This exhibition by Helen Stanley has been long-awaited. As an artist, her individual style, her keen sense of observation and her love of process have long distinguished her work. She has been widely exhibited in many galleries including the prestigious Paula Anglim Gallery and William Sawyer Gallery in San Francisco and the Susan Cummins Gallery in Mill Valley. She received a Life Work award by the Marin Arts council and was given a retrospective show at the Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, California. In the last several years, she has exhibited continually with the gallery, but was hesitant to take on a one person exhibition due to her commitment to her aging mother, who passed away two years ago.
“Altared States,” a masterful exhibit of sculptural paintings, was inspired by sketches Stanley created while traveling in Greece and in the American Southwest. In both places, she and her husband, the sculptor Rodger Jacobsen, were fascinated by curious shrines and altars they encountered as they passed through the countryside.
“Driving across Northern Greece on narrow, winding roads, we would come around a corner and see shrines that looked like little houses or churches on top of poles,” she recalls. “They contained offerings of different sorts—candles, incense, letters, a wine glass, a book, a toy, odd things. I learned later that they’re called kandylakia, tributes to lives lost and saved. I made many drawings of them.”
From these beginnings, Stanley began to free associate, gathering together objects and memories to “enshrine” the stuff of everyone’s lives. She has a keen and observant eye for ironies and idiosyncrasies. She sees the tender beauty in broken things: eyeglasses, bowls and children’s toys.
The exhibition will showcase many of these shrines as well as the sketchbook of drawings in walnut ink that she worked from. Small works on clayboard and a series paintings depicting the wide variety of weeds in Marin County also give a glimpse into the artist’s keen ability to see the glorious detail present even in things that so often go unnoticed.
See more here.
Exhibition catalog designed by
Marie Dern and Jane Downs
of Red Berry Editions
Essay by Paul Liberatore