Featuring Shari Weschler *Sumo Bunni and Kevin Duris
OPENING EVENT Saturday, December 12th from 5:00-8:00 PM
Coastal Contemporary features new paintings and self portrait photography by artist, curator, small business owner and single mother, Shari Weschler * Sumo Bunni. Also exhibiting a small collection of bronze bunnies by artist and fellow small business owner, Kevin Duris of Duris Studios.
The key action word this year was PIVOT. It is something humans do, some more fluidly than others, but certainly not typically on such a demanding open-ended level. In the unpredictable tangos on home-fronts and externally within careers, we witnessed the world run a collectively challenging parallel course in 2020. We felt for one another, lifted spirits when we could and watched the division of a nation, all while digging into our own quiet isolated realities.
Questioning truth versus illusion took hold of our consciousness. The dream-state, for those gifted with recall, experienced a deeper spiritual connection to the global masses and an unchained universe. Visceral stories playing out behind closed eyelids traded places with live theater. As habitual, normal daily functions peeled away and dissolved, the ‘fortunate ones’ were left with their baseline of creative abilities. Imagination employed as a bolstering and centering in the weakest of spots was both gift and savior. An hour or two spent in a sunlit studio bathed in music, where brushes freely plunged into wild color, allowed strange new emotions to mesh and mold ingredient into haunting or waggish figures. A guard-dog mother supporting three additional humans on her own in a pandemic was grounded and released from her mounting anxieties through painted narratives. Frenetic bodily chaos propelled each painting within an unknowingness for how the landing might unfold, topped off with a slowing down in the details. No explanations are required to interpret the illustrations; they are whatever you bring to her mirrors.
An additional mode of exploration and escapism in a pandemic arrived in the format of iphone self-portraiture. Photography was a large component of Weschler’s studies at MICA in the early 1990s. This platform was a familiar space to fall back on, giving a bigger voice to her Instagram which she manages and curates as an artform itself. A second female artist began transforming Weschler’s figural abstractions into her own dreamy interpretations and sending them back to be shared or simply kept as tokens of friendship and inspiration. This grew into a strong collaborative project across a struggling nation, stitching California to Rhode Island. The raw and manipulated photographs will show in a formal exhibition in 2021.
We are thrilled to include small bronze cast rabbits by guest sculptor and fellow, local business owner Kevin Duris of Duris Studios.
Shari Weschler * Sumo Bunni
Shari Weschler, branded as Sumo Bunni, is a figural narrative painter who exhibits nationally and internationally. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with concentration in painting and art history. While attending MICA she also studied drawing, printmaking and gelatin silver photography.
Weschler's arts related professional experience includes, Studio Assistant for an avant-garde quilting artist, Artist-In-Residence and Elementary Arts Education through her company Artrageous Adventures. Her curatorial experience began in Baltimore in the 1990s for The Ellicott City Theatre Gallery and continued into Rhode Island in 2013 as a partner and curator/gallery director for Coastal Living Gallery in Wickford and Warren RI. She hosted over twelve exhibits a year and was invited as guest juror for The Warwick Museum of Art, Spring Bull Gallery, WAA & PAC. As a Co-Founder of Providence Center for Photographic Arts (PCPA) she co-curated an exhibition of exceptional northeastern female photographers honoring Women’s Month, March of 2017.
Weschler is an owner and the director of Coastal Contemporary Gallery founded May of 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island. CCG represents over thirty national and regional artists with an expanding list of guest artists. She believes strongly in collaboration and building bridges. Exhibitions are rotated on a three-week schedule hosting champagne events each month to honor the art and artists.
Her own artwork has toured globally with the Affordable Art Fairs throughout Europe, Asia and NYC through Retrsopect Galleries and Artzandra Gallerie. She was the featured artist for the sponsor of Affordable Art Fair, Stockholm 2017. Currently, Weschler is represented by An Inclusive World, (COPE) NYC, Woodman Shimko MA, Coastal Contemporary RI, Carver Hill ME, Skye Gallery Providence, RI and has been published in numerous online and print publications.
Kevin Duris of Duris Studios
After completion of my studies of art and marine biology at Roger Williams University in 1995, I spent a few years creating sculpture in metal and stone before finding a new path making jewelry. Learning from other talented jewelers and craftspeople propelled me forward to create Duris Studios which I have been operating for the past ten years designing and fabricating all types of jewelry and wearable art.
Music has always been an outlet of creativity for me functioning as a counterpoint to wrestling three dimensional materials in the physical world. The collaborative nature of music is what fed that part of my soul. As I navigate the COVID era, music has been replaced by a return back to sculpture. Working in soft materials such as wax with less limitations on design and economy of materials is a resurgent and joyful experience. The forms are a reflection of the search for that inner peace. Meditating on a peaceful ambassador of nature…the rabbit seemed appropriate. Leaving the bustling workshop just in time to catch the last hours of daylight and walk on local trails, I found myself noticing the simple, serene nature of the rabbits doing their best just to subsist. It seemed like an appropriate metaphor for what many of us initially were forced to do during the first wave of COVID lockdowns. Being humans and not rabbits of course, our lives do not stay serene or simple. Transforming the image of the peaceful rabbit from a fluid wax carving to a solid bronze object gives it more permanence and invokes the notion of a subtle totem. Reverence to or a desire to become a rabbit are both sentiments that can temporarily let us believe that it is ok to just sit and eat grass.