Bobbie Ann Howell
Resembling bluish-brown tinfoil and viewed from high above the Rocky Mountains, textured surfaces decorate the edges to either side of a string of crop circles. The eerie aerial-view Nevada landscape is just one of many photographed by local artist Bobbie Ann Howell, on display at Nevada Humanities’ new downtown office space. Looking to take a more active role in the Arts District and be more visible to the public it serves, the cultural heritage group moved into Art Square just a few weeks ago. The introductory exhibit is work by Howell, a Nevada Humanities program manager.
Howell: “I have been exploring a number of subjects that surround the Nevada landscape since I was a child; its colors, textures and light have long been a subject for my work. [I’ve been] drawing and looking, photographing intriguing spaces in both the wide open, isolated spaces with vast bright skies, as well as urban collages of gridded landscapes. There are a number of [landscapes] that I continually explore … power lines, aerial landscapes, highways and asphalt — the spaces where the urban expansion seeps into the desert and mountains, the edges of the encroaching expansion upon the fragile and beautiful desert crust.”
Nevada Humanities Program Office Art Square, 1017 S. First St., Suite 190, www.nevadahumanities.org
Blue ethernet wires sinuously penetrate the double-sided profile of a female figure. One visage stares alertly forward, the other side sleeps, and the space inbetween is riddled with Corinthian columns and tech accoutrements. In this piece, as with many of Alexandra Lee’s paintings, there is a battle under way between personal democracy and the subjugation of technological progress.
Lee: “’Are You Awake’ is, like all my paintings, centered on the importance of freedom. I wanted to create a piece about questioning authority and what we see or hear in the news. My infatuation with lines is evident here, and the blue wires represent connection, information, the Internet … they seem to have a life of their own.
“In most of my paintings I will ask for the viewer to pay attention; if they have the patience they may find something they did not see at first. For example, only when you look closely at the top of the canvas do you see a figure sleeping on a mattress. Usually things appear that were completely unplanned. Sometimes, the painting just flows, and other times there is frustration. Honestly, ‘Are You Awake’ started out looking not so good, but I was convicted in my idea. After working diligently and freely, it turned out to be one of my favorites and one of my most creative.”
Common Space Gallery Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont St.
Feetish Spa Parlour
After making all the First Friday rounds, the five-digit dogs are sore and barking. A new shop in the Arts District, Feetish Spa Parlour, focuses on the art of foot care, and offers you the opportunity to soothe and pamper the footsies during your day of gallery-hopping. Hip Victorian décor and vintage anatomical jewelry and photos, created by Andrea Lipomi, turn the tiny foot spa into artsy podiatric oasis.
Lipomi: “Some of my earliest memories of time spent with my Dad — who I take after in a lot of ways — were of the two of us watching TV in our living room in Upstate New York while he massaged my little-kid feet. I was spoiled at an early age, and having my feet pampered as an adult is always a sure way to quiet my anxiety-prone brain.”
Feetish Spa Parlor Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont St., 587-0745 (appointments), feetishspa.com
Help Is on the Way
Emotions jackknife back and forth on the personal coaster of a bipolar personality. Artist Cristina Paulos channels her personal experiences with the condition through a new series of watercolor works in which her cartoon figures illustrate the emotional high and lows and “disjointed realities during a bipolar delusion.”
Paulos: “I have been spending the last year and a half contemplating my common thread with the bipolar community, and now with so much attention and acceptance from our culture, I felt it was time to speak out. The cartoon twins do not represent bipolar, but are actors set on a stage I created for them. The work is used as a self-healing process for myself. Using loose materials such as watercolor and dye, I convey the uncontrollable nature of emotion.
“In the piece ‘Wanna Be Your Dog’ — the title taken from an old Stooges song — I try to show the simple emotions of self-loathing, and of bipolar highs and lows — of how emotion leads you like a dog on a leash.
“The title of the show is named after a ‘help is on the way’ button on an elevator. If you get stuck on the top or bottom, ‘push it’ to be saved.”
Blackbird Studios 1551 S. Commerce St., www.blackbirdstudios.com