“Wave and Rock” – Suzanne G Bennett
“Wave and Rock” – Suzanne G Bennett
Visitors to BIG ARTS on Friday, Oct. 19 can experience two distinct realities through upcoming visual arts shows. Simultaneous opening receptions introduce exhibits of conceptual art in Phillips Gallery and plain air in Founders Gallery at the Dunlop Road location.

“The Sense of Things” features three Southwest Florida artists – Del Holt, Guy Tieman and Dale Weber – in an exhibit that explores their art as well as each individual’s creative process. “Passion for Pastels” features Suzanne G. Bennett and Michele Barron Buelow with unusual approaches to plein air painting.

“The Sense of Things” artist Holt paints creatures and scenarios that refer to our world in whimsical and thought-provoking ways. In conceiving the group show, BIG ARTS’s visual arts committee started with Holt’s work, said Lauren Huff, programs coordinator, then brought two other whimsical conceptual artists into the show fold. “Holt’s animals in humanesque environments are surreal in terms of the thought process,” she said. “It’s different from most of what we see on the island.”

For example, Holt’s website gathers his work into online galleries. In the “Nudes” category, the first work that a web visitor sees is a reclining orangutan viewed from its head and arms in the foreground with just a hint of the rest of its body in view. It’s not at all scintillating; the joke is on the viewer, whose concept of “nude” is thereby challenged.

In Holt’s paintings, primates are common, and they often appear in scenes with a moon or other circular objects that make them appear to have halos. Two wear Victorian-style dresses with their hair in ringlets. His work can be found in the collections of Jane Goodall and Malcolm Forbes.

“As we age, we tend to lose our ability to explore, express and take risks,” artist Guy Tieman asserts on his website.

“As a child growing up on the East Coast, I loved creating art. In my 20s and 30s, I focused on printmaking and photography (BFA), and on glass art (MFA). Living in the Midwest, I was William Carlson’s artist assistant. And I was a glass artist with pieces in several galleries. By my 40s, with two young sons in tow, I moved to Southwest Florida, got a ‘real job,’ and focused on raising my kids.

“Now, in my 50s, with my sons in high school, I’ve begun creating art for myself again. I’ve avoided the intricacies and labor of glass art and focused on print and drawing and wood and paint — art that allows me to experience the true satisfaction of artistic expression.”

His “Scribbles & Bits” pieces depict birds and abstract geometrics, some with robotic associations. “Of Tinkertoys and Crayons” pieces become wood and paint figures with colorful dowels.

Dale Weber is all about second chances. He creates assemblages from found objects.

“I find cast-offs along railroad tracks, at construction dumps, flea markets, thrift shops; wherever they lay,” says his online artist’s statement. “I believe all matter, inanimate as well animate, is destined to lead many lives and serve many purposes. With encouragement the discarded can re-invent itself on a different level.”

If there is a moral to his work, he says, it is this: “Everything deserves a second look, a second chance. Perhaps together we will begin to see our surroundings with new eyes. Awareness is the first step of change.”

And although the reception in the Founders Gallery, “Passion for Pastels,” focuses on the outside world more realistically, both artists involved “toe the line of abstract art,” Huff said. “Both push the boundaries of plein air, conveying motion and emotion” in what is normally a fairly static genre.”

Suzanne G. Bennett, inspired by her surroundings, focuses on the twisting lines of the local foliage, large swatches of color from landscapes, and huge colorful domes of sunsets.

Michele Barron Buelow focuses on portraying the scene in front of her, the movement, the incredible variety of hue and shape that nature displays. Locally, she is a member of the San-Cap Art League and teaches pastel at BIG ARTS.

Both receptions begin at 5:30 p.m and feature complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvre. Both shows open Oct. 17 and are on display through Nov. 25.

For more information, call 239-385-0900 or visit BIGARTS.org.