Obviously my week got a little off track – a broken heart will do that to a girl. Before I move on from last week’s unofficial fine arts theme, I wanted to tell you about my trip to see Kate’s (my sister-in-law) exhibition while I was in North Carolina. Before we cruised to the gallery, I had a chance to see Cinderella in person. She’s even more beautiful than you could have guessed. Clearly my abs were the model here.
Kate’s work is almost frenetic in its energy. Oh wait, I always do that. I know she prefers Kathryn, especially when her name is used in relation to her work. As I still use the names Thommy, Gwengie, and Roberry frequently despite clear requests to cease and desist, I think we’ve proven I suck at changing old habits. All the same, I’ll try again.
Kathryn’s work is almost frenetic in its energy. The variety of textures, images, colors, and words keep your eye darting wildly across each piece. Sometimes they remind me of those optical illusions we studied as kids (is it an old woman or a young woman?), not because there’s ever any doubt what the subject matter is but rather because to fully absorb the picture, you have to relax your analytical mind and let the larger image wash over you.
Her pieces also remind me a little bit of reading the Kit Williams books as a kid. Each piece is stunning in its own right, but the real treasures are hidden in the details. Paint brushes double as books. Ric rac doubles as plants. They’re the type of piece that you grow to love more with time as you find more layers of secrets….and insider jokes. I laughed out loud when I noticed a nude with a strategically placed lion’s face.
This piece captivated me. Many of her works depict cats and dogs. In fact, she generates most of her income through commissioned pet portraits. This guy was no commission, however. He’s a stray Kathryn and Drew (doh, I mean Andrew) fostered for a brief stint. His name is Mister Pucci. If someone tried to call me Mister Pucci, I’m pretty certain I’d run away, too – especially if my road trip resulted in my being the subject of a gorgeous piece of art! You can almost hear his Siamese squawk and the shattering of the wine glass that doubtlessly followed the moment captured here.
This was my favorite piece of the entire show. On one side of the gallery, a series of these smaller works on wooden boards hung in a tidy row. The ink studies for each of these works were arranged directly across the space on the opposite wall. I bounced back and forth across the expanse of carpet to analyze the evolution of each piece. In ink, the face was softer. In color, her posture was far more vulnerable. In the study, the background contained a picture of a still life. In the final piece, another portrait emerged from the background. Between all the spinning, smiling, and drinking of wine, I was a dizzy mess overwhelmed in beauty.
After our private showing, we headed to the restaurant next door for a little more wine and loads more catching up. This has absolutely nothing to do with the show, Kate’s brilliant work, or art in any form, but I just need an excuse to describe our waiter. As far as waiters go, he was absolutely horrible – and that’s not just my uppity NYC attitude peaking out. I thought Mom was going to throttle him with her empty wine glass. We never, ever got our appetizer, but Drew seemed fully placated with his Angry Angel beer.
Despite his shortcomings, I was still completely fascinated by the guy. Sure, he was possibly the worst waiter I’ve ever had, but he was by far the best Gay John Denver look alike I’d ever seen. If he’d been wearing a top hat, I’d have expected a frog to pop onto his shoulder and the two to serenade us with the Twelve Days of Christmas. His blond mop hung over his wire rimmed glasses and swung side to side as he repeatedly responded to our questions (like “did you put in our order?” or “could I have some water?”) with a sad shake of his head. I’d love to see him in a floor length evening gown performing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” but I never need to eat at that restaurant again.
So the moral of the story is: next time you’re in Durham, NC, be sure to swing by the Craven Gallery and see Kate (AHEM!) Kathryn’s work, but choose a different restaurant to sit and debate which piece was your favorite.