Monday, April 26, 2010

New Works by Diane Rudnick Mann, Valerie Nielsen Mendez, Joan Vaupen April 27 - May 22, 2010

TAG Gallery is proud to present new works by Diane Rudnick Mann, Valerie Nielsen Mendez, Joan Vaupen.

April 27 - May 22, 2010

Artists' Reception Saturday May 8, 2010 5 - 8 pm


Pastelist Diane Rudnick Mann is showing meticulously rendered still life paintings at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Art Center.

Pencils, jellybeans, pimento-stuffed olives, and rusty old keys are among the unlikely items that have inspired Mann. "I like to paint everyday objects, something you would walk by and never notice," she explains. "As I paint them, they develop personalities and become something you do notice."

One of her secrets to dramatically rendering commonplace objects is to create high-contrast light and shadows. When Mann sets up a still life to be photographed she generally places black boards behind it, then turns off all the lights in the room except for a floor lamp aimed at the arrangement.

Sometimes the artist doesn't realize the potential of her subject matter until she starts photographing it. Take jelly beans, for instance. They caught her eye in the supermarket, so she brought a few bags home and arranged them in various dishes and jars. Only after she'd photographed and cropped the images did she realize that she had the beginnings of a new series and a new way to challenge the commonplace.

As an artist, Mann is a late starter. A class at UCLA titled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, opened up a whole new world for her. "It was an overnight transition," she explains, "kind of a miracle." Regarding her choice of pastel, she said, "I love the richness, fullness, and depth of colors," she notes. "I also like the look - a look that oil and watercolor doesn't have. And I like using my hand to sculpt things." In addition to these qualities, Mann likes pastel for the control that it allows the artist.

Born in Massachusetts, Diane Rudnick Mann now lives in Los Angeles. She studied drawing at UCLA and at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and has attended workshops with Doug Dawson, Sally Strand, and Gerald Hodges at the Scottsdale Artists' School, in Arizona. Her work has received awards in numerous competitions, and she is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America.


Painter and innovative artist Valerie Nielsen Mendez worked in mixed media, producing images that are both obscured and revealing. She passed away while finishing her last pieces for this exhibit.

Her favorite medium was Plexiglas, painted front and back, sanded, glazed, rubbed, and then layered, one sheet over another, before being attached to a foundation of panel or canvas. The image may be strong and obvious, or essentially obscured by the surface treatment. There are always surprises as the work comes together, and this creates the element of problem solving on multiple levels.

Mendez considered this process akin to navigating life -- we look for clarity, for that "slipping glimpse," that De Kooning referred to, and it's there in places or moments, and then gone again. However, there is a fascination with those times of distraction and obscurity which have their own beauty and worth. These works invite you to take a closer, deeper look at life -- to unveil the meaning of experiences, and to enjoy the process of searching.

This show features two forms of Mendez' artistic interpretation of contemplative communication. One is her traditional use of Plexiglas, and the other is her recent exploration of layers on canvas without the use of Plexi. Her piece "Clear Signs of Life" is one on canvas where she maintained the visual idea of layers through the use of circles.

While some of the paintings in "Final Works" remain unnamed, the omniscient titles of others, like "I can still hear you" and "Conversing with the Infinite" foreshadow the artist's desire to help us all examine what these obscured images reveal for each one of us.


In Joan Vaupen's new experimental work, she continues pouring and dropping watercolor and acrylic paint in and around the surface of paper, moving it with her hands and fingers.

In a review of Vaupen's previous series, critic Betty Ann Brown commented, "In some of her Moving Paint series, the handsome contrast of liquid pigment recalls the mature work of Helen Frankenthaler. Other examples echo the Northern Lights or the depths of the ocean.

Critic Mac McCloud commented, "Vaupen's work reveals a questing artist's spirit. Some of her most intriguing pieces are experimental solutions of acrylic ink and water color floating in water, where colors swirl, sink and interact in chemical ways producing 'chaotic' and unexpected shapes and tones. Very atmospheric, some are mysterious and dark, others bright and dazzlingly organic in form."

Vaupen has studied hanga (Japanese wood block printing) in Japan with Toshi Yoshida, murals in Mexico at the Instituto Allende, graduate work at the University of Washington and holds a MA in Art from CSULA.

She has exhibited in many galleries in the United States and in Fukuoka and Kitakyushu Japan. Exhibitions in Thailand include Bangkok, Burpha University, and Sangkhla.

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