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Local artists' work at new FRANK gallery exhibit explores gender, sexuality and more


The works of artists Shelly Hehenberger, RJ Dobs and Luna Lee Ray were featured at the FRANK Gallery for its January and February exhibit from Jan. 7 to March. 7, 2020. 

From stoneware to illustrations, FRANK Gallery's newest exhibit features local artists with a variety of styles and mediums. 

The exhibit came to FRANK on Feb. 9 and will be available to view, in-person and virtually, until April 3. It features local artists Sasha Bakaric, Holly Fischer, Ippy Patterson and John Rosenthal.

Despite COVID-19, these artists hope their work will bring people in the community together. The themes of the artwork include a focus on gender and sexuality, and they explore topics such as childhood. 

Sasha Bakaris, a member artist at the FRANK, displays her stoneware that draws inspiration both from the challenges of the pandemic and microscopic organisms.

Most of Bakaris' works are diptychs, which are two pieces that form one. Natalie Knox, gallery manager of FRANK, said this style was inspired by the struggles of the pandemic. 

"This style was really new for her, which was kind of inspired by COVID and everything that everyone was going through," Knox said. 

Another artist featured in the FRANK exhibit is photographer John Rosenthal, whose works showcase his own children.

“I was struck by how provisional childhood was," Rosenthal said. "One week your child looks one way and the next week he looks another – they change so rapidly that I wanted to catch the actual physicality of the child and see him as my subject of a physical specimen."

Rosenthal hopes viewers can draw inspiration from different elements of his portraits of children. He said the photos of his daughter and son are different in the way that girls can be more vulnerable to the world. 

"So I photographed her in a certain way that stresses her vulnerability, whereas for my son I stressed his physicality," he said. 

Guest artists Patterson and Fischer are featured alongside Rosenthal and Bakaris. 

Fischer is a full-time professor at Meredith College, teaching ceramics and sculptures while running an art studio of her own. Patterson is an award-winning illustrator and a long-time friend of Rosenthal's. 

The current FRANK exhibition features Patterson’s nude charcoal drawings and Fischer’s large ceramic sculptures. 

Fischer said she created her pieces as a metaphor to express female sexuality.

“I hope that there is a subtle tension that viewers can pick up on between the contrasting elements,” Fisher said. “With each of these sculptures, I want there to be this push and pull in the viewers’ object dynamic. I’m hoping to see that dynamic happen in my sculptures when they pull in the viewers, but then there may be a moment of question and discomfort." 

Despite the different styles and mediums of art, the exhibition still aims to create a fluency between the works of the different artists.

"It's just nice to get out and see something different and learn about local artists and different mediums as well," Knox said. "When I first started working here, I didn’t know what many of these different mediums were and it’s just so interesting to see people come in and ask questions, because we are here to help people learn.”

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