Fine Art

Left of Center’s female-focused ‘Transitions’ emphasizes the unexpected

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“Making a Merkin Great Again” by Diane Bush (with Steve Baskin)
Photo: Steve Marcus

It isn’t unusual for an art gallery to host a female-centered art exhibit during Women’s History Month. But to have an exhibit that goes beyond the surface-level activism of crocheted hats and hashtags, that actually centers the breadth of women’s voices? That’s far less common, which makes Transitions at Left of Center Art Gallery a must-catch before it closes June 1.

“This exhibit gives us all a chance to express what transitions have gone on in our lives,” Left of Center founder and executive director Vicki Richardson says. “People are coming out and expressing themselves in different ways that were hidden before and not talked about. It gives you a chance to say, ‘Here I am. I want you to see that these are concerns of mine and areas that affect me deeply and areas that have changed my whole life.’”

The exhibit also features work by—and is dedicated to—the late Susanne Forestieri, a beloved artist and UNLV professor who died last month.

Having gone through a divorce and the death of her brother, then overcoming breast cancer, gallery curator Marylou Parker says the only way she could cope was through meditation and art. Her painting, “Speaking With the Infinite,” portrays a beautiful young woman in a wedding dress at the fore, with an obscured silhouette in the background. “The woman up front represents all the things in life we think are important—the beauty, the thinness, the getting married to the right guy,” Parker says. “And yet, the piece is really about the figure that you don’t see, the invisible part of us that’s really our strength and who we are.”

Transitions features 12 visual artists and 11 writers, and refers to various course-altering experiences the artists have encountered in their lifetimes. Some works are fun, celebratory and whimsical, like Lolita Develay’s painting of a young millennial taking a selfie, “Rococo Basilisk” (a meta reference to the thought-experiment Roko’s Basilisk). Some celebrate African and Latin cultures. And in other works, artists use the space to address sexual assault.

CSN English professor Erica Vital-Lazare curated this year’s literary artists, whose stories are woven into the exhibit alongside artworks. Some of the texts serendipitously happened to accompany artworks with similar themes, Parker says, while other literary works make statements all their own. “There are so many things in life that are thrust upon us, and that’s what really changes us,” Parker says. “Those are the strongest transitions we make, because it changes who you are, it changes how you think and it changes how you perceive other people.”

Walking through the gallery, each piece becomes its own conversation starter, a way to connect to others through the universal notion of overcoming trauma and change. “I think [change] makes you a more empathetic person,” Parker says. “I think we learn to be better people in the long run if we let it work its magic. Somehow we come through all that grief.”

Transitions Through June 1; Tuesday-Friday, noon-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Opening reception March 16, noon, free. Left of Center Art Gallery, 2207 E. Gowan Road, 702-647-7378.

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