“Article 16: Selected works by Lisa Schulte” at Porch Gallery Ojai
By Jennifer Susan Jones
on view through October 8th
The sun was unreasonably hot the day folks gathered to attend the reception of Lisa Schulte’s “Article 16” and its guests were feeling it. Instead of inducing an irritable atmosphere, the oppressive heat had an interesting converse effect: it unified the art lovers who had convened at Porch Gallery Ojai, donning a wholesome, down-to-earth demeanor. They chatted and wiped the sweat from their brows, sat on the gallery’s porch and viewed the artwork through the large bay windows, and as the temperatures dipped slightly with the setting sun, the neon in the artwork softened in accord (a shift enacted when gallery manager Lisa Casoni turned down the dials at the bases of each neon and wood sculpture).
In these works, the jagged, sueded brown and beautifully weathered branches of found wood and palm are brought into the artist’s studio, where they are regarded for their potential to accompany an altogether different material – one that is smooth, sleek, and consistent in texture and radiance. Placed in simplified literary terms, “Article 16” is Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ meets Clarke’s ‘2001.’ Also of note, this body of work boasts two attractive identities: the first with a jubilance that reflects the radiance of midday; and an alternate, evening persona that tempers to a romantic glow, wherein surging flickers of cool, curving, and encapsulated candles intrigue passersby.
In these sixteen amberic pieces, the organic has married the fabricated, in a matrimony of mother nature made sinuous fibers coupled with luminous gas-discharge tubes (deemed “liquid fire” in the twenties) expertly altered by the artist’s hands. Here, Schulte, AKA “The Neon Queen,” has frozen time by capturing the frames of an intimate dance in which two disparate mediums have come together in harmony; their differences highlighting the inherent beauty possessed by each. Separate, neon and wood are familiar, commonplace. Unite the two in a technically challenging and sublime composition and what emerges is a noble alien – one whose aura of elegant entanglement coaxes contemplation, subconsciously pushing the metaphor of unity into the hearts and heads of its viewers.
During the reception of “Article 16,” locals in attendance commented on how lovely the sculptures had looked in the windows at night when viewed from the street. One can imagine a neon glow being of particular interest in a town where the sometimes-garish offender is prohibited (save for an “Open” sign displayed at the forefront of a business).
As the night’s artistic merriment progressed, and Ojai residents enjoyed their evening strolls past the gallery, some with their K-9 companions in tow, it became evident that the reception was an overwhelming success; for the draw to stay indoors is strong when air-conditioned quarters are keeping one comfortable. However, in the art community, it is well known that artwork is best viewed in person, and even better in a group of like-minded admirers.
With this exhibition, Schulte aimed to uphold the ideals of harmony and togetherness. And as could be seen by any casual observer, her success was evidenced in the dynamic energy evoked by her work, and in the faces and gestures of the reception attendees that smiled and sweated together at the white, 100-year old Victorian home that has become Ojai’s Porch Gallery.
The Porch Gallery Ojai is located at 310 E. Matilija Street in Ojai, California. “Article 16: Selected works by Lisa Schulte” opened on August 31, 2017, and runs through October 8, 2017.