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Annual Holiday Show

The Hanson Gallery, 5607 Kingston Pike (call 584-6097 for hours or visit

Through Dec. 31

Beauty, Bounty, and Booty

Holiday Gallery hoppers and shoppers are in for a treat

by Heather Joyner

Enoughalreadyet regarding the notion that commerce always compromises artistic integrity. Sure, certain so-called fine art is created with little but profit in mind, and it's usually schlock. Nevertheless, we rave about commodities like Prada valises and updated VW Beetles no matter how commercially motivated their design. Furthermore, it's not the least bit gauche to slap a price tag on something utilitarian. If you consider having art in your home essential to your well-being, then it, too, is utilitarian (and far less likely to kill you than a car). People who eschew art that's blatantly for sale and within a setting that includes less ambitious fare may well be missing something.

On view until the arrival of the new year, the Hanson Gallery's Annual Holiday Show is positively brimming. Surrounded by gleaming glassware, extraordinary crafts, and miscellaneous other precious things beyond the show itself, we find that the cup runneth over into the saucer which runneth over. You get the idea. Given Hanson's vibrant atmosphere and its indisputable variety, I can't fathom anyone purchasing mass-produced mall items as gifts for those near and dear. And yes, some of the art is eye candy or a bit "decorative" in feel. But much of it is impressive. If it inspires us to whip out our wallets, that's icing on the fruitcake as far as the gallery and its artists are concerned.

The work of Nashvillian Anna Jaap is central to Hanson's current offerings. Her oil monotypes and newer fabric pieces combine a profusion of color with intricate composition, and they almost vibrate off the walls. Having had her work appear in the movie The Firm and in a book titled The Color of Joy—as well as displayed by the likes of Baltimore's National Aquarium—Jaap is by no means green in terms of the art world. In fact, she's presently obsessed with red and says, "Color is always, always with me, but red is my current beloved...why red? Red is fierce. It is translucent and fluid and shining and true. It is the color of this life that woos me, wins me, holds me tight and then flings me spinning into yet another day...God help me, I cannot help myself. How I love it."

Jaap has an obvious way with words, and it's therefore not surprising to find them in her work. Lately, she's let sumptuous oriental silks show through paint and spell out phrases like "Free Me" and "Lift Me." Materials that could easily overwhelm the larger picture are tempered by linear (dare I say calligraphic?) elements alluding to parts of plants and flowers. Jaap is big on flowers and comments that "the still life, with its rich and seductive history, is an ever-present reminder of the transient nature of things." And Jaap's method of transferring paintings from glass onto paper furthers that sense of transience. The images are a step removed from the original—their resulting textures are drawn from that which no longer exists as it once did.

Actual leaves and petals are embedded in two ethereal paintings by Jean Hess titled "Names II" and "Names IV" (the first of which graces the cover of a new regional writing anthology called Breathing The Same Air). Varnished and resembling encaustic surfaces flecked with gold, they're reminiscent of landscapes from centuries past and contain the hidden names of many individuals. Cynthia Markert's "Seated Dancer V" also employs gold and possesses a Klimtian majesty. Like a bead snatched from the necklace that was her recent show, it glows. Guest artist Mark Bressler exhibits unusual wood pieces. "Wilderness Waves," a "bowl" made from the burl (or growth) of an Oregon maple, is mounted on an 875-pound lathe and goes for a whopping $5,400. Seeing it, you might understand why. A massive chunk of the natural world, pressure-washed to remove its bark and then turned, gouged, filed, sanded, and hand-polished with wax, Bressler's reconfigured discovery is truly something to behold. A covered vessel carved from box elder is less imposing, but monumental in its own right. Looking like the icon of an environmentally-aware outer space culture, it has a twisted flourish on top.

Diane Hanson, business partner of husband Doug, says that Atlanta resident Bressler simply ambled into their gallery one day and told her that he'd heard about them. She explains, '"Rarely does someone just walk in the door...we generally take trips and go searching for new work." In that instance, the approach proved consequential, and Bressler's works add punch to the mix.

Rounding out a show with too many participants to mention are small canvases by Cynthia Tollefsrud and stone sculpture by Jane Jaskevich. Tollefsrud's variations on a Renaissance-flavored portrait theme (featuring a player with numerous props in the form of boxes and balls) are intriguing. They also provide us with a glimpse of work that will be featured in an upcoming show. The feminist bent of Jaskevich is evident in female figures combined with animal forms. The artist says her pieces "suggest personal myths...[reflecting] the coexistence of the conscious and subconscious, the symbolic and the literal, and the ancient and modern." They indeed project the mystical. A tad groovy in that New Mexico/Native American sorta way, they'll no doubt appeal to the New Age set. Folks longing for that feeling of holiday bounty and spirit should enjoy themselves, as well.

December 14, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 50
© 2000 Metro Pulse