From the Santa Barbara News Press
May 25, 2012
by Josef Woodard
If the everyday household stuff of cutlery, shirts, silver vessels and crackers seem less than worthy of serious artistic reflection and passion, think again. With the two-person show called “Oil & Water,” part of the ongoing series of worthy art shows at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club, Santa Barbara artists Leslie Lewis Sigler and Lily Guild — the former working in oil, the latter working in watercolor and graphite — confer the dignity of their serious artistic skills and attentions on household matters, and to surprisingly meditative and considered ends.
Sigler, whose presence around the local art scene included a show at the Faulkner Gallery (recently reviewed in these pages) is a strong painter specializing in still life canvases of silverware. Guild’s artistic efforts have gone mostly into graphic arts and design, but her impressive work here makes us wish she’d delve into the gallery sphere more often.
Together, this cohesive show basks in self-aware subtlety and delicacy, but also humor and the hypnotic sum effect of multiple small variations. Both artist have settled on highly selective, self-limited themes and supposedly mundane subject matter, and their exacting, understated style of rendering draws our senses inward to a unique artistic space and a rather strangely contemplative state of mind.
On the first wall of the designed artspace of the Tennis Club lobby, Sigler show a series of luminously painted forks, varied in size and style and presented with a whimsical stateliness on small, vertical formatted canvases. More eloquent utensil still life paintings can be found deeper into the exhibition, as well as shimmering espresso vessels of a series she calls “The Ritual” (we assume she’s a caffein affine, turning her vice into art fodder).
Sigler may find her inspiration in the kitchen and dining room silver drawers, and wherever precious silver lurks. Guild’s primary body of work here comes from the closet. She has deftly created a beguiling set, 36 in all, of small images of shirts, in the series she coyly dubs “Lilywhite Shirts.” The shirts pictures, cleanly realized in graphite and watercolor, amount to posed shirt “portraits,” configured on hangers and floating against white voids. With these, Guild captures the literal feel and the dimensionality of the garments, in line, fold, texture, fabric quality, and give.
From quite another part of the house, Guild further demonstrates her calm aplomb with studies of crackers — all manner thereof, for both human and canine consumption. She also lends her cool hand and eye to discrete, porous pieces of toast, sometimes half-eaten.
This consumable subject series might smack of some post-ironic, post Pop Art strategy at work, but Guild manages to sidestep the wink-wink air of novelty. There is a dry, lightly crunchy wit and grace to her art, individually and as a collective, rhythmic whole. She seems committed to the project at hand, without over-thinking or overselling.
For anyone who stops to notice the deceptively quiet art here, a gentle breeze of serendipitous beauty can be sensed blowing through the roon. Who knew the potentially transformative power of shirts and forks?