Fantasies, Phantasms and Fairy Tales at Corey Helford Gallery
written by Jennifer Susan Jones
On Saturday, July 16th, Corey Helford Gallery opened its giant doors to welcome guests to the opening of a double solo show featuring two well-known and talented female painters exploring the themes of women, animals, and fairy tales. It’s a show sporting contrasts of both theme and color, showcasing a spectrum covering light to dark, lovely to disturbing, with all the rich, naughty flavors in between.
Corey Helford Gallery’s generous 12,000 square foot space provides ample room for a fully immersive summer swim through Camille Rose Garcia’s tunnels of neon-bright surreal symbolism and Jasmine Becket-Griffith’s nuanced, nature-rich, saddish fairy lands.
I can’t recall if I first read the word phantasmagoric in a Poe or Lovecraft short story, but I do recall falling madly in love with it. When you marry that linguistic gem with macabre, you have an apropos neologism comprehensively covering the featured body of work by Camille Rose Garcia. With these works we’re given a sneak peek into a steamy, forbidden bog where glowing cartoons have fused with sultry horrors in never ending, ancient hedonistic rituals. Of her new work, Garcia states: “I’m trying to capture an emotional and psychological landscape where dreams and memory combine to form a personal symbolic language, both unique and universal. I’m interested in the feeling of something beautiful and frightening existing at the same time. Something painful and pleasurable all at once.”
In the flesh, her esoteric, erotic pop surrealist paintings drip with neon-colored, tastefully disturbing blood, drool, sap, and sweat – evoking a sexy juiciness that practically sends viewers skidding across the gallery floor. Garcia’s paintings are glossy and black glittered, ultra-high-end black light posters hanging on the walls of the (now grown up and well-read) sophisticated stoner – a stoner who understands their underlying symbolism but still seeks the occasional teenage head trip.
Opening night was well-attended, and as I made my way through the music-bathed, tattooed and enraptured crowd, I took note of how much we were all enjoying ourselves. For this is a show – from now till its close on August twentieth – that’s very ready for its close up.
In the second half of the gallery, opening night attendees were treated to the gothic fantasy paintings (and presence) of Florida-based artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith. Jasmine was calm and warm as she graciously fielded questions from her fans and posed for pictures. Between the lively attendees and radiant artwork, the energy produced a buoyancy in the room that floated me through the immaculately blended, ornately framed acrylic paintings of the doe-eyed beauties and ultra-realistic adornments that make up “Allusions and Allegories.”
Jasmine’s a wizardess of atmosphere, transforming gallery walls with spells of mystery – each surreal, archetypal image containing symbolism which stretches far beyond face value, depositing a numinous, supernatural energy that spreads its eager tendrils into the minds of her viewers. And every eyelash, wing, leaf, and petal works to elevate Jasmine’s attention to detail to goddess status: in “Allegory of Loss” she depicts a deeply mournful subject, arms curved around a now passed on (pixel – scrambled, “insert your lost loved one here”) companion, her visage so plum full of quiet grief that I expected her leak real tears. And in “Green Goddess” she features a porcelain-skinned pensive maiden bathed in a glorious tangle of all creatures green and small, including two beetles so lifelike, entomophobics best keep their distance.
Becket-Griffith is a full-time free-lance, self-employed artist whose work often features elusive fairies and mermaids which she sees as straddling the human/natural world: they are “faux evolutionary missing-links between man and animal, or between reality and myth, or waking and dream.” Fantasy creatures appeal greatly to Jasmine, who desires more beauty and mystery in the mundane world, and expresses these wishes through the eyes of her subjects, their sad gazes reflecting her own longing for an unattainable, idealistic (yet darkish) wonderland. “A lot of the impetus behind my compulsive painting is simply me wanting to better my own environment by creating something new that I find beautiful, intriguing or enjoyable.”
“Phantasmacabre” and “Allusions and Allegories” are on view at Corey Helford Gallery until August twentieth.
JENNIFER SUSAN JONES is a mixed media artist and online author and art writer for Art and Cake and Beautiful Bizarre magazine. She has worked as a counselor and art therapist, and currently feels great satisfaction in visiting many galleries and artists’ studios to speak intimately with artists about their creative processes as well as what inspires their work. Her position as an art writer has provided her with a platform in which she can promote lesser-known artists while showcasing her passion for finding the words needed to capture the essence of each unique body of work.