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February Issue 2005

Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, Features Works by Lewellen Padgett and Travis Conrad Erion

New exhibitions at Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, will present provocative shadowbox constructions by Lewellen Padgett in the exhibit, Incantations and Incarnations, and intriguing oil paintings by Travis Conrad Erion in the exhibit, Symbols of the Soul. Both exhibitions will be on view through Mar. 26, 2005.

Salisbury artist Lewellen Padgett has been most influenced by psychologist Carl Jung's fascination with the shadow, with the negative yet evolution-inspiring aspects of the world. Her focus and perception of the world are reflected in Jung's quote, "In the shadow lies the gold." She contends that people's foci on the negative can be used in positive and creative ways to elicit learning and growing experiences.

Padgett's shadowboxes represent the recovery of unclaimed parts of ourselves that is the key to unlock our creativity. These shadowboxes, created by finding an object that has specific connotations and then drawing together other elements that provoke emotions, thoughts, and desires, are environments of awakenings, of possibilities, of memories, and of dreams often inspired by insignias the artist discovers in symbol books.

As Padgett explains, "Art's natural responsibility should awaken something in you, should awaken a core missing or lost part." She intends for her art to allow people to discover that "they can recover things and go forward;" art should empower others intellectually, emotionally, and/or culturally/socially. Padgett's purpose through her artwork is "not to [create] something pretty to hang on the wall." She explains, "More and more I view my work as contained meditations: some political in nature, some fun, some spiritual... My work expects something of the viewer, some participation, some anxiety, some recognition, some response which floats to the surface as [the viewer] stand[s] facing each piece."

Padgett strives to incorporate and reveal both the shadow and the beauty, to be both soft and controversial through her work. Her artwork "calls upon the viewer to use his or her own mind, to relax into the piece, to meditatively call upon memories, experiences, and dreams in [his or her] own life that may relate to each thoughtfully chosen and placed symbol." She asserts that through "the environments of my shadowboxes, I try to create a room where a visitor can sit with [his or her] own imagination, like an entire hour spent eating one fresh, ripe, juicy fruit."

Padgett has exhibited her artwork throughout North Carolina and Virginia since 1991. Her artwork may be found continually at Fine Frame Gallery and at her own studio, Artemesia Artworks, both in downtown Salisbury. Padgett graduated cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BS in Marketing. She asserts that her degree has made her aware of the possibilities that people can do more.

Through her visual art and through her physical art as a yoga instructor Padgett strives to guide others to reach their ultimate potential and inner-being. As the artist notes, "Helping a person 'uncover' is like making the best piece of art one could make." The artwork displayed at Waterworks Visual Arts Center exemplifies her aspirations for her audience to plunge deeper into the shadows and emerge bathed in golden light.

Travis Conrad Erion of Loveland, CO, combines the realistic manner of common, everyday items with an arrangement of objects that poses a narrative full of humor, wit, and social commentary in his still life paintings. Gerrit Henry, noted poet and art critic for Art in America and Art News, writes of Erion' s work, "...Erion is interested in telling a story - a maxim, an adage, even an allegory of inanimate objects - concerning life in these post - 20th century United States and just how vainglorious and vexatious it can be."

For example, the understated Hook Line & Sinker (2002), with a modern twist on an old saying where a cell phone lies entangled, comments on American's love/hate relationship with their cell phones. Erion's seemingly common items present an old-fashioned morality play loaded with psychological tension. Forbidden Fruit (2002) features three sumptuously shiny apples chained and locked on a barren white table top with the key just about to fall off the table - desire so close, just out of reach and very possibly gone forever. The titles, like the still lifes, describe what is observed, but much is left unsaid.

Before most of the pieces were painted, Erion devised a list of 300 possible titles or scenes. At first glance, the viewer sees the objects meticulously rendered and nods amusingly at the title, or that which is said. However, on second thought the viewer becomes involved, entering into the scene. The viewer delves beneath the surface into the scene being enacted where meaning and objects provocatively change themselves, that which is unsaid. It is in this negotiation that the viewer recognizes him or herself in someone else's scene.

Erion has apprenticed under the sculptor Fritz White and studied painting with Richard Schmid. He has studied and been inspired by the masters Vermeer and Rembrandt, while contemporary realists Claudio Bravo and Wayne Thiebaud provided a way to his own style. Erion's most recent solo exhibitions include the Schacknow Museum of Fine Art in Florida and Gallery East in Colorado. He has exhibited in numerous group shows, including the North Bennington Center for the Arts Invitational in Vermont. His many public and private collections include the Hyatt Hotel in Colorado and the Museum of Ella Caruthers in Missouri.*

The All Rowan County High Schools Exhibition is also currently featured in the Young People's Gallery. It will remain on display through Feb. 12, 2005.

Travis Conrad Erion is represented and his information was composed by Katharine T. Carter and Associates of St. Leo, FL, and New York City.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Waterworks Visual Arts Center is funded by individual memberships, corporations and businesses, foundations, the City of Salisbury, Rowan County, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 704/636-1882 or at (www.waterworks.org).

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