Critical Review of Painting: "Nina's Coffee Café" January 31, 2008
Artist: Karen Mazzarella
Reviewer: Joseph Di Bella, Distinguished Professor of Art, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA
When I saw this painting in its prominent location at the national competitive exhibit titled City Life/ Country Life at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts in November 2007, I was caught off-guard by its fragile interplay of solid, balanced design and disruptive imagery.
Here is a piece that projects a certain level of familiarity in its setting and at the same time an uncanny strangeness of the same common elements. The tidy interior of a small town diner, all its component tables and chairs, light fixtures and other accoutrements in their places in a rapid perspectival movement from deep space into the viewer's frontal view, suddenly shifts into a clutter of newspapers with a table and chair off-kilter. The clue behind this departure from the prevailing neatness may be found on the back wall: 'Nina's is like a city bus--just because someone's next to an empty chair, it doesn't mean that chair is unavailable! Please share the tables. Thanks." Yet there is really no one to share tables. One solitary figure sits way in the back, his green shirt and bright red cap provide a complementary hue chord that accentuates the rest of the predominantly middle key composition. It is that one cockeyed table and chair at mid-ground that indicate the interior space was shared at one time, but its inhabitant is departed. The strong vertical form in the foreground, that simulation of a dominant representation of America, looms over everything else. We see the visual analogy between the folds of the figure's drapery and those of the newspapers stacked nearby. Then there is the analogy between the deliberate misalignment of the suspended ceiling lights and the uplifted illuminated torch perched on Liberty's upward extended arm, while her face becomes a cloaked silhouette in darkness. What we get here is a tentative sense of ease that breaks into a locked-in tension of massive to small, extroverted to introverted, looking up to looking down, partially anonymous and partially recognized. Despite the fluid action of edges and planes, and the enlivening accents of saturated colors amid cool and warm neutrals, there is only the hint of impending spring in a vase of budding branches and an exterior view of motionless vehicles. A pervasive stillness, an all-encompassing quietness, and a sense of alienation even within the most common and communal of environments recall similar statements of psychologically charged space in Edward Hopper's work.
The organizers for the 51st Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain used my painting, «OSIO CINEMA, MONTEREY» as their Festival poster in 2006. It was also on the cover of their catalogs, brochures, and postcards.
Over the past few years they have reproduced various paintings for the same purpose - «Cinema» (1963) by George Segal; «Le début du film» (1985) by Miquel Barceló; «The Cinema» (1929) by William Roberts and «New York Movie» (1939) by Edward Hopper. I am indeed humbled and honored to be included in this list.
(St Paul, MN) – It’s a long way, both geographically and artistically, from the year-round lush seaside vistas and crashing waves of the California coastline to the serene, quiet chill of frozen lakes, bare trees, and crystal clear winter skies. Mazzarella and her family arrived in Woodbury, Minnesota this January after nearly three years in Pacific Grove, California. Since their move, Mazzarella has been capturing the beauty of the Twin Cities landscape in oil on canvas; these new works, along with recently completed California paintings, comprise the new exhibition at the Argyle Zebra (AZ) Gallery, running from July 7th – July 30th, 2006 entitled Seascapes to Snowflakes.
Mazzarella has garnered several local and national awards since becoming a full-time artist in 2003: National Oil & Acrylic Painters' Society Best of America! 2005, California Best of Artists and Artisans 2005 Juried Book Series, placement in Elk River Area Arts Alliance “Arts in Harmony,” Central Coast Art Association Juried Exhibitions, and Annual Arts Competitive events in Seaside, CA.
Her first solo show, “In Love with the Bay” was held at the Pacific Grove Art Center last year and drew one of the biggest crowds in the history of the Art Center, which opened in the 1960’s.
Of particular interest this year, the organizers for the 51st Annual 2006 Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain will use Mazzarella’s painting, “Osio Cinema” as their Festival poster and it will also appear on the cover of their catalogs, brochures, and postcards. The Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in Europe, has also featured the work of one of Mazzarella’s artistic heroes, Edward Hopper, as their official poster. The Festival directors found her work through the internet and asked to use her painting since it conveyed, “much of love, much of cinema, and much of the love of cinema.” Mazzarella will be attending the Spanish Festival this October as special guest: the Valladolid directors have generously compensated her with airfare and accommodations during the Festival.
Seascapes to Snowflakes opens Friday, July 7th, 2006 at the AZ Gallery with an opening reception from 7-10pm. The exhibition runs through July 30th, 2006.
Paris Renfroe, a furniture and interior designer, will be exhibiting his work concurrently.Another recent California transplant, his artistic focus lies in simple, minimalist designs which evoke emotion and combine man-made materials with some of nature’s most beautiful resources.
The Argyle Zebra Gallery is located at 308 Prince St, #130 in the Northern Warehouse, St Paul, MN 55101. It is open Thursdays 5pm-9pm, Fridays 12-4pm, 5pm-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 9am-2pm, and always by appointment.
The AZ Gallery’s website: www.theazgallery.org
Valladolid International Film Festival: www.seminci.com.
# # #
Artist deals with a change in the scenery
Patricia Drey Woodbury Bulletin
Published Wednesday, July 12, 2006
When your work is capturing the scenery around you and sharing it with others on a canvas, moving from California to Woodbury will change your product dramatically.
After three years of painting ocean waves, boats in the harbor and sunsets over the beach Mazzarella transitioned quickly to capturing the Minnesota winter.
“When I got here it was kind of a shock because everything was brown, gray and white,” Mazzarella said. “I saw it as a challenge.”
Her husband drove, while she looked for snowy nature scenes in Woodbury to photograph for future paintings, Mazzarella said. She also captured other scenes in and around the cities such as Mickey’s Diner in downtown St. Paul, Nina’s Café in St. Paul, the Landmark Center, the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Red Wing Depot.
Although she hasn’t been here long enough to experience fall, she’s already completed 15 paintings for her show, which also includes paintings from her former home in Pacific Grove, Calif.
Mazzarella has been painting since she was a teenager. Her high school art teacher gave her the keys to the school’s supply closet, telling her to use whatever she needed, she said.
She took her art supplies with her when she joined the U.S. Army at age 18, and often gave her paintings away as gifts.
While serving in Germany, she met her future husband, who was a member of the Air Force. She left the service after a few years, but moved from place-to-place with her husband during his 28-year military career.
Before she decided to become a full-time artist in 2003, she had never considered it as a possibility. Since then, she’s been surprised by the response to her work, she said.
She got accepted for a show in California on her first try, and drew one of the biggest crowds in the history of the art center where her work was displayed. She was part of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society Best of America 2005 exhibit and the California Best of Artists and Artisans 2005 Juried Book Series.
One of her paintings will also be used on the posters and promotional materials for a film festival in Spain, which means she’ll get a two-week trip there.
“When I started in ’03 it was just to see where I could take it,” Mazzarella said. “I’m incredibly humbled and flattered by some of the things that have happened.”
Mazzarella’s show “Seascapes to Snowflakes” will be on display at the Argyle Zebra Gallery at 308 Prince St., No. 130 in St. Paul until July 30. The gallery is open from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment. Also on display will be Woodbury interior designer Paris Renfroe’s work.
NATIONAL OIL AND ACRYLIC PAINTERS' SOCIETY
Osage Beach, Missouri
PACIFIC GROVE, CALIFORNIA ARTIST SELECTED FOR NATIONAL EXHIBIT
The National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society (NOAPS) has selected an original painting by Karen Mazzarella for the Best of America Exhibit 2005. This internationally recognized art exhibition will have a preview showing at the prestigious Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art in Bolivar, Missouri from October 2nd through 21st. Exhibit '05 will then open at Stone Crest Mall, Osage Beach, Missouri from November 6th through 20th.
The Exhibit '05 jury panel has selected 80 paintings from over 600 entries submitted. The awards, which total over $5000, will be presented November 5th during the invitational pre-opening reception honoring patrons and Exhibit '05 artists. ( I won an "Award of Excellence" ).
NOAPS Best of America Exhibit 2005 will be open Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri from 1-4pm at Dunnigan Gallery in Bolivar, and daily 10am-4pm at Stone Crest Mall in Osage Beach.
The Annual Family Art Sunday will be at the Exhibit on November 13th from 1-4pm.
NOAPS is a non-profit corporation organized to promote painters in oil and acrylic media through exhibition and association. For further exhibit and membership information write NOAPS, PO Box 676, Osage Beach, MO 65065.