Review of Current Gildea Gallery Show

by M.R. Willison…….

While in Key West, one must visit the outstanding exhibit of exciting modern art R one of Key West’s most up-to-the-minute art shows, the Gildea Gallery at 522 Southard, just off Duval. Paul Gildea, the founder and director, has a highly-trained eye for the highest quality in contemporary art in the United States and around the world. He brings all this with panache to his enticing little gallery here in Key West for our enjoyment and appreciation.

Among the outstanding painters in his current presentation is Jean Pederson, of Calgary, Alberta, who has had wide-spread recognition across several continents and numerous Canadian prizes and awards. Although non-objective collage is one of her strengths, incorporating striking textures and colors, her wide range of styles extends out to deep, not to say lurid, non-objective purples and reds and to abstracted but figurative women’s heads against a surreal background.

In contrast, Mark Horst of Albuquerque, by way of Boston and Minneapolis, offers a gripping trio sequence of large, highly energetic impressionist shots of two kids on a bicycle hurtling away from us, only to be opposed in the end by another two on an approaching bike, all of this in suggestive yellows, mauves, and shadowy blue. The outcome of the confrontation is left to us.

Just as eye-catching, and even more complex, are the multiple-exposure photographs by the highly knowledgeable gallerist himself, David Bethune. He has several large layered compositions combining images from Parisian art museums (“Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” at the Musée d’Orsay and a Kandinsky at the Pompidou) each overlaid with a photo shot taken from within the museum itself. These complex and suggestive works have all sorts of connotations that lead to intriguing conceptions of the relations between art, gender, and social interaction. Bethune has exhibited in Europe, and has published a attractive book, Wynwood: Street Art of Miami, available on Amazon. Those who have seen these artists’ outdoor wall art in the new art district of Miami have this book to remind them of it, and for those who have not, this book shows them what they must get to see.

For those who prefer representational art, the gallery displays huge psychedelic celebrity faces by nationally popular Herman Stel opposite Nancy Tankersley’s Key West sights in cubistic impasto. She also provides boating and aquatic scenes for Key West mementos, as well as an intriguing, curiously dusky look down at a city’s curving, highway cutting through clumps of tall smoky buildings.

Not to be overlooked is the Gildea Gallery’s wall of compact acrobatic figures by Ancizar Marin. Each one of these can be slid up or down its grasped coil of wire to any desired height. Each loosely figured half-a-foot figure in its strong reflective primary color hangs in athletic pose waiting to be positioned on this ‘rope’ hung from high above.

There are also single paintings by a number of very-well-known and much–collected painters, including ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Steve McElroy’s linked black oblongs on white and Tamar Kander’s lurid red three-dimensional lips. And one should not overlook the amazingly thin, stretched, curved sculptures throughout the gallery by Todd Andrew Babb of Naples, Florida.

But of most interest may be paintings by Nancy Ortenstone, whose abstracts we will see more of at a later Gildea solo show, their striking colors richly varied in constructivist arrangements.

The Gallery also intends to exhibit a Key West artist, Darren Jones, originally of Scotland, trained at Central St. Martin’s in London and at Hunter College in New York. Jones is a conceptualist, incorporating interesting ideas and the words that help express them in his current production, as well as more ‘realistic’ responses to Key West and its life. His work has been shown extensively in the U.S. and internationally.

(Be sure to note that the Gildea Gallery will be offering an exceptional sidewalk 50%-off sale of works on Gildea Night, Monday, March 13 from ­­­7 to 10 p.m., with libations and live music in the gallery, and door prizes of gliquee of portrait by Stel, and free gifts of works by Sherry Cook, MJ Levy Dickson, and other artists!)

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