The group exhibition, Transformation: Earth, Water & Wood features recent work by five Momentum artist partners: Mariella Bisson, oil painting with collage; David Ellsworth, wood; Vicki Grant, porcelain and mixed media; Ron Isaacs, trope l’oeil painting on wood; and Ron Layport, wood. New York painter Mariella Bisson turns her attention to our regional waterfalls, depicting dramatic scenes of stone, water, and woods in her signature style. Bisson deftly delineates the sculptural planes of her subjects and often selects scenes that represent metaphors for adaptation and change. In ceramist Vicki Grant’s new series of Botanicalwall tiles, the NC artist explores rich texture through deep carving and beaded embellishments inspired by tree bark. Grant’s latest free-standing totemic sculptures are also featured. Trompe l’oeil master Ron Isaacs refers to his work as being “exactly halfway between sculpture and painting.” His birch plywood constructions, painted with acrylic, often portray the illusion of shirts or dresses (representing the figure) in the midst of a state of metamorphosis into foliage and branches.
Transformation also proudly presents work by two renowned American wood artists, David Ellsworth and Ron Layport. Ellsworth, who recently relocated to the Asheville-area, is a preeminent wood turner with work in 36 museum collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Ellsworth’s aesthetic embraces nature’s irregularities and might be compared to the Japanese principle, wabi-sabi, where anomalies that arise through the process of making add uniqueness and elegance to the work. Ellsworth’s turned work is done on the lathe while the wood is still green, allowing for unusual things to happen as the turned forms cure and dry. Precisely rounded vessels may become oblong and asymmetrical, or even split open—Ellsworth welcomes these effects as part of his creative practice. Some might find it curious that the masterful woodturner’s latest series isn’t turned at all. For hisAscension series,Ellsworth cuts blocks of burled wood into concentric rings, then telescopes them out into dramatic, towering spires. Interestingly, Ron Layport first learned how to turn wood in a class led by David Ellsworth. Over the past 30 years, Layport has established a place among the top wood artists in the world. Layport, a retired advertising director, uses negative space as a design element, carving intricate patterns of wildlife and habitat into the surfaces of his turned vessels. The results are complex relief carvings that maintain the integrity of the original form despite having been completely transformed.