Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Karen Russell Opening

I went to the opening reception of Karen Russell's solo art show at Sam Flax (1800 East Colonial Drive) on July 9th. I arrived straight from my job at Full Sail. I had to buy a few brushes for my trip to Santo Domingo. I bumped into Karen and her friend George as I was shopping. Karen let me know that she had crackers and that spray on Easy Cheese. How awesome! I haven't had Easy Cheese since I was a kid. This was turning out to be quite an auspicious  pinky raised affair. Karen had to run out to get a few more supplies for the opening.

Since I was early, I started sketching the room, leaving a few open spots for arts patrons when they arrived. I spoke with the store owner for a while and I'm very happy that he is now stocking quality sketchbooks.  Half of the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks had sold from the floor display that he had picked up from the Namta Art Supply Convention at the Orlando Convention Center about a month ago. He has started stocking the new quality sketchbooks from Canson and Strathmore as well. As he said, "This is the year of the sketchbook."

Karen was dressed all in black, with oil paint dabbed all over her calves. She returned with a supply of Communion wafers. Gordon Spears tried one and he said it tasted a bit like an ice cream cone or Styrofoam. I tried a small white wafer as well, letting it dissolve on the roof of my mouth. Karen suggested that they taste better with Easy Cheese. I never did try that combo. Being Jewish, my wife Terry wondered if she would go to hell for tasting a wafer. Some guy told her that it wasn't too late to save her soul. She avoided him the rest of the evening. Terry had Karen paint a nude of her. The angular painting stares at me as I try to go to sleep at night. Terry joked that we should buy all the paintings and then sell them for thousands of dollars more down at Art Basel in Miami. A store clerk talked about how locals don't buy art. He knew of a couple from Orlando who purchased some art in a Chicago art gallery. The art was by an Orlando artist. They said that they never buy art in Orlando. "For some reason, people only appreciate art north of the Mason Dixie Line." he said.

People sat in all the black "Darth Vader" studio chairs on display. A friend of Karen's showed off all the abrasions and bruises she got at a "Sui-slide" party she had been at. Another woman had a broken finger. Darn, I knew about that party and didn't go to sketch. I could kick myself. The model for one the paintings liked how she looked on the wall with a flower in her hair. Jokingly, she lamented the hunch back and saggy boobs. A couple bought the smallest painting for $65. A green dot went on the label. I love Karen's work. The harsh knuckled fingers and angular figures remind me of Viennese Expressionistic art prior to the world wars. This show is on display through July 23rd.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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