Suzanne Sbarge
Mariposa Gallery
Nob Hill

art review ABQ, 2016, Vol 1, p. 9-10

I recently found the Mariposa Gallery where they advertised as “one of the oldest contemporary craft gallery in the county.” The word oldest took my attention, so I decided to visit the gallery to see artworks. When I opened the door and entered into the gallery, I was disappointed little bit because the atmosphere was unlike other galleries I had been visited. It looked like a big gift shop. As I looked closely inside, my first impression started to change.

The gallery has two stories and various kinds of artworks were displayed such as painting, printmaking, clay, sculpture, mixed media, and jewelry. The artworks were grouped by artist, and the two-dimensional artworks were displayed on yellow, red, purple, blue, orange, pink, white, brown, and green walls. Interestingly, artworks and the wall colors were in good harmony and there were over two hundred artworks on display.

I was drawn to Wheels Turning by Suzanne Sbarge. The work is a combination of collage and painting. In the middle of the picture, there are four wheels and a muscular human anatomy on top of a human face.  A bird is flying on the right upper corner. Two wheels were located on left side of the face and other two wheels were on right side. Behind the human face, a contour map was used as a background, and on top of the map border, grasses are drawn.

As laying out the grass field and wheels horizontally and the muscular human anatomy and face vertically, Sbarge made a well-balanced piece. She used dim tone colors and the overall mood of the work is gloomy. The background is horizontally divided into two parts; the grass field and sky. The color of grass field is brownish and the sky color is close to gray. The face looks very pale with no facial expression. The human figure is running on top of the face and looking up to the sky. The human muscular anatomy is depicted with two color tones. The bird is drawn with dark colors. The artist expresses the depressed mood using shapes and color tones. Sbarge used a paper collage technique in it. She glued the face, wheels, human anatomy, bird, and grass field on the panel and painted the sky and grass field. Since she painted them thinly and used thin paper as a collage, it was flat and had no strong texture. The face color tone was much brighter than background color, so the face seemed like protruding and created slight space between the face and the background. Other than that, I could not find any space and volume.

The messages in the painting of the wheels represents persistent repeating, mechanical movement and meaningless thought.  The face represents sorrow and frustration due to confinement to repetitive and mechanical routine. I inferred the human figure and bird symbolizes desire and envy toward freedom. I believe people who live in the contemporary world have these feelings once or more.

Wheels Turning is a small painting but the message is fervent. Sbarge chose the collage images appropriately and arranged them effectively.   Sbarge made many of collage and painting combination in the gallery and her artworks are very interesting and attractive. When you visit the gallery, you will see her other artworks there as well.

The Mariposa Gallery has over two hundred artworks. I was distracted when I viewed the paintings on the wall because too many small pieces were hung around the paintings. They captivated my attention continuously, so it was hard to focus on one artwork. Nevertheless, I recommend that you visit the gallery because the gallery has diverse artworks there.

Soo Hyun Song