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New Paintings by S.B. Artists

Works by Leslie Lewis Sigler, Nancy Freeman, Jeff Miller


Thursday, July 21, 2011

ALMOST FORGOTTEN: It’s easy to forget about East and West Faulkner (40 E. Anapamu St.), the two little galleries adjacent to the public library’s main exhibition space. This month, it’s worth re-familiarizing yourself, though.

Through the end of July, West Faulkner is filled with an assortment of family heirlooms à la Antiques Roadshow, all classically rendered in oils. Leslie Lewis Sigler calls this collection of still-life paintings Objects of My Reflection, which is both a straightforward description and a play on words. In the mirror-like flanks of a convex sugar bowl or the polished silver of a vintage coffeepot, the artist captures refracted light and patches of darkness. Is that smear of peachy pink cast by a setting sun, or by the hue of her cheek as she leans in for a closer look?

Sigler’s subjects include old-fashioned cameras, vintage fans, and a china cabinet’s worth of tea sets. She’s interested not just in the classic lines and reflective surfaces of these nostalgic objects, but in the roles they play in our lives—treasured, yet no longer utilized, and often stored away from view. She treats each piece with loving attention, yet pictures them in isolation, standing on flat planes, accompanied by little but their own shadows. “Cameo” pictures a lonely rotary telephone in profile, as if it’s sitting for a formal portrait, while “Revival” and “The Wedding Gift” each consist of four canvases; every pitcher and every teacup occupying a world unto itself. There’s a sadness here, and a world of nostalgic wonder, much like you’d find in an antique store where relics stir ancient memories of places and people long gone and half forgotten. For more about the artist, visit leslielewissigler.com.

QUILTED COLORS: Around the corner in La Arcada, the Santa Barbara Arts Association’s Gallery 113 (1114 State St.) honors Nancy Freeman as its artist of the month. The works on display give a sense of not only Freeman’s versatility but also her consistent fascination with patchwork and pattern. The bulk of the show is dedicated to oil painting. Santa Barbara’s gold-and-olive hillsides are featured here, as are Tuscan landscapes where sun-drenched farmhouses nestle in golden hills. Then there are more impressionistic works: “Mist” seems to capture a body of water through the haze, while “Requiem” is an abstract dance of pinks, blues, and purples, transcendent in its refusal to resolve into anything identifiable. At the edge of these larger canvases, there’s a series of collages that expose Freeman’s underlying fascination with geometry, whether abstract or otherwise. “Touch of Red” sets strips of vermillion paper against pale greens, and “Flying Over” echoes the wavering quilt of agricultural fields as seen from an airplane.

Oil painting by Jeff Miller, on view at Bella Rosa Galleries.
Click to enlarge photo

Oil painting by Jeff Miller, on view at Bella Rosa Galleries.

ROUGH MEETS REFINED: Gallerist and curator Andre Monlleo has his own exhibition space on the Eastside, but this month, he’s chosen to show works by Jeff Miller at Bella Rosa Galleries (1103 State St.). Art fans unfamiliar with the space are forgiven; it’s a narrow storefront just above Figueroa Street, and the shop itself specializes in estate jewelry and vintage diamonds. All the more interesting, then, that Miller has hung a series of dark, almost sloppy paintings, all of them untitled. “A” is a vase of peonies outlined in thick black strokes; “D” is abstract, and features globs of paint that look as if they might drip from the canvas and splat on the polished floor. Other works include papery patches of latex that were first painted on glass, then peeled off and applied to canvas. Given its setting, the show comes across as either a bizarre misfire or a countercultural commentary on unnecessary opulence

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