Monday, August 29, 2011

Meet the Artist

Patricia Roldan

Patricia Roldan works in a diversity
of media, including digital imagery,
photography, pastels, graphite, acrylic,
styrofoam carvings, found objects
from nature, and liquid metals.

Your paintings are beautiful representation of nature. Why nature in particular?
Nature provides intricate and complex dialogs, each distinctive to its own species, each articulating unique pattern diversity, yet these flora’s blend into the landscape almost invisibly. While living in the Philippines, I fell in love with the tropical life in its rough and native habitat, bringing inexplicable peace and a place of refuge. They each offer unique shapes, sizes, colors, fragrances, etc. In a large group, they impart a menagerie of bravado, but individually, we perceive exclusivity within their species and elements. Each exhibits their own persona, touching us in different ways.

Do you hold a formal degree in the arts?
Yes, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, from Florida Atlantic University.

What careers besides Art have you had?
I am retired from the UnitedStates Air Force (16 years) as an aircraft mechanic, having served in both the Persian War and Persian Conflict.

What is your current involvement in the arts?
In 1999 I Founded “Visual Matters”, Primarily artistic creations business specializing in Tropicalis acrylic paintings and three-dimensional works, using styrofoam and a proprietary poly-based material. I also handle graphic communications, web design, social media integration of the projects. I am the current Program Director at Diaspora Vibe Gallery owned by Rosie Gordon-Wallace.

Within the nature theme, you focus on the many species of tropical flora and fauna. Why tropical?
I explore particularly Caribbean/tropical flora, for their boldness and year-round exuberance. Of particular interest is bringing out their details, exposing their innermost personalities and conversations. We form various relationships with our plants, we tend them, nurture them; we (try to) keep them healthy. In return, they bring pleasure to our sense of vision and smell, bring calmness to our hearts, and joy to those with whom we share them.

Your latest series is a Three Dimensional Series. How do you achieve that effect?
The Lady in Pink Series is my latest endeavour and has taken me into the world of ‘sculptural relief’. This style involves the use of 1/2” thick Styrofoam that is carved and shaped to a thin relief of the image in to produce a 3D effect. The eyes have to be engaged to determine whether it is a painting or a sculpture. In the Lady in Pink – I created imagery of the captivating Banana Flower. Inside the petals only three flowers are sculpted (the rest are painted) yet the effect is completely three dimensional.  

What do you use to create the relief of the petals?
They are made out of a proprietary polymer blend material I have created with experimenting and perfecting this process. The illusion is that the bottom petal is actually real. It is treated with a protective coating to withstand heat and cold and is very sturdy.

Your pictures so closely resemble photographs, how do you achieve that effect?
I see the objects with their intricate details – I see the patterns that each plant builds and how they connect and separate. I am also technical so I see the flora in a mechanical way – and I photograph the plant and frame the picture exactly as I am going to paint it. For example in the Heliconia series– these plants are native to the Caribbean and South Florida – I took several pictures to create each painting.

You have a unique and vivid color scheme and depth.  How do you create your style?
I never use black – for the shadowing – it’s a darker version of the color featured so if in the petal there is a petal wilted – it’s a dark purple. I mix my own colors from the primaries. The four basics; red, yellow, blue and white. I love to create the colors I add and blend until I find an exact match to my photographs… to the plant or flower.

Was there a moment of epiphany that had you decide to become an artist?
My grandparents were all artists and so was my dad. He inspired me in my first career as a mechanic in the Air Force. My dad was with NASA and worked on the Apollo 11 mission.As a child – I was intimidated by paint – I worked with pencils and pastels. I loved to draw peoples’ hands. I would sneak in art books and
draw on my own. I worked with my dad as a commercial artist in Colorado and I was deeply influenced by the diversity of the material I was exposed to, including tools and heavy equipment. My daily routine ranged from post-hole digging for mounting signage to hand lettering roadside billboards on scaffolding in the winter.  I also was one of the last artists in the area who hand cut mylar for silk screening, before it changed over to photographic and digital technology.

What are some recent exhibits wherein your work was featured?
International Cultural Exchange – Somewhere, Nowhere, You Can Live in Paradise, Queen’s Park Gallery, Barbados – 2011; Carib~bean, The Way You Like It - August 2010; International Cultural Exchange - As Far As The Eye Can See, Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, Puerto Rico – March 2010; Williams Island Annual Art Walk – February 2010; Ramble Event, Fairchild’s Botanic Garden – November 2009.

Finally – please share with us a message that you would like to have AT readers “listen to” as a voice of an artist.
I work in a gallery – sadly, many times I see there is no value for arts and since art is selective, personal and everyone’s view on it is different I would want philanthropists to never stop looking to fund to produce works of art. If you do not value the arts you eliminate documentation of civilization – through paintings, sculptures , fabrics and so many other mediums. Painting is an emotional process. If I can not make art – it drives me crazy – I NEED to be an artist!!! I do carpentry – sculpture – design. BUT artists cannot work for free. It’s very difficult to make a living as an artist. Time, support and money is what is needed to support us. If I could create a career path for artists I would envision stipends to create a series of work for corporations or individuals. Devotion and time – those are the true commodities to create a body of work.

In the Spotlight

Passion for the arts began early for Jarett. “I credit my parents for my interest in the arts,” says Levan as he recounts growing up in Miami and having Florida Grand Opera parties in his home. It was his parents who first took him to see Yul Brynner in the “King and I” and to see “Cats”. He frequented iconic art venues in South Florida such as the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the Miracle Theater. As a teenager his leadership in the arts was evident as he headed the Teen Volunteer Organization at the Miami Youth Museum in the former Bakery Center. He asserts that it is important for parents to instill a love for art in kids and he and his wife Dara continue this tradition with their children. He is concerned that many parents are not aware of all the programs (many of them free) that are available to families to expose their children to the arts. He says that the perception is that “I can’t afford the arts….I don’t understand the arts….I’m not creative….and the arts aren’t for me”. It is Levan’s personal mission to dispel this ‘myth’ and he is committed to empowering parents to support their families in cultivating an appreciation for and involvement in the arts. It was a natural transition for Levan to be a staunch art supporter. “Banks are generally not creative,” Jarett smiles as he remarks on BankAtlantic’s unique ‘corporate personality’ which is evident by the creative concepts and campaigns of the bank itself through the years.

BankAtlantic organizes a unique program called “Art in the Workplace”. It is an initiative Levan supports to ensure that there is exposure to art for all employees and their families. Every month the bank brings in various artists to expose employees to an assortment of art disciplines. These programs have included various art workshops, jewelry making classes and musical performances. BankAtlantic even partnered with Young at Art Museum to work with the employee’s children on Bring Your Child to Work Day. Jarett would love to replicate the program and is committed through his chairmanship of the Cultural Foundation of Broward to continue to engage businesses in supporting the arts with such programs.

“Art builds communities,” asserts Levan, “which is why BankAtlantic is committed to the arts.” It makes good business sense as an economic stimulus to invest in the arts. He quotes a 2007 Americans for the Arts study that indicates a 22 to 1 multiplier from monies spent investing in the arts in Broward County to direct expense of patrons. Translated into dollars, this means that a $3 million investment in the Arts yields approximately $66 million in tickets, concessions and merchandising from art and cultural events. In addition, the indirect economic impact of close to $90 million in hotel stays, restaurants, parking and dollars spent in shopping venues within proximity of these art and culture venues and events is signifi cant. As CEO of BankAtlantic, Jarett says, “We write checks, we get involved and we roll up our sleeves”. Since the dramatic decrease in spending for the Arts in public education, BankAtlantic’s commitment to supplanting that is quite evident. As recipients for a matching grant from the Knight Foundation, the bank committed $100,000 for a total of $200,000 for a program called “SmARTS”. The SmARTS program has enabled more than 25,000 children and teens in Dade and Broward County to attend cultural events from bringing busloads to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale to seeing the Wizard of Oz exhibit at the Miami Children’s Museum. They brought a local artist, George Gadson to the schools to create an art project called “Walk in My Shoes” in which school children decorated shoes with personal artifacts and designs reflecting their personalities and life. The program also exposes 3,500 children in the summer SmARTS programs by partnering with various
youth programs and agencies. The Cultural Foundation of Broward, which he chairs, is committed to raising funds and increasing awareness for the arts and culture in Broward County. There has been a 40% decrease in spending in the arts by government entities since 2007 and the foundation is committed to bringing business leaders together to educate, advocate and raise funds for arts in the county.

Despite the dismal economic downturn of the last few years, Levan “would like to credit art institutions for their survivor mentality.” He is proud of venues in Broward that are making investments in the future of Art. “There are lots of exciting projects happening,” says Jarett. Young at Art Children’s Museum is expanding to a renovated 55,000sq ft facility due to open in the Spring of 2012. The Young at Art museum, Levan boasts, is one of only six nationally accredited children’s museums and the only one in Florida. It is the only Gold– LEED Certified children’s museum in Broward County as well. Jarett’s wife, Dara, serves on the board of directors for Young at Art as well as on the board of Funding Arts Broward (FAB!) and the Hollywood Art and Cultural Center Board of Directors. Levan is excited that there are so many museum expansion and renovation projects in the works in Broward County. In addition to Young at Art’s expansion, the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale is opening a new art school at the historic South Side School; the Broward Center is gearing up for a major renovation and expansion; and the Museum of Discovery and Science is expanding with a new EcoDiscovery Center.

Jarett Levan will continue to work tirelessly to further the conversation and action for the expansion of the arts. “BankAtlantic and our people share the passion,” he asserts. “We wish we could do more…. I wish I could do more and that the bank could do more.” We in the arts world are lucky to have Jarett Levan in such an active capacity leading this vision and pledge.

The Brazilian Influence

Influence on South Florida's Art & Culture Scene

The contribution of Brazilian culture to South Florida goes beyond “Carnaval”. Although famous for extravagant costumes and rhythmic samba, the Brazilian heritage contributes much, much more. So, it comes as no surprise that as one of the largest melting pots in the country, South Florida is home to a wealth of Brazilian creative talent enhancing the landscape of our arts community. 

Performances by the Rhythm Foundation, Brazilian Voices, Brazz Dance Theater, Gil Santos Samba GroupBrazarte Dance Company and others enrich our everyday culture. In the world of art we enjoy Romero Britto, photographer Cesar Barroso, painters such as Naza, Marcos Marin and Isabel Gouveia, to name a few. In film, Inffinito”s Brazilian Film Festival provides the largest window for Brazilian cinema worldwide. In design, turning pieces of furniture into artistic elements of style are Claudio Faria from Ornare and Paulo Bacchi of Artefacto. AND, just as hot as the carnaval costumes, so is the trend of the festive and sumptuous “Rodizio” style Brazilian restaurants we enjoy.