Selena Burk says that her paintings express what she sees, and that her goal as an artist is to share with others the beauty that she finds around her. Selena’s work currently on display at the Anna Bier Gallery is undoubtedly beautiful; however, the rural Darke County resident finds beauty in unique subjects that others might find rundown and dilapidated, a quality that she finds inspiring.
Several of her watercolors illustrating that quality also use a run-down effect, the colors actually running down from the picture created. This charming feature is used masterfully in “Green Door in St. Augustine,” with the title subject framed in purple, Selena’s favorite color subtly integrated into much of her work. Shades of purple accent the deep green foliage framing the door in “Owen’s Porch,” a lovely piece in which an intricate wrought iron railing, another of Selena’s favorite things, communicates delicate strength.
Selena often travels to Savannah, Georgia, where her daughter resides, and where she constantly discovers inspiring subjects, including three charming complementary porches exhibited here. One is an elegantly shabby structure with peeling, chipped paint, the second a simply elegant balcony with wrought iron railing, and the third features stained glass-trimmed windows bathed in purple shadows. Each of these inviting renderings in its own way evokes nostalgia and a sense of longing for times gone by.
A Savannah School of Art and Design shop window displaying diverse images caught Selena’s eye, motivating a multimedia interpretation of the diverse images she encountered which evocatively reproduces all that she perceived, including reflections of Selena’s car as well as the artist herself. Dress Shop I and Dress Shop II depict mannequins and timepieces amid blocks of strategically placed purple, and provide a quite contemporary view of the historically fascinating city. Diversely colored antique bottles were spotted in a Savannah storefront, and became the focus of a delightful work that luminously captures the life in “still life.”
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the far wall where a pair of charming aged trucks reign; painted on one truck’s door are the words “Darlin’s Truck” and “Brisco, Charleen, and the Boys.” If you, like Selena, are an Andy Griffith fan, you will know that this vehicle hauled around a singing group often featured in The Andy Griffith Show, one of the significant artifacts the painter discovered at a North Carolina museum honoring the sheriff of Mayberry. The second image, a full-frontal view of a rusty old truck, sports headlights that sparkle with life in spite of it’s decaying infrastructure.
The exhibit includes a self-portrait of the self-effacing artist, who also loves to cook. Selena, who served as chef on the U.S. Brig Niagara from 2010 until 2013, depicts herself as she worked to feed the crew of 50 seamen three meals per day for four to seven week assignments on the high seas of Lake Erie. Selena’s son Isaiah and his shipmates are also depicted as they haul in a sail on the Niagara, a replica of Commodore Perry’s flagship active during the War of 1812.
Two sculptures included in this exhibit effectively illustrate the inherent creative instincts that motivate Selena’s work. “Arts Bag Lady” might be another kind of self-portrait, made with all kinds of junk including old doorknobs, chicken wire, antique hair jewelry, and the arm from a friend’s doll that survived a devastating house fire. “Lady of Shalott” salutes the Tennyson poem of the same name, as well as the famous 1888 painting by English artist John William Waterhouse. Selena utilizes stained glass, her grandmother’s flowery clip earrings, an English handkerchief, plumbers’ pipe that has acquired a lovely patina, and many other items to create her version of this metaphorical work adding many metaphors of her own.
This incredibly enjoyable exhibit will be in place through Nov. 26. The Anna Bier Gallery, located within Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and prior to performances at the hall. To view the art at other times, contact Anna Bier Gallery Director Marcia Weidner at 937-417-3497.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.