A.J. Oishi and Thea Schrack emote ‘Tranquility’ in new exhibit
Julie Nester Gallery will host artist reception on May 26
“All roads lead to tranquility base, where the frown on my face disappears…” Styx, 1979
Tranquility is a state of calmness, serenity and peace.
Julie Nester Gallery wants to convey that state of stillness with its new exhibit, aptly named “Tranquility,” which showcases works by pointillist A.J. Oishi and photographer Thea Schrack.
The exhibit opens with a reception, which will be free and open to the public, held during the Park City Gallery Association’s May gallery stroll from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 26, at the Julie Nester Gallery, 1280 Iron Horse Drive.
A.J. Oishi gets to the point
Oishi’s development as an artist began when the economics major’s career had her elbow deep in project management a decade ago.
“I did not do anything artistic until I picked up a paintbrush when I decided to do some art for myself,” the artist told The Park Record during a phone call to Columbus, Ohio. “We bought a home that had some big, bare walls, and I thought I could paint art that my family would like.”
Oishi bought some supplies and sat down at her kitchen table and started painting circles.
“All of my work, from the get go, was circular,” she said. “There was an element of calmness about them, regardless of the color.”
Six weeks into this new hobby, Oishi dipped a pencil into some paint and applied a dot of paint onto a canvas.
“I liked it, so I jumped in full force and decided I would paint a six-foot piece that was full of dots.”
Oishi’s works ultimately end up with abstract bull’s-eyes.
“Early on, as well, my bull’s-eye in the work has signified an individual to me,” Oishi said. “When I do my work, I’m usually thinking of a person or relationships or dynamics and personal growth, and having that all finding its way into this tranquil place. All of my work resonates in this.”
Oishi reached out to a friend in California who is an art consultant.
“I sent her a piece and she told me that I was on to something and wanted to start up a show,” Oishi said. “Within six months of starting to paint, I finished my first collection and shipped it to California and did a show.
“The funny part is I still have a bunch of blank walls. I still can’t fill them.”
The lack of art on her own walls hasn’t discouraged Oishi, nor has it stopped her from creating an array of works that are comprised of calculated dots.
“Many people ask how I can dot this much, and I tell them after 10 years of dotting, I have found that it is very calming to me as long as my colors are right,” she said “So the exhibit title ‘Tranquility’ is fitting.”
In addition to being a pointillist, Oishi considers herself a colorist.
“With each work, I need to make sure my colors are pleasing to the eye, because that’s a big deal for me,” she said. “It doesn’t feel good to me if my colors don’t work together the right way.”
These days, planning color execution is the most difficult thing Oishi faces, which, she says, is different than when she first started creating art.
“My early works, because I was new at this, didn’t always work out in what I had planned,” she said. “I used to create a lot of goofs. They would start off right, but didn’t end up the way I wanted. So, I had to either paint over them or start over.”
Oishi’s works today are usually the result of what she sees in her head.
“The biggest challenge now, however, is not being able to get all the works I want to do done,” she said with a laugh. “I have so many ideas for things I want to do with color and I don’t have enough time to do them.”
For the “Tranquility” exhibit, gallery owner Julie Nester contacted Oishi six weeks ago and asked her to put together a collection.
“I pulled in a good representation of my strong works and then she asked if I could add some more colorful works,” Oishi said. “So I changed up the collection a bit and just ran with it. The items I’m sending to her are pretty spot on with the plan I had for her.”
“I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling, and I know you won’t let me down…” Eagles, 1972
Schrack focuses on tranquil waters
Thea Schrack’s “Sea Glass” is a photographic series that captures the essence of motion, wind and water.
“This is a change of pace for me, because Julie [Nester] has shown my works that combine photography and encaustic pigment since she opened her gallery,” Schrack said during a call from her studio in San Francisco. “The works I will show this time are mat-finished photographs that are mounted on aluminum.”
The finish gives the water, sky and clouds an abstract and flowing look.
“When I first created the works, I liked how they looked,” Schrack said. “They’re crisp. They are deeper and richer in colors.”
The richness is the main difference between these works and Schrack’s encaustic-highlighted photographs.
The encaustic medium mixes beeswax with pigment, which Schrack applied to her mid-career photographic works.
“Deep colors are hard to maintain when you paint them over with encaustics,” she said. “Encaustics tend to mute things, and that worked for me for a long time, because that’s what I liked. But these new pieces seem to be the end of me doing that. I’m getting back into pure photography. And I like it.”
Schrack’s love for photography and art developed when she was attending grade school in Nebraska.
“I went to a country school and they didn’t offer any kind of music, but I could make art and be outside,” she said. “That’s the life I lived as a child and a young adult.”
Schrack’s mother loved taking photographs.
“She took a lot of black and white photos of us all the time, because that’s what she did,” Schrack said with a laugh. “That set the stage for me becoming a visual artist.”
Although Schrack is also getting back into painting, photography is still her No. 1 love.
“Why is it my favorite thing to do? Because it’s so fun,” she said. “I also think the whole world has discovered it through their phones.”
Schrack said she likes the connections photographers create with their subjects.
“It’s a way to dig deeper,” she said. “It’s a way to explore the things you are photographing. That’s something that I’ve come to appreciate.”
Schrack’s subjects usually appear in the natural world.
“I love organic shapes,” she said. “I also don’t get bored working in that environment because everything constantly changes in nature.
“I could never be a studio photographer,” Schrack said. “Working with still lifes would just kill me, because being out in nature where it changes second by second, is what keeps me [going].”
Although Schrack loves photographing the ocean, she prefers to keep her images more generic.
“I like photographing places, without naming where the photos were taken,” she said. “I don’t say, ‘This is Hawaii’ or something like that, because I like to have my pieces focus on the subject, without the viewers having a conceived idea of a piece.
“I just want to transport them to what I’m shooting, without having them to think about flip-flops and shorts. I mean, they can think whatever they want. I just want them to come up with ideas on their own.”
Like Oishi’s art, Schrack’s works emit the “Tranquility” theme, because of the soft look of the colors.
“To be honest, I think I’m becoming bolder as I’m getting older,” Schrack said. “I used to shoot in black and white. Then I went to hand-colored works, which are very muted and soft.”
The artist went full color when the digital camera came onto the scene.
“I still muted the photographs with encaustic paint,” Schrack said. “So, it’s been a slow uphill spiral. So, what you’re seeing now is really the most full-color work I’ve ever done. And I love it.”
“Tranquility,” an exhibit featuring the works of A.J. Oishi and Thea Schrack, will open at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 26, at Julie Nester Gallery, 1280 Iron Horse Drive. For information, visit http://www.julienestergallery.com.
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