Gail S. Kotel and DoN were in an art show together in May 2010 at the Riverfront Renaissance Art Center in Millville, NJ. The theme of the show was artwork made with re-cycled window frames. There are so many good reasons to up-cycle found frames from an ecological, sociological and anthropological standpoint but the artist also finds a psychological element to explore.
“My newest direction breaks through the glass and now incorporates broken mirrors as well taking the face apart while holding it together, moving into the figure, creating yet another dimension of tension, moving in front, behind and out from the window.” - Gail S. Kotel artist statement.
The frames are the basis with the portraits divided into panes with elements of the faces fractured by the surface. Some panels lean out of the frame, others remain in place, the paint either translucent from the sunlight streaming in from 20th Street or from the gallery lighting shining out, creates a morphological transformation, too. It isn’t difficult to extrapolate the emotional compartmentalization of the subjects, Gail S. Kotel is also a physical therapist using pilates to help people manage pain.
The hard wood and chains only add to the psychological force behind her work, some of the pieces in the window are heads made of mismatched boxes with an anthropomorphic face or the window panes are exploding out so far they need restraint with plastic. The view from the street is instantly intriguing, the faces aren’t scary, they send a serene vibe with an under-current of the urgency and confusion of modern life.
“But the single pane of glass was not as compelling as multiple panels (like grids for a mural), and thus my love affair with windows was born!!! And as time went on, 4 became 6 and even 16 panes. The complexity of fitting the subject into the panes was of great interest to me. The whole tension of who was looking at whom – viewer or sitter- creates a complex struggle with voyeurism which has become the nature of the work.” Gail S. Kotel artist statement
Giant Steps Picture Framing is such a great artist’s advocate, the space is prime, right off of Rittenhouse Square at 20th and Locust Streets. They have been in business over twenty years offering assistance to art collectors and artists offering high traffic visibility, a friendly staff and sales opportunities not just through the gallery but pop-up shops, too. And they don’t care if you use your own frames to make art, they just want you to make art.
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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