Yoga, sushi, Buddhism – Western civilization is rife with Asian influences.
“We live in the Western world, and we’re grasping on to traditional values,” said Justin Brunelle of Soke Fine Art. “It’s easy to see how Eastern cultures have influenced us, but what have we done to traditional cultures? What impact have we had on those art centers?”
The Minturn gallery is exploring this question with a new exhibit, “Eastern Influence.” An opening reception kicks off Friday at 5:30 p.m. The show introduces Soke’s two newest artists, Linda Brown and Jewel Lauer. Also included for thematic reasons are Pamela Olson and Patti Levey, who’ve both been represented by the gallery for months.
“It’s fascinating,” said Brunelle, speaking about the link between Western and Eastern artistic traditions. “Where are we going with this?”
In recent Asian exhibits around the country, Brunelle has noticed an ongoing fascination with freedom. It’s a natural one, as oppression is still prevalent in some countries such as China.
Edwards-based artist Linda Brown uses Asian fabrics and papers as a jumping-off point, going off in her own direction with furniture and lamps. Her latest and greatest is an elaborate – and enormous – pin cushion, “Those Little Guys,” large enough to accommodate a person or two.
“They just seem to get bigger and bigger,” mused the artist while looking at her work. She’s made a couple of them, each larger than the last. “Some little bomb goes off in my head and I have to do another one.”
Brown has a great affection for the fabrics she works with, and isn’t shy about throwing multiple colors together.
“I think they’re brilliant,” said Brown. “They just speak to me.”
“Linda has a very independent vision,” said Brunelle. “She embodies that freedom, which is perhaps our (Western civilization’s) greatest gift.”
According to Brunelle, where there’s freedom, there’s searching.
Boulder-based artist Jewel Laurer is inspired by a deep reverence for the natural world and indigenous cultures, explained Brunelle. Her mixed-media paintings are layer upon layer of color and mood, the creation of which is a very intricate process for her.
“Layering and taking away paint teaches me to trust my curiosity and participate in the process of nonattachment,” wrote the artist.
“Jewel uses her art to articulate something about the world that she can’t necessarily find words for,” said Brunelle. “The layering and taking away, it’s a physical process for her. In a sense, that’s her searching. We’re all still searching.”
At the reception, those searching for a place to celebrate warmer days will fit right in with those searching for their place in the world. In addition to the artists in attendance, those who turn out will be able to study flower arrangements in the Ikebana tradition.
“We’re doing that in celebration of spring,” said Brunelle. “We’re so excited about it, and Ikebana is the singular focus of the art of flower arrangement. I find it fascinating.”
Which is all very nice, but is only part of the story.
“Ikebana, Ikebana,” said Brunelle, happily rolling the sounds off of his tongue. This reporter’s gut instinct insists he just likes the feel of the word in his mouth. Looking around at Brunelle’s gallery, it’s easy to forgive him. Judging him on Soke, the man has impeccable taste.