Spring Showcase

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The Olive Branch, 2011 Cement, Steel, Jute Twine, Canvas, And Paper Mache 31" X 34" X 19" © Vessel Gallery
Spring Showcase
Curated by: Laurie Lee, Lonnie Lee

471 25th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
May 6th, 2011 - June 18th, 2011
Opening: May 6th, 2011 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

East Bay
Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM - 6PM
Oakland Art Murmur, Oakland, Vessel Gallery, Murmurama, artist talk, fiber art, photography photography, figurative, modern, sculpture


S  p  r  i  n  g
S  h  o  w  c  a  s  e

M A Y  6  -  J U N E  1 8


Vessel Gallery Presents Spring Showcase
New Works by Elisa Bongfeldt, Ema, Natalie Cartwright,
Walter James Mansfield, and Cyrus Tilton
and introducing Bryson Bost, Luke Heimbigner, and Mari Marks

O   P   E  N  S    F  R  I D A Y ,  M A Y  6 ,  6 - 9 P M

"Flowers are in full bloom, the air is filled with promise of new growth, particularly after a rain. One can hear the sounds of spring - birds chirping, frogs croaking. Locusts and grasshoppers can make quite a cacophony this time of year. Nature’s cycles are the continuum. Symbols of spring center around newness:  green growth, newly born animals, eggs waiting for baby birds to peck through the shell and so on. Everything is new again. The long winter has passed, and life goes on.  There’s a freshness everywhere. Spring feels different. The energy shifts, and we begin again.

This show is a celebration of our re-opening of the gallery, exhibiting new works by several of Vessel's artists. This show circles the concepts of Spring and the symbolism of fragile transience of life to include rebirth and renewal, nature's new beginnings and hope for the future."
- Lonnie Lee, Curator

Densha Gokko (Girls Run Forming the Line) 28cm x 70 cm detail of painting by Ema Utsumi

"I experienced various occupations from 18 to 25 years old.
I did not like any of them.
I started to make things at the age of 25.

When I was a child, I saw that the nonsensical was mysterious,
looked interesting, and it looked scary.
As an adult, I miss the frequency of the nonsensical one and eagerly search for a glimpse of nonsensical in everything.

I can regain the sensibility of childhood by drawing,
painting, and making things.
I like to tell the story of the free and eternal child age.
" - Ema


Ema Utsumi was born in Osaka, Japan into a long line of artisans. Her grandfather was a revered scholar and poet, her grandmother a celebrated printmaker. Her mother is a tradtional Japanese doll maker, and her father is renowned artist Yuzo Nakano, founder of Kala Art Institute. EMA draws influence from her wide range of family creatives. This life long immersion may have everything to do with the early development of her vision and affinity for rich narrative storytelling in the mediums of painting and fiber art.  There is rich symbolism in every detail of EMA's work, as she may include Japanese characters buried as subtext to support the goings-on in the tale she tells. Her subjects are often surrounded by buried or hidden clues that in the end tell quite another story.  In these latest works, EMA focuses on the expressions of her subjects, as seen in the fiber work "Chorus."  While it is customary in Japan to "mark" the beginnings of different seasons, each season has its color.  Spring receives the color pink, which is the color of the sakura blossom. EMA embraces this symbolism in her narrative paintings; the viewer can see pink sakura blossoms filling the hands of young school girls who frolick about with tender fragile blooms. The streets of the towns and memories of ancestral trains serve as backdrop to girls who play at evening time.  EMA's exaggerated and wonderful narratives take us on a  journey into her sometimes eerie and subtley sinister imagination.

Vessel Gallery presents Natalie Cartwright's porcelain works that capture an evening call from moonlit moths as well as the graceful petals of a fleeting spring day.

Walter James Mansfield continues the pouring lines of his abstract paintings.  Here he reminds us of the activity of cloud imagination - which can be freeing, meditative and relaxing.  Others may see a Lichtenstein-esque approach.  Without fail Mansfield guides the most agile, open, and adventurous to explore his intricate canvases.

The Olive Branch 31" x 34" x 19" detail of sculpture by Cyrus Tilton

Cyrus Tilton's newest works return to animal subjects. "The Olive Branch" promises to simultaneously provoke and puzzle the viewer. A goat carries a peace offering, however a wasp's nest dangles gracefully from the branch.  Does this sculpture include symbolism that relates to Western religion, possibly the internal workers and hierarchy and religious orders of men and women who tend the flock and strive for perfection?  The idea of gathering is revealed, but a gathering or offering of what? Tilton strategically sets us up to decipher and ponder our own answer.


Vessel Gallery includes in our Spring Showcase a sneak preview of two emerging artists:  Bryson Bost and Luke Heimbigner. Bost's pen and ink drawings are like a walk into an intricate, meditative, architectural garden.  Heimbigner is a bronze sculptor who works on several highly revered artist's works by day; by night he dedicates time to his own artworks, which are sure to delight the abstract naturalists in all.  Vessel Gallery is excited to exhibit encaustic paintings by Mari Marks a most dedicated and hard-working artist who has exhibited widely throughout the United States. Marks' use of graphite with beeswax creates effects reminiscent of watercolor washes that undulate delicately and subtly. We look forward to bringing forth more works from these three artists.