Just inside the gallery's entrance are a pair of dazzling canvases by Patricia Nix, a contemporary American artist known for her preoccupation with floral compositions. Sunflower Fields is a delirious hodgepodge of floral imagery, while Santa Rosa focuses on a single large white rose. Dramatic smears and dribbles of fiery color dominate both works, providing the intensity of oil painting, although the two are identified as hand-embellished giclées; maybe it's the use of this medium on canvas rather than paper that creates the illusion of oil.
I was also smitten by two large, laser-cut aluminum sculptures by Gene Lutz. The wall-mounted pieces are abstractions featuring layers of big curved shapes and obelisks, and Lutz has treated the metal so that sections of highly polished surface contrast with adjacent dull, grainy-textured sections. The pieces are charged with an energy that seems to make them shimmer in the light.
Owner Neil Fisher has assembled an eclectic collection of prints
One mixed-media sculpture is impossible to overlook, partly because it's nearly six feet tall. Kalifornia Kafe (1992), by an artist identified only as Prescott, consists of a 3-D metal cutout of an old-fashioned greasy spoon, surrounded by metal cutouts of surfers, a motorcyclist, hot rodders, and palm trees, all in bright sunny colors, with tubes of neon illuminating the piece from behind.
A final treasure is a sculpture as well, although it's in a medium we hardly associate with sculpture: leather. The Taiwanese artist Chan Liu-Miao has taken a single piece of light-brown leather and fashioned an exquisitely detailed man's head from it. The head and neck flow into an elaborately creased garment, which then spills into an unidentifiable shape anchoring the man.
I have no idea where Minds Eye discovered Chan, but this solitary piece is commanding enough to make me hungry for more of the artist's work in leather, maybe even a one-man show. His work here is a perfect example of what this small but valuable gallery does best: the unexpected.