This February, Abend Gallery is pleased to present a three person exhibition, featuring the works Mary Chiaramonte, Dana Hawk and Rob Rey, each of whom, in their own right, share with the audience the gift of visual storytelling.
Mary Chiaramonte embarks on a journey of painting the narrative of what it means to belong to a land with a rich spiritual past. She explores the history of ancient Paganism and the connection its people had to the exceptionally sacred and beautiful grounds they lived among; these lands they called “The Thin Places.” The term was used to designate particular places and describe those areas as an overlapping or joining of the space between heaven and earth. “With this specific body of work I wanted to describe visually what that sense of belonging to the land and its spirituality was like.”
Chiaramonte presents her subjects in an almost dream-like state of stoic urgency. They are intertwined with their surroundings—fire and stormy sky reflected off the flesh, wind spiraling their very being, snow enveloping their outer shell, each subject’s dynamic movement captured in an isolated moment in time. Dana Hawk strives to finds the bright side of things in painting subject matter that is positively charged. “I have no urge to paint self-revolving, overly emotional images. Reproducing any sort of pain does not motivate me. What gets me inspired and into the studio is producing works that are beautiful, whimsical, humorous, and overall uplifting.”
She characterizes herself as a portraitist, that of humans or animals. “I find this area of painting the most intriguing for me, and what I seem to do best. Any other features in my work are largely to serve as supporting elements to the portrait subject.” Her beautifully and primarily tightly rendered portraits exhibit all qualities of reality, but are often juxtaposed with an element rendering the composition improbable in the best way—surprising and whimsical.
“I love realism in painting, but I'm not a fan of reality.” Whether blurring the line of subject matter and background, or presenting her models in unlikely poses, Hawk delights the viewer by helping them discover the unlikely story of how her characters got there.
Rob Rey strives to paint the narrative of inspiring science in poetic ways. “Through countless mythological traditions, humanity has proven to have a deep-seated need for awe-inspiring stories and the experience of wonder. With a powerful resonance, mythological narratives provide a framework for understanding where we fit in our communities, and in our cosmos. They can also give us a feeling of shared connection and participation with the rest of humanity, helping us to show our more caring and compassionate side.”
In this body of work, Rey poses the questions: “What are the resonant, positive, and awe-inspiring stories of today” and “How can our expanding scientific knowledge provide a myth-like enchantment with the natural world and grow our empathic interests toward our fellow humans?” Exploring these concepts visually, Rob hopes to promote or create the narratives that best help us to achieve these goals.
Further expanding his thoughts, Rob shares his opinion, “To put it plainly, religion is outdated, but people still want myth-like tales that move them, guide them, and help them to feel connected. I find our reality as revealed by science immensely awesome, and I feel its story can fulfill our desire for mythic wonder, without the need for supernatural beliefs or dogmas. I paint allegories of science to provide visual reminders or access points to the ideas that I find most inspiring in a post-religious world.”