Artists use the humble crayon in new exhibit at Oxford Arts Alliance
By J. Chambless
'Crayon Forest' by Lele Galer.
By John Chambless
Crayon is probably everyone's first artistic medium, and most of us don't ever progress much further than that.
But no one is immune to the scent of possibility that a freshly opened box of 64 Crayolas can evoke. For “The Crayon Show” at the Oxford Arts Alliance, a nationwide selection of artists has responded to a challenge to work with this most elementary medium. Much of the depth of the exhibition is gleaned from the artist statements under the works, as they describe both the limitations and the discoveries they encountered. The resulting artworks are wonderfully broad and rich, with some dazzlingly good pieces that transcend what you'd think people could create with a crayon.
There's a subtle, quiet loveliness in the three “Sea Poems” by Charles Philip Brooks, which resemble Japanese woodblock prints, with undulating waves and skies that are just right. Scott Eagle, on the other hand, goes big and bold with “Forbidden Love,” which illustrates his story about the love between a bird and a fish. The subtle gradations of color – and the tiny etched details – are best appreciated with close inspection.
Lele Galer's “Crayon Forest” is a fun, fanciful work that uses melted crayons to create the vivid orange tree trunks, and Laurie Lamont Murray gets even looser with “First Graders Melting Crayons on the Radiator.” The accompanying artist's statement explains how this came to be.
Philadelphia artist Ryan Busch has a dizzying doodle gone large (“Rainbow Roads”) and an intriguing abstract (“Yellow Submarine”) that push the boundaries of the medium.
There are works that depict crayons, by Holly Matthews of San Francisco and Anelicia Hannah Brooks of Seattle. Taking the challenge of getting a vibrant color out of crayons, Tennessee artist Cindy Procious has come up with “Lobster Red,” a crustacean portrait that glows with layers of meticulously applied red crayon.
Don't overlook the small still life of pears by Daniel Chow. It has a nearly imperceptible message for you when you get very close.
Among the most striking pieces in the show are the dramatic and perfectly drawn portraits “Aiya 1” and “Aiya 2” by Brian Busch. And there's a semi-abstract nude, “Torso,” by Karen Kaapcke, that has a wonderful sense of movement. In the same vein, “Turn,” by Diane Feissel, captures a figure in blurry mid-motion.
Downingtown artist Sara Detweiler mixes mediums in her dual “Portrait in Crayon” pieces, and Kennett Square artist Wayne Simpson uses crayons in a whimsically evocative way in his sculpture on a stool, “Portrait of the Smoker as a Young Artist.”
If you're inspired by all the works in the show – and you will be – you are invited to draw your own crayon masterpiece on a long paper that's rolled out on a table in the center of the gallery. Take a chance and join the fun.
“The Crayon Show” continues through March 11 at the Oxford Arts Alliance (38 S. Third St., Oxford). Call 610-467-0301 or visit www.oxfordart.org.
To contact Staff Writer John
Chambless, email [email protected].