Everyone has their own way of showing their emotions, but for artists, that expression turns into a visual representation that viewers can feel as well.
Longtime Mesa artist Susan Paige sponsored, curated and installed the “Emotions in Art” show to highlight the depth of feeling that art can bring. The show is on display through April 30 at the Downtown Mesa gallery, 101 W. Main St.
“As human beings, we have tons of emotions flowing through us, but as artists, we have the opportunity to express those emotions in our art,” Paige said.
“I also find that art is really in the eye of the beholder because, say a viewer looks at a piece of artwork, I’m always amazed how they react to it. They often have an emotional response to what they’re looking at, and sometimes it’s not even what I intended as an artist, it just affects them in a personal way. The viewer gets something out of it emotionally and the artist gets to express themselves emotionally.”
“Emotions in Art” is one of the largest shows Paige has done, with 12 local artists bringing a wide range of pieces in different mediums, subject matters, styles and sizes.
Artists in the show include Agustin Vargas, Matt Smith, Joy Bezanis, Ludmila Demich, Susan Paige, Dorata Lagida-Ostling, Barry Rosenblatt, Elvie Becker, Joni Anderson, Aveen Toma, Diane Black and Chris Brewer. Among those are two veterans (one of which is Paige’s husband), a recent graduate from the art department at Benedictine University in Chicago, the lead sculptor teacher at the Mesa Art Center, a teacher at the Xico Latin and Indigenous Artists culture center and more.
“These are all accomplished artists, and these are people who have been doing art for many, many years,” Paige said. “It’s a real gamut of artists. I tried to select people from all walks of life because they all have emotional experiences through life and express things differently in the art. So, it’s going to be very eclectic, kind of an all-encompassing show.”
In fact, Paige’s husband, retired Lt. Col. Barry Rosenblatt, is also in the show. He, along with the other veteran artist in “Emotions in Art” started painting seven years ago with the Mesa Art League under the Arizona Art Alliance free classes for veterans program.
Paige said the Art Alliance found that translating their emotions into art helps veterans on an emotional and psychological levels. She said her husband paints landscapes with bright colors that are uplifting to the viewer.
“Through my 20-year military career and my 35-year career in the medical field, I know that by keeping positive, one can scale through anything,” Rosenblatt said about relating his emotions to art.
With the theme of emotion, Paige said she chose artists who are clear in their intentions and the feelings they express through their work. They are all artists she has followed over the years and that she has personally had a strong emotional response to their work.
The show will include portraits, landscapes, abstract, printmaking and sculptures. Paige adds that the show has as wide a range of emotions as it has styles, and it’s not all just somber and sad.
“There’s actually a lot of happy pieces in it. When you say you’re going to do a show on emotion, people right away assume it’s going to be a show that’s going to have a lot of intensity. But there’s actually a lot of playfulness and happiness,” Paige said.
One of the sculptors has flowers and dragons in his pieces. Another artist creates paintings from her emotional, spiritual and psychological interpretation of phrases from famous Catholic saints. Then the portraits portray “the whole gamut” of emotions, from happy to sad, according to Paige, and relay a more intense emotional feeling.
Paige said more people turning to art during the extremely emotional past few years and has seen a change in people who come to the gallery.
“What I’ve seen in the people coming to the gallery, people are really looking to have hope and positivity, and so they see that in the art and the art inspires them and makes them feel good,” she explains. “They talk to us, they spend more time there talking about the art when they come into our studio. I think people are responding in a way that is uplifting.”
Paige usually greets people and talks about the art, but she is also the driving force behind the scenes to make the show happen. She pays rent for the space, comes up with a theme, selects the artists, curates the pieces and installs them all herself.
While her own work is in the show, Paige said she enjoys creating a space for other artists to display their work. One of her passions is helping other artists get their work out there and, throughout her 20-year career in art, she has always made it a point to save a spot for the little guy.
“I actually managed an avant garde gallery in Downtown Phoenix from 1979 to ’83, and all the artists I had were emerging artists in the Phoenix area that couldn’t get into the Scottsdale galleries because they were so competitive,” Paige said. “So, I gave them opportunities to show and, as a result, I got huge turnouts to my shows because I think the public is looking for something different. They want to see what the local artists do.”