Trish Clark Palmer's "Buddy by the Pool" (2008).

Amid battling political rhetoric, crashing stock markets, and economic downturn, it can be challenging to slow down and enjoy the smaller, finer things in life. Historically, art has functioned as a barometer of cultural and social issues, but it has also been a way of celebrating the world around us, reminding us of the joys that always are present if we take a moment to notice them. Here’s to taking a break from current events and reminding ourselves of everyday beauty.

Where Fauvism Meets Fashion

You may have noticed, strolling down the tourist-diminished sidewalks of State Street, that Wendy Foster/Pierre LaFond has added a new visual component to its already artful window displays. In addition to the high-end, well-crafted fashions that grace the storefront’s windows, they now feature the delightfully expressive paintings of Trish Clark Palmer. Palmer’s Fauvist-inspired, large-scale canvases depict quietly posed horses against colorful, impressionistic backgrounds. In the Fauvist portraiture tradition, Palmer uses unconventional and unnatural colors-purples, oranges, and blues-to capture the spirit of her subject matter in a manner that is both imaginative and strident. In “Three Amigos,” a trio of horses stands in a huddle, painted with a bold palette reminiscent of a Cezanne still life. These paintings hang between mannequins in the windows, providing a natural background for forward-thinking fashion design.

All in the Family

Just down the street, new restaurant Julienne is keeping it local, artistically as well as gastronomically. Owners Just West and his fiancee Emma Gudeman opened the restaurant in October to promote “locavore” eating habits by using sustainable, fresh food. To add to the restaurant’s homey ambience, West and Gudeman begged, borrowed, and commissioned works of art from Gudeman’s uncle, Francisco Velasco. Highly textured, multilayered, and boldly colored, Velasco’s work is an appropriate complement to the restaurant, which strives for a progressive and unique style. One of the works, which features an abstracted mother and child painted in soothing blues, was a piece that Gudeman grew up with in her childhood home. Other works were borrowed, like the small collages where Velasco cut and pasted actual canvas pieces to form abstracted, roughly textured portraits. Gudeman also commissioned a work specifically for the space and asked Velasco to interpret the restaurant in his bold, abstract style. The result is a fiery red painting of a chef cooking over an open flame with streaks of movement behind him, a suitable testament to Julienne’s spirit of culinary adventure.

Suemae Willhite's "Koi Fish."

Color and Flair

At the other end of State Street, Fresco Five Points continues to provide refreshing and innovative examples of art. Most recently, Fresco curator Shelley Flanders has chosen a trio of artists who embrace color with an almost unnatural fervor. Suemae Whillhite is no exception, with works that exaggerate colors found in nature, like the bright orange and yellows refracted in the blue waters of a koi pond viewed from above. Amir Jabbari, a frequently featured Fresco artist, contributes to the hyper-colored atmosphere with his Santa Barbara landscapes, replete with the stunning views that characterize our fair city. And Marilyn Kandus, with an expressionistic flair for the dramatic, finds whimsy in the everyday scenes of nature, like birds feeding on brightly colored fruits. While this Fresco location is known for its pleasant patio seating, even from inside, there’s no shortage of stunning views.

Trish Clark Palmer at Wendy Foster/Pierre LaFond

833 State St.

Shows through November 20.

Francisco Velasco at Julienne

138 E. Canon Perdido St.

Up indefinitely.

Amir Jabbari, Marilyn Kandus, and Suemae Willhite at Fresco Five Points

3987 State St., Ste B

Up through November 23.


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