SPELLBOUND: New JCA exhibits wow art patrons

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

Flabbergasted is not a word that is usually tossed around by patrons of the arts but it was often used to describe the patrons’ reaction to the work of Gary Chapman and Terry Strickland at the artists’ reception at the Johnson Center for the Arts Thursday night.

Spellbound, enchanting, amazing, unbelievable were just a few other ways the patrons described Chapman’s exhibition titled, “All Over the Place” and Strickland’s “Figuratively Speaking.”

Mack Gibson, past board chair of the Troy Pike Cultural Arts Center, said Chapman and Strickland are so good that there are no words to describe their work.

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“I surely don’t know words to describe these exhibits,” Gibson said. “You have to see them. It is unbelievable what these two artists can do. Their styles are different but their ability to bring life to their work is just simply amazing. Those who don’t see these exhibitions are really going to miss something very special.”

And that was not just the sentiment expressed by the adult patrons who attended the artists’ reception.

Youngsters Nicholas Slobodchikoff and Asher Hagler and his sister Dina, found the artwork fascinating.

Nicholas looked very closely at the artwork, at the detail and the light and shadows. Asher and Dina were fascinated by how the captured expressions told so much about the character of the people in the paintings. “It’s like you know what they are thinking.”

Bill Hopper, board chair, said he and the JCA staff were pleased with the turnout at the artists’ reception and excited to be showing the work of two extremely talented Alabama artists.

“It was very interesting to hear the stories behind their work,” Hopper said. “The story behind Gary Chapman’s “Helmet” project gave me an even greater appreciation of his work. He said we all wear masks at times but have to come to the realization that we must take the masks off and face the circumstances of life.”

Hopper said Strickland’s work is equally fascinating.

“Many of the people in her paintings are family and friends,” he said. “I am intrigued by the story of how she invited people to a party and asked them to come dressed in costume of their alter egos and how she painted them that way. And, the eyes, nobody can paint eyes in a more expressive way.”

Chapman told his audience of his search for meaning and truth and how he found both in his artwork. “Art is giving meaning to my life,” he said.

Strickland said all of her figures tell stories and their stories are about personal relationships and are, therefore, universal.

“I take old stories and translate them into modern stories,” she said.

Chapman’s “All Over the Place” and Strickland’s “Figuratively Speaking” run though April 14 at the Johnson Center for the Arts on East Walnut Street in downtown Troy.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday.