Gallery features works by miniature artisans Gross and Araluce
It has often been said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And, in many ways, one may not only find beauty in the works of artists Amy Gross and Rick Araluce. One might also lose themselves in it.
Gross and Araluce, currently exhibiting their creations at Sanibel’s Watson MacRae Gallery in a showcase called “Folk, Fantasy and Outsider Art,” offer their very introspective and thought-provoking artwork. While their hand-crafted sculptures are similar in painstaking detail, each interprets their “miniature worlds” unlike one another.
“After I moved to Florida, I discovered that so many things in nature grow at hysterical speeds — especially plants and bugs,” said Gross, a resident of Delray Beach, Fla. “I like my work to tell a story. On one hand, you realize how things can grow very fast. But on the other hand, I want my artwork to stop that process… to stay frozen in time.”
Gross, who began her career as a textile and surface designer, studied art at Cooper Union and graduated with a degree in painting. However, most of her creations existed only in a “virtual world,” on a computer, until her clients chose to manufacture them.
In 2003, she started creating her own artwork, on flat subjects to begin with. But as her talents and passions grew outward, so did her art.
“I started making shadowboxes,” said Gross, pointing to several examples on display at the gallery. “They’re like tiny, little museums. Everything is safe and clean and tidy.”
Like Gross, Araluce creates his own “other-worldly” artworks. In precise detail, his shadowboxes offer a snapshot of everyday items, often shared in a self-examining light. In one piece, entitled “The Secret Meeting,” a half dozen oil cans sit alone on a workman’s table. But, Araluce suggests provocatively, what might they be talking about?
An award-winning model maker, the Seattle, Wa. based artisan received the prestigious Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant in 2008. More recently, Araluce — returning for the second time to Watson MacRae — has begun to incorporate special effects and small scale mechanisms in his creations.
“I enjoy working with miniatures — they’re small and delicate and manageable. It’s a good balance,” said Araluce. “Recently, I’ve started working on larger, more ambitious projects.”
For an upcoming exhibition, Araluce will introduce a few moving parts — and perhaps some audio and visual elements, too — to his models.
“I definitely want to do something like having a little fan moving… or a television with some images I’ve created on it… or the sound of a door creaking… or voices mumbling,” he said, charged with energy. “I think it will make the experience more meaningful to the viewer.”
However, he is approaching the new concept with a bit of caution.
“The more complex the work becomes, the more things that can go wrong,” Araluce added.
Both artists’ works, they agree, are meant to provoke deeper thought and interpretation by every individual who views it.
“People are sometimes fascinated by things that are growing out of control,” said Gross. “I love the idea that my work looks very real from a distance, but when you get close up you can see the hand-stitching and all of the details that go into it.”
“You can’t stop things from changing,” she added.
Gallery owner Maureen Watson spoke about the similarities and synergies between the two artists, which she stated was completely unintentional as she assembled the lineup for the current show.
“They come from completely different worlds, but when you see their works brought together, they are both capturing little moments in time,” said Watson. “One of them is based in nature, and one of them is based in psychology.”
“Folk, Fantasy and Outsider Art” will hang in the Watson MacRae Gallery, located in The Village Shops at 2340 Periwinkle Way, until Friday, Dec. 31. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 472-3386 or go visit www.WatsonMacRaeGallery.com.