Naples-area, Tallahassee artists bring 'Rock Paper Scissors' art show to Marco
The ancient game of "Rock Paper Scissors" has only one winner. At the Marco Island Center for the Arts, everyone wins.
That especially includes the visitors, who will find themselves stopping again and again in all three of its gallery rooms to gasp at bird's nests created from a single sheet of paper, gleaming marble shapes and handmade papers that melt into abstract paintings.
Center Executive Director Hyla Crane even teased guests at its opening reception, playing a round of the game with them before she pronounced them all winners for having seen this art first.
The crowd agreed.
"There's a lot of 'How did she do that?'" said John Johnson, of Marco Island, who wandered the exhibition with his well-mannered Havanese, Oscar.
He was facing one of the scherenschnitte works by Lucrezia Bieler of Tallahassee, who creates her intricate cut-paper art with surgical scissors and whose work has just come back from a Smithsonian exhibition.
German native Bieler, a former illustrator, has been creating scherenschnitte — pronounced SHEER-un-SHNIT-uh — since her childhood in Switzerland, and it has evolved into three dimensions in many of her works. The bird Johnson was inspecting had its tail feathers and segments of its wings and branches bowed out from the mat board, casting artful shadows on it.
Johnson also appreciated Naples sculptor Angelika Kade's work: "The thing I like about the sculpture is its diversity. You get some torsos and some abstract forms — it's not all figures or faces. There are some things we know and some shapes we love."
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Paintings without paint
Barbara Parisi, curator of the exhibition, echoed his sentiments about the exhibition: "How can you not love working with this art?"
She had specifically arranged the works in game order, so that viewers will see one each of a rock (sculpture), handmade paper and piece of scissored art as they move along.
Apparent in the show was that pieces appeared to be paintings from afar but showed off the technique on close inspection. Isles of Capri artist Joanna Sunshine had blended everything from egg cartons to beads or Mylar strips with splashes of color to create works definitive enough to title, such as her gold-yellow-and-tawny "Three Kings."
And in the corner room, La Petite Gallery, there was a bonus: an unrelated show of handmade books by Billie Granneman of Marco. It, too, had look-closer moments: A leaf-green knotted twine caterpillar inched from back to cover in her botanical journal as a decorative binder.
Bieler's works, which contain cutouts the size of confetti, were clearly a sensation at the exhibition.
"I find this paper work totally enchanting," said Marie Senechal of Marco Island. Her companion, Pat Lacy, seconded that: "We're privileged to have her here on the island."
Bieler had brought the Swiss-produced two-tone paper she uses so she could show visitors how she sketches her subject and cuts on its lighter side so there are no marks on the black side.
Her scissors, nearly identical to those used by surgeons to remove cataracts, are made by a surgical tool professional in Switzerland. Complex pieces such as Bieler's "Circle of Life" can take five to six months, and that's after planning and executing the sketch. One of her works in the Smithsonian show, "Coral Reef," depicts a diver in waters teeming with sea life; it was a 2½-year project in total.
Bieler recalled having to flip the entire 42- by 24-inch piece of paper to inspect her work as it neared completion, after more than half of it had been snipped out for her filigreed art.
"I was holding my breath," she admitted. "I was terrified."
Added to the intricacy of the cuts is the architecture. To allow branches to stand out from the mat in framing in one work, Bieler had to outline pieces heavy enough to stand out when they were matted, but not so heavy as to pull on the rest of the paper.
From featherweight to 60
Kade has her own questions of balance and weight with the stone she works on; her husband, Werner, has been the sculptor's moving company, getting pieces as heavy as 60 pounds to shows.
One of her vivid works, "Passion," opens the show. It's relatively light, 20 pounds, but a work treated as though it were eggshell, because it's a translucent tangerine alabaster Kade said she can't obtain any more.
"When it's sitting in front of a window and the light comes in through it — oh!" she declared, beaming.
For Sunshine, spontaneity is the hallmark of her papers. "I don't start out with a preconceived notion of what it will be," she said.
She blends color and small extras with folded or crumpled papers for her three-dimensional pieces or mixes raw material from bark to colored paper scraps to carefully culled dryer lint — "It has to be all natural fibers," she said — with water in a blender before she presses them between screens to dry.
"I like working with found objects. And I like things embedded in the paper. I like texture," she said.
For Granneman, the idea of making personalized books developed from her practice of marking cards and paper items. The former scientist for Abbott Laboratores didn't try bookbinding until she took an arts survey class in Fort Myers that included it.
Granneman doesn't stop at custom binding and covers. Nearly every page has some illustration, and many of the books are shaped as well; one is a butterfly. Many have hand-edged pages.
To show off both pages and cover, Granneman found Plexiglas display cases generally used for basketballs and footballs.
Her garden journal, however, is in a bell jar. It's clearly her favorite and it's not for sale.
"I didn't even want to chance selling it, because I don't know if I could do another like this," she said.
'Rock Paper Scissors'
What: Exhibition of art by a stone sculptor, a paper maker and a scherenschnitte artist
Where: Marco Island Center for the Arts, 120 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, through May 29
Something else: The center's Gift Gallery, where most of the inventory is local or regional, offers items from photos to handmade baby items to shawls, paintings and clayware
More on Marco
If you're going to Marco Island to see the show, you might consider:
- Going May 17. Go the last hour before 4 p.m. and catch an early dinner at 2Shea's Salty Dog, 599 S Collier Blvd., No. 105 (239-970-5363) , or another nearby spot before returning to see the Alex Weitz Jazz Trio at 5:30 p.m. ($25-$30; see the center's website at marcoislandart.org or call 239-394-4221)
- Combining visits with one to the Marco Island Historical Museum, 180 S. Heathwood Drive, (239-642-1440). You'll learn what Collier County life was like not just decades ago, but millennia ago. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.