Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Visit to the Portola Art Gallery

I originally went to the Portola Art Gallery to view the featured artist, Alan M. McGee. McGee took photographs of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures at Stanford University. The statues were primarily based on Rodin’s Dante’s Inferno. Being the nerd that I am, I was excited about seeing photographs from the collection –especially when I heard that McGee manipulated lights and shadows in order to get different perspectives of the sculptures. Manipulating a Rodin statue! I was flabbergasted. You can’t change something that an Art God created for all of us to cherish and adore. I wanted to know what McGee was up to, so I went to Menlo Park to investigate.

The Scene: I didn’t realize upon my arrival that the gallery was part of the Allied Artist Guild. There were little shops with crafts, clothing, jewelry, and furniture being sold by the artists. Once I entered, I felt like I was in a Disney cartoon where everything was so cute, perfect, and surrounded by trees. This place was so pretty and cozy that I even saw a wedding reception taking place.

More Specifically, the Scene of Interest: To my surprise, the gallery was compiled with artwork from the other artists in the guild as well. However, my mission was to first observe these McGee photographs, and then I can dilly dally.

Photographs were on walls and a book consisting of each photograph had quotes from Rodin. Inspecting each photograph, I realized that McGee was able to bring to life a Rodin statue in a two-dimensional world.

Pierre de Wissant. Black and White Photography.

His Pierre de Wissant was my favorite.
Who?: Pierre de Wissant was a wealthy burgher* who, along with five other burghers, volunteered to sacrifice himself for the town of Calais, France during the Hundred Years War between England and France.

*definition of burgher: wealthy French guy who lives in a specific town

Back to the Art Piece: The juxtapose between light and dark, smooth and rough, graceful and stiff were clearly defined. The light shining on the statue’s neck becomes the climax while the statue’s clothes are almost monotone in shadow. Accentuating the light on the skin enables one’s eyes to flow with ease over every muscle and vain in the statue’s arms and chest. The light creates a liquid effect that emphasizes motion as if the statue was twisting and contorting itself in a painful pose.

Yes, it was a show that should make Rodin smile. Not only does this show-off a beauty that can only be seen with manipulated light, but it also enhances Rodin’s original intentions of beauty and beast.

More Pictures:

A wall with the book of compiled photographs.

The Finale: Before leaving the gallery, I wanted to see the other displays. The different styles, themes, and mediums made each wall have its own personality. Nancy Wagstaff’s oil paintings of landscapes reminded me of Edward Hopper’s paintings where everything seems to be frozen in a perfect moment in time –the rich colors create a pleasantly calm experience.

Nancy Wagstaff. Blue Bucket, Waiting. Oil on Canvas.

Top: Car Culture. Oil on Canvas.
Bottom: End of the Line. Oil on Canvas.

Across from Wagstaff’s pieces was Barbara Von Haunalter’s watercolor paintings based on her outdoor observations. I enjoyed her use of soft, yet, vibrant colors in Disc Harrow and Rake.

Barbara Von Haunalter in front of her pieces.

Mama Sheep and Babies. Watercolor.

Disc Harrow and Rake. Watercolor.

On another wall were brightly colored acrylic paintings by Doriane Heyman. Her paintings, especially View Through the Trees reminded me of Paul Cezanne’s use of both bright and pastel colors to emphasize lights and shadows.

Doriane Heyman. View Through the Trees. Acrylic.

Pajaro Dunes I. Acrylic.

For More Information:
If you would like to learn more information about the Portola Art Gallery, visit the website:

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