Artcetera: 3 local artists master medium, style, technique in own ways

April 10, 2011 

  • LOCATION: Four Corners Art Gallery and Fine Framing, 1263-B May River Road, old town Bluffton

    Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays

    Details: 843-757-8185

A crowd of art enthusiasts and a cross section of Bluffton's culturally supportive neighbors gathered on a recent afternoon at the Four Corners Art Gallery in Bluffton. They came to celebrate the opening of "Paper, Paintings & Prints," a distinctly original exhibition of the work of Louanne LaRoche, Danielle DeMers and Susanne Carmack.

The exhibit, a provocative collaborative exhibition by three talented women, goes completely over the mark. Their individual pieces are simply stunning. How exciting it was to take in the variation among the artists in medium, style and technique, as well as their formats, the sizes of the work and their complimentary palettes. An earth-shaking moment occurs when we fully experience the impact of the juxtaposition.

On entering the gallery, we are stopped in our tracks by the abstract painting on the main wall of the smallish gallery by painter and printmaker Susanne Carmack, who lives in Okatie. The piece, "Redrock," is compelling as we take in the details of her use of the many colors of red, the manipulation of surface textures, her blending of graphic and pictorial elements, and the aesthetic collisions in her application technique. Our gaze moves from one visual element, one section of the canvas or one squiggle to another.

Take your time as you move through the gallery to note Carmack's other pieces. Be on particular lookout for "Pistachio."

To the right in the main gallery, the brightly-colored, mixed-medium paintings of Bluffton artist Louanne LaRoche pull us in. The engaging work, filled with the most intriguing subjects, color choices and layered applications of a variety of mediums, are spectacular. She introduces and re-introduces us to Lowcountry neighbors, friendships she made while traveling in Belize, some incredible hound dogs, oysters and oyster roasts, a marching band, competitive swimmers, and even a gathering of Boy Scouts.

LaRoche's smart settings are enhanced by poignant blends of her slightly abstracted settings, themes and motifs. Most of her figures are presented without the details of the face.

"It is so interesting," LaRoche said. "My work has so much to do with gesture, and I feel that I will loose the gesture if I stop and offer too much detail."

Viewers can't miss LaRoche's presentation of emotions and her joy of the process. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon, she's lived in and around Hilton Head Island and Bluffton for close to 30 years.

We found the work of artist and printmaker Danielle DeMers in the main gallery, too, and two floral works will catch your eye on entering. The pieces, "Poppy" and "Flower with Golden Stamens," were done in the most amazing colors toward the most appealing result.

Spend time with DeMers' figurative pieces in watercolor, monotype, monoprint, color etching, pencil and collograph, which line part of the main gallery as well as the second. She treats us to an entire figure, or she may just drop a hint at a part of the figure -- the curve of the back, the crook in an elbow or the position of a foot. A solitary line is often all it takes to elicit the desired response from the viewer.

DeMers also brings her love and mastery of printmaking to Four Corners.

"I think of printmaking as a natural extension of drawing with the added challenge of the intricacies of the craft," said DeMers, as she demonstrated by holding on to certain completed paintings, several awaiting completion, to demonstrate the impact of the process.

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