Poetry Jackson, Blooming (Inner Garden Series), 2022. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Fresh Look Photography.
By Betsy DiJulio
For a quick, upbeat video preview of The Art of the ViBe 3, I encourage you to follow this link: https://youtu.be/d-Y4YF9H6-M. The overwhelming vibe—if you’ll excuse the expression—among the eight artists is one of pride and gratitude. Pride that their consistent work and passion has taken root and is being noticed, and gratitude for the professional development boost that having their work hand-selected by noted curators and shown by an accredited museum represents.
The ViBe, as most VEER readers are well aware, is an oceanfront enclave in Virginia Beach whose distinctive character and sense of community is a result of the synergy created by artists, artisans, other creatives, and small businesses working in close proximity. Visually recognized for its many murals, an exhibition called “The Art of the ViBe” might suggest a collection of street artists. But, while some of the artists have certainly taken it to the streets, that is only one aspect of their bodies of work.
Diversity, in all its forms, is on view in this exhibition that breathes a certain brand of energy into the downstairs lobbies of what is commonly referred to as The Runnymede Building, but is more accurately Towne Pavilion II. Large and small paintings with saturated color, digital art, and photography hint at the range of creative output associated with the ViBe.
LaJae Essence, aka Poetry Jackson, an artist of color, speaks in the video of the importance of inclusiveness in regard to ethnic diversity. Always sounding a note of hope, one of Jackson’s large brightly colored acrylic paintings is entitled Blooming from her Inner Garden Series. In it, a radiant, dark-skinned young woman sits in the lotus pose in an idyllic landscape of grasses and flowers. The pink bows in her hair create subtle infinity symbols.
Similarly saturated in color, but pulsing with an unsettling energy from his use of expressive line and neon contours, Jorge Saenz’s figurative painting, Hear My Voice, is a statement of women’s empowerment made even more, dare I say, feminine by the inclusion of purple lace applique.
In a kind of non-derivative and possibly unintentional nod to Georgia O’Keefe, Aimee Bruce, known as HIGHONYOURSUPPLY, pairs bones and botanicals in a quartet of images notable for their strong forms and palette of vibrant pastels: raspberry, banana, blueberry, and grape.
Rick Ricketts, a 20-year veteran of the sign industry with a degree in graphic design, is represented by large digital artwork in which human and natural worlds flow in, over, and through each other in dreamy and fantastical sea- and underwater scapes dominated by tones of both cool and warm pthalo and ultramarine blues.
The tiny, meticulous watercolor and graphite paintings of Nicole Gomez read as slices of urban life and oceanside landscapes that draw the viewer closer. Her training at The Illustration Academy in Richmond, in addition to VCU Arts, is especially evident, as her work is as interesting whether viewed as surface design or the illusion of depth.
Kendall Snyder may be best known as the locals’ choice for commissioned pet portraits, but in this exhibition, she is represented by her paintings of undersea life recognizable for their bold dark contours, playful lines, assertive patterns, and deceiving juxtapositions of saturated and neutralized color.
Meagan Reily may be sought after for her photo-documentation of people’s lives in our region, but here you won’t find families in white shirts and jeans sitting on dunes amidst the sea oats. No, Reily, who claims to be “terrified of death,” celebrates life by freezing time in black and white photographs that possess a haunting liminality, seemingly of and not of this world.
Look twice at Seth Lubaton’s large “photograph” of the berry of the beach—the Pungo strawberry—as it is actually an oil painting on canvas. Its expert imbalance—all the strawberries are clustered on the right—works because of the artist’s use of strong blue in the negative space and a bird’s eye view focal point that adheres with textbook precisions to the Rule of Thirds.
In fact, taking a second look is probably good advice for taking in all the work in this show.
WANT TO SEE?
The Art of the ViBe 3
Through August 7
Virginia MOCA Satellite Gallery, Towne Pavilion II