One Passionate Decision: Gallery owner Carol Stein Presents a Challenging Selection of New Art

Cumberland Gallery • July 11 through September 28

by Jane R. Snyder

Kristina Varaksina, Purity, 2014, Archival digital print, 15” x 12”

Kristina Varaksina, Purity, 2014, Archival digital print, 15” x 12”

Even her unusual silver jewelry reflects Carol Stein’s enduring love for art. Thirty-five years ago, when that passion inspired her to open the Cumberland Gallery instead of finishing a PhD in Clinical Psychology, artists and collectors gained an ally with a fabulous eye.

Whatever else you do this season, don’t miss Summer Selections, a revolving group show of gallery artists, which features limited-edition prints, paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and photographs by emerging talent and others who are already well established. Displayed on a “focus wall,” New Works will rotate every few weeks from July 11 to September 8, so make sure you plan on multiple visits.

“For this show,” Carol explained, “we’re going after imagery that is a little more controversial.” In that they have succeeded—Cumberland’s initial group includes artists who have obviously stretched their creative wings and taken flight.

Fred Stonehouse, Ash Wednesday, Acrylic on paper, 20” x 18”

Fred Stonehouse, Ash Wednesday, Acrylic on paper, 20” x 18”

The contemplative women captured by Russian-born photographer Kristina Varaksina will make you ask, what could they possibly be thinking? These meditative compositions and the gentle infusion of light on her subjects may remind you of Andrew Wyeth’s interiors or the gentle atmosphere in Dutch masterpieces, especially canvases by Johannes Vermeer. Kristina’s solitary figures face dilemmas you can only guess at, but viewers will be drawn in easily. This photographer, now living in San Francisco, has earned MFA degrees on two continents, so it is no surprise that her vision is far-reaching.

Carol is enthusiastic about the “fantastical creatures” in Lori Field’s one-of-a-kind silverpoint drawings. A demanding technique originally used by medieval scribes and artists such as Dürer, da Vinci, and Raphael, these intricate drawings will change, over time, from silver to a warm sepia tone. They are bursting with images of flowers and lush vines, fish and comical baboons, fairies and strange armored beings.

Hydeon, Cutting the Light, Mixed media, india ink on Rives BFK paper, 13” x 10”

Hydeon, Cutting the Light, Mixed media, india ink on Rives BFK paper, 13” x 10”

I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did fascinates because the repetitive phrase “I CANNOT SLEEP” enfolds one entire figure but is in direct contrast to the dreamlike renderings that surround this form. Carol believes that “Lori is quite remarkable—one of the best working in this medium today.” One can only speculate as to what images her vibrant imagination will conjure up next.

You might think the pieces in Dan Gualdoni’s Coastal Redux series are encaustics or even photographs, but his process actually involves many layers of oil paint and glue, which he smears, scrapes, or pokes into ghostlike horizons evocative of foggy coastlines. As you look at his work, you can almost feel sand beneath your toes. Born in St. Louis, Dan received his BFA from Washington University and his MFA at Otis Art Institute. He taught for many years, and, as these trancelike paintings indicate, those university students were lucky Dan did so before he retired to paint full time.

Kristina Varaksina, Soldier, 2013, Archival Giclée print, 15” x 12”

Kristina Varaksina, Soldier, 2013, Archival Giclée print, 15” x 12”

A recent MFA graduate from the University of Georgia, Patrick Brien “is doing phenomenally exciting work” as he explores how technology impacts and alters our daily existence. His striking paintings include representational elements interrupted by abstractions that recall glitches in computer software. Patrick’s concern about loss of privacy due to invasive computer applications and rampant social media is one we can all share. Disengaging from technology isn’t easy, but his bold canvases may tempt you to do so.

In Nashville, where you can view collages by grade school children at the Frist Center and encounter public art installations in almost every neighborhood, Carol Stein’s passionate decision to create a place where artists’ work can be seen and acquired helped make Music City a place where all types of art are embraced. When you stop by the Cumberland Gallery, make sure to thank her.

Summer Selections will be on exhibit July 11 to September 28. For more information, please visit www.cumberlandgallery.com.

Marcus Kenney, I Ain’t Tryin’ To Be A Hater, Mixed media on canvas, 36” x 36”
Lori Field, Headtrip, 2014, Silverpoint on paper, 16” x 12”
Margery Amdur, Tracings #1, Silkscreen and acrylic ink on cosmetic sponges, 12” x 20”

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