Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat


By F. Lennox Campello

As you may imagine, after having written about DMV area artists for almost three decades, like most art critics, I am usually bombarded with emails, news releases, post cards, letters (yep! old fashion snail mail) and other assorted paraphernalia designed to let me know that an artist is showing somewhere.

And like most people, not just art critics, time management is a delicate issue, and thus over the years I’m fairly sure that I’ve actually only seen about 1% of the shows that I have actually been interested in, or which have caught my attention.

A while back, one of those shows which snared my interest was an embassy show by a “new” – or at least new to me – artist whose work (at least online) seemed to be quite good.

"Mask Circle, oil on canvas with artist-made frame, 42"x54"
“Mask Circle, oil on canvas with artist-made frame, 42″x54”

It wasn’t just that it “looked” quite good because of the subject matter (it did), or that it looked like the artist had some really good painting skills (it did), or even because it was eye catching in a different frequency from most works (it was).

So I decided to pay a visit to this embassy show, and to say that the work floored me is an understatement. In fact, it forced me to put my nose close to the canvas; it forced me to step backwards and far away to see how the tight compositions worked together; and it even tickled me to look around to ensure that I hadn’t been transported to the past, or perhaps to the future of contemporary realism.

"Pursuit," ​oil on canvas with artist-made frame, ​28"x28"
“Pursuit,” ​oil on canvas with artist-made frame, ​28″x28″

Teresa Oaxaca was the artist, and her paintings and etchings were the subject that dazzled my eyes, seduced my imagination, punched the solar plexus of my mind, and filled my curiosity with inquiries about all that revolved around the universe of this artist.

Oaxaca is clearly an artist with formidable painting skills. Her energetic brushwork and fearless attitude towards an aggressive employment of color should be the first chapter in the lesson book to anyone aspiring to pick up a brush and apply anything to a canvas.

Oaxaca’s paintings and prints are at first sight a prism focusing the refracted colors back in time; or are they? To the fantasist, they could also be the work of an artist who has been traveling from a Victorian era to the present; or is it a future time traveler, bathing in the luxuries of the Baroque period, sending us her impressions from her latest voyage to the past?

Whatever the answer, the DMV gets an expanded opportunity to see her work, as her second solo exhibit at The Art League in Alexandria, “Misfits”, will be on view April 6-May 1, 2016.

According to The Art League’s news release, the show “explores the themes of clowns and dolls, human effigies, and painted faces, integrating human emotions and passions with allegorical storytelling. Oaxaca’s style has greatly grown and evolved since her first solo exhibit at The Art League in 2010. She’s interested in breaking the boundaries of traditional realism, and is succeeding through her choice of subject matter, compositional choices, and painterly style.”

"Laughing Queen," oil on canvas with artist-made frame​, 60" x 40"
“Laughing Queen,” oil on canvas with artist-made frame​, 60″ x 40″

I have no idea what her first solo show was about, since I’ve just discovered this painter, but I suspect that it was but a bridge to her most recent work. Make no mistake, this is an artist who is deeply embedded in the world that she depicts through her art; she lives that world.

“My work is about pleasing the eye. I paint light and the way it falls. Simple observation reveals beauty, which I often find in the unconventional. Because of this, I have learned to take particular delight in unusual pairings of subject matter,” she notes.

Oaxaca’s compositions are described as spontaneous. “When a person comes to me, they occupy a space in my mind. Arrangements form from there until I excitedly see and conceive the idea for the piece. The design is both planned and subconscious. For this reason, I surround myself with Victorian and Baroque costumes, bones, and other things in which I find fascinating. I want subject matter to always be at hand, always around me.”

All of Oaxaca’s paintings will be shown within unique frames that the artist designed, built, and painted herself. She feels that the individually designed frames truly complete the one-of-a-kind piece.

Do not miss this show.

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