The Oller Belair Gallery and Circular in Second Life

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Uleria Caramel

The Oller Belair Art Gallery (follow the path across the covered bridge from the landing point), created and operated by Pencarrow Oller offers a venue for physical world artists to present their work within Second Life. In this, it presents an exhibition space that encompasses art by Pencarrow herself with artist in residence Layachi Ihnen, together with invited artist exhibitions and a monthly competition for physical world artists, the Unicorn Awards competition. For April, the invited artist is Uleria Caramel, whose exhibition Circular opened on April 3rd, 2020.

An abstract expressionist, Uleria works in a number of mediums: oils, glass painting, aquarelles, ceramics and photography. Her art combines colour and contrast, inspired by her own feelings and emotional reactions to the things and the worlds she observes; something that can give her art a particular depth of emotional resonance from observers.

This is particularly true for Circular, her exhibition within the Belair hall of the gallery. This series of works has, as their foundation, the on-going global crisis that is affecting us all, as Uleria noted to me when discussing the exhibition.

I was thinking, what would be this exhibitions theme, and the main thing in my mind has been this corona crisis on this Earth. So my vision started to grow from words like lifeless, rock, space, and round shapes like an Earth shape, the corona virus shape and round shapes in general. But I don’t want to the virus theme into the foreground; if someone sees it, that’s OK; if they see something else, that’s OK as well.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Uleria Caramel

This idea of a theme for the exhibition that is not in and of itself a driving force behind the images presented within it is clearly reflected in the selection process Uleria used for Circular. While the ideas of circles, spheres and round shapes and form that might contain elements suggestive of things like a virus is prevalent in all of the images she offers here, none of the pieces have been created specifically because of the foundational theme for Circular; rather, they are all pre-existing pieces drawn from Uleria’s rich portfolio if past works.

This give Circular a layering of interpretation and emotional depth that is genuinely captivating; some of the pieces through colour, impression and shape offer very clear reflections of virus-oriented themes, from the idea of a viral invasion. Take Cell One, The Origins, and Drifting, for example, with the latter in particular perhaps bringing to mind oxygenated haemoglobin, so vital to aerobic respiration, offering an indelible link to the respiratory nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the resulting Covid-19 disease.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Uleria Caramel

Other pieces are more subtle in their connection to the thematic play of the exhibition, allowing us to view them entirely independently of that theme – although the threads of connection are there. Take the corner collection of mandala-like Kaleido images, together with Liquid Moon, for example.

These stand as pieces that engage the mind without any overt thoughts of illness or the like, yet within them are still thematic echoes: the Kaleido pieces offer both subtle suggestions of viral entities and of the interconnectedness we all share as a part of life that can enable their spread, while Liquid Moon can perhaps bring forth celestial thoughts on the cosmos around us and also suggestive of a single cell – the building block of life. Thus, these – and the other pieces presented here – mean that Circular can be viewed both as a social commentary for the times or purely as a retrospective of Uleria’s remarkable art.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Pencarrow Oller

As noted, the gallery also features exhibitions by Pencarrow, who at the time of my visit was offering a display of abstract, flowing pieces inspired by haikus. Through their use of colour, these are expressive pieces, even without the words of the haiku which inspired them (these should be offered by touching an individual piece, although this was still to be set-up at the time of my visit), with the more slender pieces each suggestive of traditional Japanese scroll paintings, thus adding to the depth of the theme.

Deserving of a more expressive space in which to be shown, Pancarrow’s pieces occupy the Oller hall / stairway leading up to the upper floor of the gallery, where Layachi Ihnen’s always absorbing studies and portraiture can be found. These are presided over by the impressive multi-panel The Infinites, a study that wraps itself around three walls of the exhibition area to form an unfolding story.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Layachi Ihnen

Provided for physical world artists displaying their work in Second Life, the Unicorn Awards is operated through the gallery, offering a prize pot of L$10K with art displayed in the Unicorn Studio hall. Each awards competition is themed, and details  can be obtained by setting foot in the Unicorn Studio or by contacting the gallery’s manager, Airam79 Carami, in-world.

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Men in Focus: April 2020 edition in Second Life


Men In Focus, April 2020

Men in Focus, the gallery owned and sponsored by Men in Motion in support of the Movember Foundation (donations to which are accepted at the entrance to the gallery) and curated by JMB Balogh, will launch its latest ensemble exhibition on April 1st, 2020.

As I’ve previously noted in writing about Men in Focus, it is something of a unique location in that it focuses solely on male avatar studies and art my male artists in Second life, featuring art from invited artists and by members of the Men in Motion group. For this exhibition, the gallery features as 2D guest artists AlCyan, BanagherLinks, Patrick Ireland and Hobbit Zenfold; and 3D artists Reycharles, Harry Cover (ImpossibleIsNotFrench), Mistero Hifeng and Luc Lameth.

Men In Focus: Patrick Ireland

The range of art offered is once again impressive, each of the 2D artists utilising rich styles and approaches. On the ground floor, Patrick Ireland offers a fabulous series of images that run from self-portraits through social commentary and historical settings to provocative pokes at our imaginations, and reflections of popular culture, all wrapped within pieces that carry their own stories.

On the floor above, Hobbit Zenfold – an artist I’ve not previously encountered – offers a range of pieces that might be more closely focused as self-portraits, but which are equally rich in narrative, with several offering a fantasy or fashion element to them. A link in the form of face paint from both Hobbit and Patrick coincidentally flows between their individual exhibit spaces, the pieces containing it also offering an echo of cinematic wickedness.

Men in Focus, April 2020: Hobbit Zenfold

Above Hobbit, on the next two floors, AlCyan and BanagherLinks offer expressions of their Second Lives as avatars and photographers, each constraining his display to colour images that have depth and narrative before they in turn give way to pieces by members of Men in Motion on the upper floors of the gallery.

Spread between the floors are the 3D pieces by Harry, Mistero, Reycharles and Luc Lameth – the latter of whom I’ve also not previously encountered, and I found his Autumn Fairies selection a unique and charming turn in presenting fae folk (whom are so often presented in the female form), while his Shaolin Buddy (a play on Buddha) figurines are utterly charming – as is Harry Cover’s Nuts and Bolts Band.

Men in Focus, April 2020: Luc Lameth

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, and Men in Focus is raising awareness of the disease, including how to self-test for possible signs of the disease through s series of information boards at the gallery’s landing space. Given that testicular cancer tends to be very prevalent among men of younger age ranges than we perhaps tend to associated with cancer (15-49 being the common age range), these boards are very much worth taking time to read if you are male.

Another excellent exhibition at Men in Focus, carrying with it a focused aim. The formal opening will be held between 18:00-20:00 SLT on April 1st, 2020, although the exhibition is already open for preview.

Men in Focus, April 2020: AlCyan an BanagherLinks

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Zia and Melu at Sisi’s Gallery in Second Life

Sisi Biedermann’s Gallery: Melusina Parkin

I’m reporting this a little late, given that both exhibitions only have a few more days to run, but currently on display in the featured artists sections of Sisi Biedermann’s Gallery are Melusina Parkin and Zia Sophia (Zia Branner), who will be at the gallery until the end of the month, so there really is only a couple of days left in which to see them!

Melusina Parkin really needs no introduction to readers of this blog; I’m an admitted admirer of her work, which I’ve featured in these pages on numerous occasions. Within her space at Sisi’s, she offers Journeys, another utterly engaging take on Second Life, the places it offers and their innate beauty.

Sisi Biedermann’s Gallery: Zia Branner

Melu’s eye for angle, depth, composition and detail always presents chances to see Second Life in a new way and / or light. Rather than focusing on the whole to tell a story, she discovers the part that perhaps utters only a single line: the curve and rise of a paved footpath as it winds between cresting undulations of flowers before it vanishes over a low rise; the silhouette of a lighthouse caught between the branches of a thicket as the Sun dips between the coastal hills beyond; a tree dipping branches into the sea as if testing the temperature of the water…

All these, and the rest of the images in Journeys form whisperings that are just enough for the imagination to create an entire world around them. At the same time, there is a rich impression of openness and space present within each piece that truly gives us room to breathe, to feel a sense freedom – something that in the current climate of having to stay at home and away from the rest of the world, can be refreshing and uplifting.

Sisi Biedermann’s Gallery: Melusina Parkin

Zia Branner is an artist in the physical world who uses paints with acrylics and use a variety of structure material – paste, gel, sand, glue, bandages and paper – together with oil crayons and acrylic ink, to accentuate elements with her pieces. Canvas is her preferred medium, although she also uses wood and paper, and while she has had formal art teaching, she is also autodidact, learning techniques and approaches whilst experimenting with art.

For her exhibition at Sisi’s, Zia offers an impressive portfolio of her art, from sweeping landscapes that encompass coastal scenes and rolling dunes to charcoal-like sketches of flowers and more abstracted pieces that use colour and line to capture the attention and hold the eye.

There is a vitality about each of these pieces, be it as a result of the sweep, turn, and mix of colour in some or the tactile sense of texturing visible in others, that truly brings them to life, perfectly echoing Zia’s view that “making art is rebellion against the finality of mankind”.

Sisi Biedermann’s Gallery: Zia Branner

As always, the floors of the gallery above the featured artists spaces are home to Sisi’s own remarkable and utterly captivating work. Having started painting in acrylics in the early 2000s, Sisi has developed her technique to encompass a range of styles and approaches, from painting to mix media and digital collages to Second Life photography, whilst encompassing a wide range of genres – fantasy, wildlife, portrait, landscape and so on. It is not hyperbole when I say her work is genuinely second-to-none for its sheer beauty and richness of expression.

Located just outside of the gallery is a broad glass-like spiral stairway leading up to the Artists United Gallery, were pieces by the likes of Rage Darkstone, TerraMerhyem, Nils Urqhart, Layachi Ihnen, Milly Sharple and more are offered in a richly eclectic and engaging exhibition that adds further depth to a visit to the gallery.

Sisi Biedermann’s Gallery: Sisi Biedermann

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ArtCare Gallery: new space and new exhibits in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Thus Yootz

After something of a hiatus, Carelyna re-opened her ArtCare Gallery in mid-March to offer an expanded environment for displaying art in Second Life, complete with a featured ensemble exhibition of art that runs through until April 12th, 2020.

The featured exhibition is located on the upper floor of the gallery space, reached by a teleport disk towards the middle of the lower floor. The latter is home to the gallery’s foyer area and landing point, together with a series of exhibition spaces Carelyna has entitled the ArtCare Legacy Collection, celebrating past exhibitions hosted at the gallery.

ArtCare Gallery: MTH63

This lower level presents a marvellously rich variety of art from within and without Second Life. Within the halls can be found 2D and 3D pieces by the likes of Suzie Anderton, Bamboo Barnes, Zia, Branner, CybeleMoon, Lam Erin, Pol Jarvinen, Kimeu Korg, Silas Merlin, Moya Patrick, Agleo Runningbear, and more.

It’s a richly diverse collection featuring landscapes captured from within Second Life, avatar studies, digital mixed-media, pastels and paintings from the physical world, all laid out through the halls in a manner that naturally draws the visit through them, with each artist presented by just enough of their works that the visitor isn’t overwhelmed by the art of display.

ArtCare Gallery: Strimon

On the upper level of the gallery, the featured artists exhibition comprises collections by Devanahousha, Jessamine2108, MTH63, Strimon, Mareea Farasco, Mentat Immelmann, Viktor Savior and Thus Yootz. Here, each artist has an individual hall in which to display their art, allowing them to offer a much broader selection than found for the artists on the lower level.

Like those of the lower lower floor, these displays offer a rich mix of art: digital, Second Life landscapes, image and avatar studies, and physical world paintings and landscapes, the styles of each artist offering a further layer to the distinctiveness of the art to be found within each hall. All deserve equal appreciation, but I confess that I found myself particularly drawn to Thus Yootz’s corner with its impressive selection of 2D pieces that are marvellously processed and finished and displayed with a trio of sculpture trees that are also intensely individual.

ArtCare Gallery: Devanahousha

As noted, the featured artists’ exhibition will run through until April 12th, and both it and the Legacy Collection make for eye-catching visits.

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Pictures in neon in Second Life

Monocle Man Gallery: The Neon Challenge

We set a theme and we go our own ways. We take pictures at any sim in the whole of Second Life for about 2 or 3 weeks, and then at the agreed date, we combine our picture at the Café Gallery.

 – Lynx Luga and Kit Boyd describing their personal photo challenges

Photo challenges are not new to Second Life, but Kit and Lynx, owners and curators of the Monocle Man gallery spaces and hang-out, use them to good effect to capture images in a thematic manner whilst allowing them to jointly see Second Life in a way that might otherwise be missed or taken for granted.

For their latest joint challenge, now on display at the ground-level Monocle Man Café they offer The Neon Challenge: images of Second Life featuring or focused on the use of neon across the grid.

Monocle Man: The Neon Challenge

Neon is very much a part of Second Life; who hasn’t been to a cyberpunk / Bladerunner / sci-fi themed location, and not encountered neon signs, logos, and lighting? Similarly cityscapes oft have neon signage for stores and locations. As such, its not surprising that some of the images in this selection are from such locations – but they are not, as one might perhaps think, in the majority.

Both Lynx and Kit have cast their nets wide, such that while the sci-fi / Bladerunner, etc., elements are present, they mostly offer unique views and subtle hints (Videophone, Cyberpunk Circles). What’s more they are displayed alongside pieces where neon, whilst present, is not seen as the immediate focus. Instead it sits as a part of the complete picture, forming part of the narrative, rather than being the narrative (Neon Doggy, Trailer Park, Busted, Sexy Legs and Neon Girl).

Monocle Man Gallery: The Neon Challenge

Even what might be regarded as the seedier side of neon’s use in adult theme locations and advertising (Sexy Girls, Sexy Neon and Dancing Girls) is framed to offer a story behind the light. Take Dancing Girls in particular; within it lies the the suggestion of a hidden life of wanting being the colour-backed dance of the silhouettes, one that for me brought to mind the lyrics from Elton John’s In Neon.

An engaging exhibition that I believe will be open through the next month.

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The elusiveness of reality in Second Life

Hannington Endowment for the Arts: Gem Preiz – Elusive Reality

Gem Preiz, the master of the fractal image, has opened a new themed exhibition at the Hannington Endowment for the Arts. One of the artists whose work I particularly admire (and who has therefore been reviewed frequently in this blog due to the richness of his art), Gem brings to Elusive Reality another mix of fractal images and thought-provoking context.

The core thrust of this exhibition might be summed up as “the more we as a race know, the less we understand.” Or as Gem notes in the introductory piece at the entrance to Elusive Reality:

Scientific discoveries of the 18th and 19th centuries have enabled us to apprehend more precisely … the secrets of reality.

With the recent discoveries about elementary particles, and the formulation of increasingly complex physical theories, the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries throw us back into doubt, without weakening the insatiable curiosity of researchers. Each discovery raises as many new questions as it solves enigmas, making the material [world] around us an increasingly elusive reality.

Hannington Endowment for the Arts: Gem Preiz – Elusive Reality

At one time, the atom (the existence of which was still a subject of dispute until the early 20th century), was thought to be the single elementary particle – it’s name literally meaning “unable to cut”. It was seen as the building block of matter, the foundation of all that there is. Yet, within a short span of decades, an entire family of elementary particles have been discovered “below” the level of the atom – such as elementary bosons and fundamental fermions (quarks, leptons, antiquarks, and antileptons). These have given rise to an entirely new model of physics – the Standard Model, as well as giving rise to quantum mechanics, whilst at the same time, offering a hint of things yet to be confirmed that lie beyond the Standard Model, such as supersymmetry and offer conjecture about yet-to-be confirmed elementary particles such as the graviton, which might completely revise our understanding of physics.

These theories, ideas, confirmations, questions and conjectures are represented in a series of Gem’s marvellous fractal images. They offer glimpses into a sub-atomic universe, where all of our constructs and monoliths become fragmented into seemingly random formations of shapes and colour. Within these pieces are swarms of objects – some ranging from the hexagonal to the octagonal to the decagonal and possibly beyond, others the spherical. They exist in globs and clouds and extrude themselves as strings or curl around in hints of familiar patterns  – DNA, RNA – without ever actually being so.

Hannington Endowment for the Arts: Gem Preiz – Elusive Reality

From a distance, they may look faintly sci-fi: swarms of asteroids or gaseous clouds floating in space, almost natural in form. Closer up, they become fragmented, breaking into the elemental pieces noted above. Thus, they reflect the changing face of physics – a face which from a distance looks cohesive and whole, but which becomes increasingly fragmented and chaotic as we plumb their depths, as Gem notes, whilst remaining bound together by rules we are just managing to conceive or grasp, even if their nature appears to remain foreign to our complete understanding.

For those familiar with Gem’s work, these pieces, with their almost organic look and textures (be sure to have ALM enabled when viewing this installation) may seem at odds with his more familiar “architectural” images of huge monoliths and giant other-worldly structures. In this the contrast helps serve the idea that we are looking deeper, beyond the organised formality of atoms and into the mystifying world of the sub-atomic. But there is also something of an echo here of Gem’s more natural fractal forms, which itself goes back to some of his earliest installations in SL, such as Cathedral Dreamer, which matched the organic with the more structured. And indeed, the Cathedral Dreamer himself might be located within this installation for those who look, head-in-hands, as if trying to reach his own understanding of the universe of the subatomic.

There is also – if I might suggest – something of a reflection of the current climate of concern present around the globe due to the novel conoravirus outbreak: it’s hard not to see some of the elements in these images as viral strings or clusters, offering a reminder that it is not just in the world of physics where our knowledge and understanding is being challenged…

Hannington Endowment for the Arts: Gem Preiz – Elusive Reality

Elusive Reality is an engaging, captivating installation that intentionally gets the grey matter between the ears working due to both its visual complexity and its underpinning tapestry of meanings and interpretations. Not to be missed.

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