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Satellite Exhibit

‘Mystical Menagerie’ provides a fantasy circus

October 18, 2015 - JOHN BRANDENBURG, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN

Mystical Menagerie’ provides a fantasy circus

— JOHN BRANDENBURG, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN

 

ART REVIEW

Picture

“Climbing Mountains” by Katie O’Sullivan.[PHOTO PROVIDED]

WORKS BY DIANA J. SMITH, KATIE O’SULLIVAN AND PAUL MEDINA

When: Through Nov. 15. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Fridays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Where: Kasum Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, 1706 NW 16. Closing reception: 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 13. Information: 604-6602, 818-2174 or www.kasum contemporary.com.

“A Mystical Menagerie” sounds like a fantasy circus, and that’s the feeling one gets visiting a show by Diana J. Smith and Katie O’Sullivan at Kasum Contemporary Fine Art Gallery.

Also on view is a satellite show of ceramics by Paul Medina.

Known for acrylics of dogs, Smith takes us into the realm of fantasy with her hand-built, animal-based clay figures, clothed in Celtic robes. Smith’s “Gwenvael the Protector” resembles a pale, pink-nosed dog (or skinny pig), with a fish and crow on its shoulders and a bat on its cap. No less ornate is Smith’s animal-headed “Midir King of the Isle of Falga ” wearing a cage-hat for what looks like a hand-puppet version of itself.

More human-looking is Smith’s “Morgan the Mariner” who has fish on wires sprouting from the almost fern-like vegetation atop his multiple stocking cap. Delightful, too, are smaller works by Smith, many of which bring to mind fantasy chess pieces, like “Taggert ” “Keller” and the wizard-hatted, goosefaced “Gair”

O’Sullivan, a New Jersey native who lived in Florida before moving to Santa Fe, N.M., two years ago, creates her fantasy figurative drawing-acrylic canvases spontaneously. She makes crude or at least rough drawing and painting work for her in her offbeat compositions, which depict bizarre, mythic creatures in limbo-like voids.

A strange orange, flightless bird, with faces incorporated in its body, appears to be looking back at its own tail, in O’Sullivan’s “Take My Hand ” for example. Droopy-eyed, vaguely cat-, goat- and dog-like creatures, seem to be “Climbing Mountains” in another weird, but strangely appealing O’Sullivan painting.

By contrast, veteran Oklahoma City artist Medina at least brings the search for balance, in relation to the world’s resources, to his clay and mixed-media “Balancing Act” series. Winged, mixed-media insects try to cling to and seek sustenance from three wavy, blue-gray ceramic wall wreaths in Medina’s “Circle of Bees” to name a case in point.

Faces, turned heavenward, attempt to keep multiple rocks and vegetables from falling off their foreheads, or an exposed cheek, in four more works by Medina, on wall stands.

The Smith-O’Sullivan exhibit and Medina’s solo satellite show are highly recommended.