, Tamara Scronce’s “Cradle” (steel and paper) hangs softly on a mantle in the corner of the gallery. It begs to be touched. The long form floats in the middle of a wire half-shaped heart. Scronce has a special ability to create forms that are so visually inviting and make the audience wonder what the texture feels like. She does this each time she shows sculpture.

The felt works of Southern California artist James Gobel are once again in the Sheppard Gallery. “Love, James” is pink and in-your-face—simple, yet evocative. White acrylic paint traces the outline of Gobel onto a hot-pink felt canvas. The mood is jolly, as is the artist.

Christine Pinney Karkow washes the exhibit with a dark sinister perception of Valentine’s Day. “Pool” (acrylic on Plexiglas) swirls with blood red, with violet lines to mark the figure of a pool. The piece is bolted to the canvas. Even when Karkow splashes her piece with oranges, lightening the piece, the eye is dragged back into the lush, red, swirling color.

If you’re thinking about purchasing art for your valentine, get down to the exhibit soon. This annual show is the Sheppard Fine Art Gallery’s biggest event of the year, and you might have some tough competition bidding for your favorite piece. A reception and silent auction for El Corazon will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 9. The free event features music, wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres. All proceeds will go to support the gallery’s programming.