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“We’re striving to create a dominating energy that electrifies our main lobby through a diverse body of work consisting of neon, ceramic art, oil paintings, and color theory studies,” explains The Vendue’s Art Director Emily Curran.

Inviting a diverse group of locally and nationally represented artists, over 20 creators were challenged to create a piece that celebrates all things vibrant and bright for the thematic show, GLOW.

We’re shining a light on four pieces featured in this show. Be sure to stop by The Venue to experience this bright exhibit in all its brilliance.

Damaged Spirit of the African Elephant

Inspired by ancient drawings, Craig Kraft’s research into the universal urge to connect through mark-making lead him to Namibia. “The uniqueness of Nambia is threefold,” he explains, “the presence of the Sans, arguably the oldest indigenous people in the world, the rock art they created, and the wild animals who have inspired it.”

The Sans believed animals were portals into the spiritual world, and when they put paint to rock the animal’s essence was harnessed, opening the spirit portals. Kraft’s use of neon suggests an inner spiritual world much more complex than its outer appearance. “The artwork is my attempt to capture the spirit of the African elephant, which is both tangible and intangible, elusive but recognizable,” he describes.

Buddha Marge

“My work is mostly about the exploration of beauty and the space we make for its contemplation,” explains Tony Chimento. In Buddha Marge, Chimento creates a realistic yet comical take on this contemplation aimed at the overall feeling of meditation. The piece also connects to one of Chimento’s overall messages that “painting itself can be seen as a metaphor for what is best about life.”


Most of Gabriel Lovejoy’s work is created with symbols. At times the meanings are personal, and at times they’re more universal. We asked Lovejoy to explain the symbolism used in Origin:

“The hand represents the blue hand of god. The dove signifies spirit, or the “other” that can’t be physically measured within our identities, and the sparrow stands for the physical and earthly body. The smoke and cloudy structures are taken from sections of the ash plume photographed during the St. Helens eruption in 1980—the year I became aware of self. The philodendron vine is used to reference growth, health, and heart since the leaves are also shaped like hearts. The fabric is taken from the famous Northern Renaissance painter Jan Van Eyck’s headdress in his disputed self-portrait. This portrait has been questioned as to its authenticity as a “self” portrait, so it seemed fitting to include a section of it in my painting about identity. I chose the head covering to draw attention to the human intellect as the primary motivator for identity. The gold rays are great design elements, but they also serve to create emphasis on their origin point and a glow from the growth that follows.

In this piece, I hope to cause one to question their own need for a fully defined self. Is it really necessary to exactly know thyself? Or could these concrete limitations be hindering us from becoming more than we once believed ourselves to be? Could we “glow” if these limiting definitions are removed, or are we “glowing” because of them? These are the types of questions I posed to myself in the process of creating this painting, even if they aren’t answered.”

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Posted in Visual on November 15, 2019 (Issue 44: Fall 2019) by Matt Mill.

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