Two artists ‘Land’ at JCC for joint gallery exhibition
The “double-feature,” continuing through April 15, the Gallery at the JCC, Jewish Community Center of Allentown, is a collection of works created by two talented local artists; Kay Frederick and Melissa Perhamus.
The works of the two women fill the two-room gallery. “Where You Land” was conceived when, according to Frederick, “ … we were trying to find a commonality … because Melissa … has got a style that has a wonderfully organic, ‘foresty’ feel … part bullish and ‘Salvador Dali-ish’ … and mine is so representational, kind of the opposite end ...”
Frederick went on to say that they both had a lot of landscapes. She continues, “… so I said let’s do something with ‘landscapes’ ...”
Perhamus interjects, “…because it is a play on where you stop, where you land, where you place yourself in front of pieces, to kind of take a moment. So, it’s where we kind of landed as we were making them. To me, it’s like a play on ‘landscapes’ but also where you are in the moment.”
Frederick’s artistic style moves from “painterly and representative” commercial book cover illustrations, person and pet portraiture, to more impressionistic landscapes. In her artist’s statement, Frederick declares, “I love to use contrasts of light and dark to create drama. Art Nouveau influences can be found in my drawings as flowing lines, brush strokes and composition. The beauty I find in nature translates into works meticulously created on paper, canvas, and through carefully executed carved wood block reduction prints.”
“Cavalier Dreaming” in acrylic and gold foil is an accurate likeness of a small dog’s playful face in a small round frame. A large watercolor protagonist illustration, “Vladimir Awaits,” is of a distinguished, bearded young gentleman in a doorway, created for a short story Frederick had written a few years ago. Illustrations for another book she authored, hang nearby.
As a member of the Printmakers Society of the Lehigh Valley, Frederick’s large, highly-detailed woodcuts of ferns and water lilies dominate her half of the show. Works such as “Waterlillies Coral” (woodcut and collage) are complicated and multilayered, part real life and part fantasy.
Landscapes and still life subjects are rendered in watercolor and gouache such as the hazy view of pines and mountains of “Ethereal Mist“ and the homey “Yellow Tiger Swallowtail & Peaches.” Others are painted boldly with a palette knife in acrylic, as in the more abstract landscape on canvas “Stormy.”
Perhamus, in her artist’s statement, explains, “The works in this exhibit explore the ideas that all things organic are connected, the impermanence of all living things, nothing is static, and things we may believe at first glance are not what we thought.”
During the opening reception, she says, “It’s surreal, but recognizable … influenced by Dali and Escher, because there is a lot of play on positive into negative spaces …”
Pointing to her charcoal and acrylic “Meet me … Somewhere better,” she adds, “But then also Dr. Seuss … especially that one in the middle there. You can see it has … the Dr. Seuss trees and moss and little things like that.
“He was one of my favorite authors as a kid … his work, actually, his style, influenced me.” Created in 2014, the piece is a flowing, vague landscape with tree-like shapes that reach up into the tan and light gray mountains in the background, while roots ooze into the ground below.
“I used to be extremely realistic,” Perhamus remembers, “I had a teacher who gave me a four-inch house paintbrush and a bucket of black paint. I couldn’t use anything else for the entire semester … because the other stuff was safe, that I could [already] do it well. She wanted me to find that other component. I hated her then. I wish I could thank her now.”
In several of her works on display are trees painted in acrylic over maps of the Lehigh Valley. The quadriptych “Spring into … Easton, Bangor, Wilson, Windgap” is an example of this, where trees seem to spring up from the maps which have already morphed into the landscape and sky. The colors are bright and crisp which is a result of Perhamus being color blind.
Perhamus explains that she, like, “ … the majority of people who are color blind can see red and green. But, when you take complementary colors and mix them, that’s how you make brown … when they start to spread apart, you guys will start to see a red-brown, and red, and green, and I am going to still see brown. In order for me to see the red it has to be further away from the center. It has to be brighter …”
Other works include graphite drawings of butterflies morphing into plants, rocks and other organic shapes found in nature. What is real transforms into something otherworldly.
Hours: 6 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Gallery at the JCC, Jewish Community Center of Allentown, 702 N. 22nd St. (22nd and Tilghman streets), Allentown. allentownjcc.org, 610-435-3571