Cornucopia in Edwards
For residents and visitors alike, the Edwards Center is generally a place for shopping, eating and running errands. Although it isn’t known as an art gallery destination, we wrote about Christopher & Co. a few weeks ago, and their unique collection of vintage posters. Just a few doors down from them is the Philinda Gallery.
A fixture in the Edwards Center for almost seven years, the gallery name is an amalgam of owner Phil and Linda Waldbaum’s first names.
Almost every inch of space in the two-entrance gallery is covered with art of some kind, albeit not to everyone’s taste. On the other hand, you are sure to find something to attract your attention.
Possibly the most impressive work you will see is the hand-carved wooden pieces by members of the world-renowned Unika Group. Unika was founded in 1994 in Val Gardena, Italy, and has grown to include more than 60 artisans, many related to one another, and second and third generation wood carvers. The work is often quite realistic, and at other times very symbolic, but always deftly carved and unique. Philinda currently has seven of these extraordinary sculptors on view.
Walter Pancheri’s work, for example, includes two beautifully crafted, draped “fabric” chairs. At first glance they seem to be marble, but they are indeed hand-carved wood. In fact, one of the key features of work by Unika’s artisans is that none of it is done by machine. A government seal on each piece attests to the fact.
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Bruno Walpoth uses common objects as subjects, and his wall-mounted handbag and coat are marvels to behold. Willy Verginer, another Unika artist on view, has carved a charming baby in a sling; it, too, looks more like porcelain than wood.
Not only because of its intriguing subject matter, one particular favorite of mine is “Lacy Bra.” It is, in fact, a skillfully handled wood carving by Egon Stuflesser, which is as thin as fabric and intricate as fine lingerie.
Almost lost among Philinda’s clutter is a carved walnut “Golden Eagle” by Andreas Morodor. Look closely at the eye. It is not glass, or an insert, but rather carved and painted to look life-like.
There are paintings on and along the walls by several artists. One of the most popular among these, perhaps a bit commercialized of late, is Malcolm Farley. His hand- worked giclees are reminiscent of the sports paintings of LeRoy Neiman, and are not for every taste, but there is no doubt as to why he has attained such success. Whether a cowboy or hockey player, Farley’s work exhibits vibrant colors and an exciting dynamic.
An almost whimsical oil painting of cows, by artist Julie Inman, is both attractive and playful. She treats the cows as patterns of black and white, morphing their hides into each other, standing them against a semi-abstract back and foreground. It is an interesting painting of a mundane subject.
Majid Kaahak works in oils and uses a palette knife, laying on thick impasto-like color. In a painting named “Fox Hunt,” the figures of horses and riders are relatively easy to discern, whereas “Mountain in Autumn” requires a little study. In the latter painting, mountains and lake blend into foliage and beg the viewer to extract elements in the canvas to decipher the subject.
In addition to the sculpture and paintings, there are wildlife bronzes, an interesting allegorical piece by up an upcoming sculptor James LaCasse, and several hilarious ceramic dog caricatures by Joe Mariscal.
Rounding out the array is a showcase of wearable art jewelry by Avara Yaron, the daughter of owners Phil and Linda.
Stew Mosberg is a writer and journalist working out of Blue River. He holds a Bachelor of Design degree from the University of Florida, College of Fine Arts and Architecture, is author of two books on design and is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com.