When it’s scorching hot and my cheeks burn bright pink, I imagine one thing only: cold water. Down my throat, splashing around my ankles, or rushing over my head as I dive headlong into a cold swimming pool. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I could see my aquatic visions realized in Adelman Fine Art’s latest exhibition, “Water Works.”
When asked about the inspiration for the show, gallery director Nicole Adelman-Brewer spoke with passion.
“Water surrounds us,” she said. “We cannot live without it. We meditate with it, we seek it out to console, inspire and awaken. And we are, of course, a coastal gallery and it resonates with a lot of people.”
Apparently so: The opening night packed in more than 150 people, and patrons continue to visit the show and purchase on a daily basis. This has been the gallery’s most successful exhibition to date, Adelman-Brewer said, and there is talk of doing one like it annually. (Hear San Diego art lovers clapping.)
“Water Works” is predominantly local, with a few international and East Coast artists, including the gallery’s top selling artist, Iris Scott, who brings finger painting and an impressionist sensibility to landscape, figures, street scenes and animals (I personally am fond of “The Diver”).
New Yorker Jennifer Hannaford will have you simultaneously staring and holding your breath with her aquatic imagery. The forensic scientist/painter has an exceptional eye for the contours of water and its interplay with facial features, utilizing both closed eyes and direct gazes for divergent moments of relaxation and alertness. She describes her fascination with what happens below the waterline: “This exchange of events just at the surface and beneath is so powerful. Water for me describes the nature of every individual.”
Capturing precisely how the body moves and lies supine in water, artist Jim Salvati nails summertime freedom in his work “Pool.” Look closely, and you’ll notice the perfectly inserted thread of tension we all feel when we lie on our backs in water, expressed in the girl’s face and body. “Pool” won an award with the Portrait Society of America, based in Tallahassee, Fla., and was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. It’s a must-see work in the show, along with many others.
Local favorite Sarah Stieber brings style and an insuppressible sense of playfulness and joy to shimmering water in works such as “Onward” and “Upward” (just notice the red booties and matching polka-dot scarf). You find yourself wanting to jump on the inflatable sea turtle too and blissfully enjoy the cool water beneath you.
“Whether doing a handstand in neon stockings, gliding on a turtle float, or being led by a sunflower balloon, each painting depicts the experience of internal mindfulness and unrestrained freedom,” Stieber said. She has already sold three originals and has commissions in the works, so if you like her work, jump on it.
There are so many fantastic works to gaze upon, relive past summers and imagine new ones, and wonder over the magic of water - don’t miss this exceptional collection.
Laurie Delk is an avid art historian, holding a master’s degree in art history, with concentrations in the modern and postmodern movements. She has taught classes at Tulane University and has been published with several art publications including Sculpture Magazine and New Orleans Art Review.