Strolling into Kaleisia Tea Lounge this month is a real treat for the senses. The aroma of tea and soothing music welcomes guests the moment they step through the door. The inviting atmosphere is made even better by the art exhibition hosted by Kaleisia, which features the work of former and current USF students Denton Crawford, Catalina Garcia, Daniel Mantilla, Motoko Hunting and Angela Delaplane.
The ambient lighting reveals 14 works on display, situated on walls around couches and tables. The pieces range in size but are relatively smaller in scale, especially in comparison to previous works these artists have exhibited. The show includes paintings, etchings and prints, as well as pieces that use a variety of materials including watercolor, ink, charcoal, pastel and oil paint.
The larger paintings, predominantly by Garcia, draw the eye first with depictions of organic shapes and figures.
“In my work I like to combine graphic images (flat color and simple design) along with expressive brushstrokes,” Garcia said.
Located near the entrance, the painting titled “Purple,” which portrays a side-view of a flower, is fairly limited in its color palette of mostly dark blues, purples and greens. Garcia’s “Untitled” depicts more color, along with more geometric figures – one of which resembles the shape of a lizard.
Crawford’s detailed etchings of the aging individuals from his previous solo show Snowbirds and Sandcastles make an appearance, as does a larger painting modeled after the print “Bored,” also from a previous group exhibition, Mediamerica.
Delaplane’s triptych (three separate pieces which create one work) portrays two faceless figures, seen from behind and joined together with a ribbon. The figures are confronted and separated by a fork in the road before them. The final frame conveys a sense of longing and nostalgia as a single figure continues on the road ahead.
The smaller, more intimate works of Mantilla and Hunting, which are really the highlights of the exhibition, are toward the back of the lounge.
Mantilla presents a total of three works – two ink drawings and one etching that is wonderfully intricate and impressively detailed. The engraving, titled “Conversation (variation No. 1),” is executed entirely with cross-hatching. It depicts a man and a woman engaged in what might be a tense conversation, judging from the sense of accusation in the pointing finger of the female and the outreached arms of the male. The couple is portrayed in the corner of what appears to be a small room with two open windows.
Hunting’s “Watching,” a smaller oil painting, portrays a young Asian girl looking past a large, white curtain with printed flowers. The young girl is accompanied by a female figure, possibly her mother, who remains behind the child while she, too, looks beyond the curtain. Hunting allows her brush strokes to remain evident and fairly rough, yet the image itself is quite clear. The child stares past the edge of the canvas, with whatever event she is witnessing bringing her almost to the point to tears as she and her mother look on. The slightly furrowed brow and motionless stance of the young girl creates a sense of helplessness and sadness within the work as she watches what is beyond the white curtain.
Although this body of work stems from the hands of five different individuals, the pieces work well together, for the most part, due to their similarities in terms of size, intricacy and emotional content. However, Garcia’s paintings seem rather disjointed from the rest of the work because they are larger, more abstract and less narrative.
“I think the strength of our show is the diversity,” said Hunting. “Along with the diverse and distinct subject matters, this show can be (seen as) investigation into the medium as a means to deliver two-dimensional art.”
Kudos to the artists for choosing Kaleisia Tea Lounge as an exhibition space. The pieces incorporate smoothly within this relaxed atmosphere and viewers can freely gaze at the work from a comfortable couch or while taking a breather from studying.
The exhibition will be on display at Kaleisia Tea Lounge until Oct. 22. For more information, visit thetealounge.com. The works on display are available for purchase.