Field Notes: A Local Look at Global Art
by Betsy Wills
What is believed to be the oldest recovered “message in a bottle” was found last month floating in the Baltic Sea. At 101 years old, the missive was returned to the granddaughter of the author, Richard Platz, who had died in 1946. This is the stuff of mystery novels. As a diehard romantic, I’ve had great fun imagining why he may have penned the note. More than likely it was a lark for posterity whose mission now stands accomplished.
One of the reasons I love art is that it offers its own form of time travel. Artist Leslie Holt serves up this theme with aplomb by having syrupy-cute “Hello Kitty” pop up in imitations of iconic artworks. The viewer is forced to look more closely at the canvas and consider the intentions of both past and present artist.
Who knows where this feline rascal will show up next? Is she taking her message back—or bringing something forward?
Betsy Wills admits that she is blissfully ignorant when it comes to art curation and selection. She is, however, an avid art lover and collector and maintains the popular art blog artstormer.com. Wills is proud of the fact that her art does not match her sofa.
Artist Bio – Leslie Holt
Leslie Holt grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, but left the DC area to pursue her undergraduate degree in painting at the University of St. Louis. She continued her studies at Washington State University where she received her masters in fine arts.
Holt has built an eclectic career as a professional artist. She has exhibited her work nationally and also teaches studio art, art history, and art appreciation at the college level. One of her passions is providing support to people with mental and developmental challenges.
Her work explores themes of identity, feminism, and everyday emotions. In the Hello Masterpiece series, Holt customizes clothing and accessories of Hello Kitty, so that the fictitious feline character complements her context—a famous painting from the history of art. However, the kitsch object never quite belongs within the composition of the masterpiece. The irony of juxtaposing “high art” with a “commercial toy” leaves us wondering about the difference between the two.