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Sea and Sky: April Higashi and Aondrea Maynard

PressApril HigashiComment

April Higashi has made her name on her skillful and organic style of enameling. Building layers of color in a painterly fashion she creates small and wearable artworks rooted in a reverence for nature. Conversely, Aondrea Maynard paints large canvases in which she distills moments unseen yet present in the natural world around us. A smart pairing, the show “Sea & Sky” is a look at the evocative ways in which artists become inspired by the natural world and their relationship to it. Each artist, though very different in chosen medium and scale, is working from a deep and intuitive place, attempting to assign materiality to the intangible realm of experience.

                      'Ma' Brooch: painted enamel, diamond slices, 18kyg, oxidized silver

                      'Ma' Brooch: painted enamel, diamond slices, 18kyg, oxidized silver

Higashi is currently navigating the challenges of new motherhood, owning and operating a gallery and continuing an art practice of her own. Despite this hectic work environment, her new collection has a sense of peace and stillness. A subtle shift has occurred in her enamels as vibrant patterns spread over the whole surface have been left behind for a more sparse imagery with soft white backgrounds. “Ma” Brooch (painted enamel, oxidized silver, 18k yellow gold, and diamond slices) exhibits a single bare branch, rendered fuzzy as if seen through thick fog. About this new aesthetic Higashi says, “I wanted to arrive at a subtle beauty that gives the viewer a sense of calm. This quiet place is a space that I crave, even if only enjoyed for the smallest moments.” These new enamels are small homages to the awe-inspiring effect of nature. Perhaps by pointing our gaze at artwork instilled with this awe we may be able to steel a moment away from the busy, over-scheduled day to day.

                          'Shiro' Brooch: fossilized coral, black diamonds, 24 & 18k gold

                          'Shiro' Brooch: fossilized coral, black diamonds, 24 & 18k gold

Higashi’s reverence for nature comes through in not only the imagery painted on her enamels but the materials she uses as well. Shiro Brooch (fossilized coral, black diamonds, 24&18k gold) offers the viewer a relic from the past. Embellished very sparingly with a faux branch reproduced from gold and set with black diamonds gives the piece a feeling of elaborate repair. Like many jewelers, Higashi works with precious metals, stones and pearls. Always careful to use only those that are responsible and sustainable, her eye falls on the peculiar. The pearls, stones and other precious materials seen in this show shed light on her special interest in the beauty of imperfection. Those things that nature makes sub-par or irregular, according to market standards, are the very materials that she covets. The asymmetry of a branch of fossilized coral, a domé pearl originally used as a test to make cultured pearls, and raw diamonds mined decades ago to make industrial tools hold the spotlight in this extensive body of new work.

                  Lover, 2011: Oil on wood panel, 22" x 60"

                  Lover, 2011: Oil on wood panel, 22" x 60"

Aondrea Maynard’s paintings are at once beautiful and haunting. Capturing the liminal, she creates a visual language for the moments that happen in between what we might consider regular and documentable events. In many of her paintings, namely Lover (oil on wood), light and color are a strong focus and occupy the canvas with as much weight as line and shape. What looks like puffs of smoke, upward moving steam, and currents of air are rendered as tangible as a full moon or the silhouette of tree tops. A reoccurring shape appears, reminiscent of the end of a cello or violin or perhaps the ubiquitous Acanthus leaf. In Whaling Song, the shape has such a weight and shadow that it becomes animate, a living and breathing being. For the artist it is a shape that feels good to paint and her body has a natural tendency towards it. In this way a language specific to the artists physicality has become part of the visual language of her painting.

      Whaling Song, 2011: Oil on wood panel, 40" x 36"

      Whaling Song, 2011: Oil on wood panel, 40" x 36"

Challenges of sustaining a successful art practice are present for both artists. In Maynard’s short talk given during the show opening she spoke of the dangers of getting stuck in an aesthetic that sells well. For a painter whose aim is to paint the invisible, she has to try to shelve this looming demand of marketability and get to that deeper place that many artists seek. For Higashi and Maynard continuing a successful studio practice while striving toward their true creative vision is not easy in the midst of life’s daily challenges. In “Sea & Sky” we are offered an unusual comparison of the work of two artists, a jeweler and painter. Similarly inspired, the careers of two women converge at Shibumi Gallery as they exhibit their most recent bodies of work.

 

For those unable to steal a moment from their day-to-day, visit Shibumi Gallery's Flickr page where you will find April Highashi's jewelry collectionAondrea Maynard's paintings as well as photos from the opening.

Review by Ahna Adair

April Higashi Jewelry + Aondrea Maynard Paintings 'Sea & Sky'

Artist Profile, PressApril HigashiComment

The 'Sea & Sky' show, an elegant and dreamy pairing of jewelry and paintings, will be up through December 04, 2011.
 

     April Higashi, 'Ma' Brooch, painted enamel, oxidized silver, 18k yellow gold, diamond slices

     April Higashi, 'Ma' Brooch, painted enamel, oxidized silver, 18k yellow gold, diamond slices

'Ma' is not something that is created by compositional elements; it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. It is best described as a consciousness of place, not in the sense of an enclosed three-dimensional entity, but rather the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision.

                                    Aondrea Maynard, Midnight Swoon, oil on wood panel

                                    Aondrea Maynard, Midnight Swoon, oil on wood panel

My paintings are a visual dialogue between myself and the natural world, a narrative of my own inner journey and the metaphorical landscapes found there. Nature itself in perfect harmony has always been a powerfully soothing presence in my life, one that inspires my work continuously.

My paintings are portraits of dreams, memories, moments in silence and abstractions all infused with the appreciation and wonder of the beauty of this natural world, its unspoken wisdom and limitless grace.

           April Higashi, Nori Necklace, enamel, pencil, oxidized silver, 1920's steel cut beads

           April Higashi, Nori Necklace, enamel, pencil, oxidized silver, 1920's steel cut beads

This body of work is more direct, as coral-like branches are rendered to appear as if captured in a mist. The images are painted in layers using graphite, enamel and china paint. They are partially hidden creating an atmosphere of distance that asks the viewer to leave them to exist in their own quiet suspended space.
 

                                     April Higashi + Aondrea Maynard, November 2011

                                     April Higashi + Aondrea Maynard, November 2011