Of Greece and Cats: Slatan Dryke at Kultivate

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Slatan Dryke, April 2021

I love to travel – not that I’ve had much of a chance to do so the last few years (even before the SARS-CoV-2 situation brought a halt to travelling around for just about all of us); I also have a love of cats (I’m the Chief Meal Giver and Dish Washer to two). So when an art exhibition combines both travel and cats, I’m going to hop along to take a look.

In My Greece, My Cats, open at the Kultivate Loft Gallery through most of April 2021, Slatan Dryke presents a personal series of images that document some of his travel to Greece over the years, revealing a place that has become one of his favourites – and introducing some of its feline denizens he came across during his visits.

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Slatan Dryke, April 2021

Slatan is perhaps best known for his in-world sculptures and his digital art, which have been displayed widely across the grid and been a signature part of many collaborative endeavours. His work is oft marked by the use of vibrant colours or deep tones that can give it an almost symphonic depth. However, with My Greece, My Cats, we have a dozen images in monochrome or with a lean into sepia that suggest a lightness of touch and more informal musicality, something totally in keeping with the nature of the country he is representing.

My love of Greece goes back to when I travelled there for the first time more than 40 years ago. My good fortune has been that Greece is a neighbouring country, allowing me to visit so many of its islands where the marrow of its culture and traditions has not changed in centuries.
[But] don’t ask me about the most fashionable locations, because I have never been to them. Ask me about those small islands where the time runs slowly under the shade of a tamarisk tree.

– Slatan Dryke on his love of Greece

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Slatan Dryke, April 2021

One place Slatan particularly fell in love with is the island of Astypalaia, one of the 12 members of the Dodecanese archipelago in the south Aegean Sea, and it is this that he celebrates within this exhibition.

With pieces finished as either photography or processed digital art, Slatan uses the exhibition to reveal the village of Astypalea (or Chora as it climbs one of Astypalaia’s craggy hills to where the imposing bulk of a stone castle sits, commanding a view on all sides. Castle and village are celebrated as a whole in three of the pictures in this exhibition, but so too are more personal aspects of the village and life there: the hand-written chalk menu at a café, the red-roofed barrels of old windmills that match along a street or a quiet place to sit at the water’s edge.

And, of course, there are the cats. As Slatan notes, no Greek village is complete without its local cats, and here he has magnificently captured them – including an endearing look at one cheeky little chappie peeking over a wall to see who dares disturb his rest…

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Slatan Dryke, April 2021

An engaging and charming exhibition that will more than likely have you wanting to visit Astypalaia – I’ve already added it to my itinerary of future visits!

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Anouk Lefavre at Kultivate in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Anouk LeFavre

Now open through most of February at the Kultivate Signature Gallery is an exhibition of Second Life landscape photography by Anouk Lefavre.

There is something intensely fascinating about Anouk’s images. Gently post-processed, they have the look and feel of having been painted. The colours are perhaps a little heavier than watercolours, but are lighter than oils, so presenting her work as sitting between the two in a balance that is in itself captivating.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Anouk LeFavre

More than this, however, the the colours Anouk looks for in her images, together with her framing, means that her pieces are more than images of the places she has records, they are statements of the natural beauty of those places that draws you in. To quote SL photographer Brysen Miller when discussing Anouk’s work:

Truly thought provoking artwork, deep in rich colour tones [and] amazing capture that really make you feel as though you are there. Absolutely brilliant.

All of this is demonstrated in full in the twenty images offered at the Signature Gallery. Nineteen of them are landscape images, with the 20th touching on Anouk’s other focus for photography: avatar studies. All are pieces guaranteed to hold the attention and, with the help of their titles, offer individual narratives that provoke the imagination.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Anouk LeFavre

However, I admit that of all the images presented, I found myself particularly drawn to the two central images, located on the second and upper floors of the gallery.Neatly split into three panels, they offer a form of latter-day triptych, the breaks between the panels offering an almost chapter-like view of each when viewed left-to-right, whilst equally presenting the complete picture / story when viewed as a whole, the divides between their panels barely interrupting the views they offer.

Which is not to say I in any way dismiss the other pieces; far from it – as noted above, all of them have a marvellous visual appeal.  It’s just that the triptych pieces would make for an ideal centrepiece in a home with a suitable fireplace and wall above it, while I am particularly drawn to the tighter focus and presentation of Behind Screen Memories.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Anouk LeFavre

But whether drawn to Anouk’s work because of her use of colour, or for the way she balances land and water in creating a scene or for the way she breathes natural life into an image, this is a selection of pieces that will both please the eye and gladden the mind with thoughts of warmer happier days to come.

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An Edge for art in Second Life

Kultivate The Edge: Tempest Rosca

The Edge is Kultivate Magazine’s gallery space specialising in black-and-white photography exhibitions, generally hosting ensemble art displays by artists responding to calls for artists that are periodically announced by the Kultivate team.

Sunday, January 17th marks the first such exhibition at the gallery for 2021, featuring artists Jessamine2108, Maaddi, Eucalyptus Carroll, Johannes Huntsman, Moora McMillan, Blues Rocker, Tempest Rosca, Jamee Sandalwood, Veruca Tammas, Vita Theas and Myra Wildmist.

Kultivate The Edge: Veruca Tammas
As tends to be the case with ensemble exhibitions, the art is wide-ranging in subject matter, featuring avatar studies, reflections on SL art, landscapes, and more. The majority of the artists are familiar to me, and and individuals whose work I always appreciate seeing – although I admit that both Maaddi and Moora are two artists whose work I cannot recall having previously witnessed – and I admit that I found the three pieces presented by Moora attractive in both their subject matter and presentation; Path Near the Sea in particular.

One of the aspects of monochrome photography I particularly like is the matter in which it can add a depth of life to  a image, often more so than if the image had been produced in colour. In the latter the subtleties within an image can sometimes be overlooked as the eye is drawn to admire the way colours have been used or blended; within a monochrome piece, the use of light and dark, whilst obviously presenting contrasts, tends to allow those subtleties to be gently teased to the fore.

Kultivate The Edge: Jamee Sandalwood

This is certainly the case with the majority of the images here, so much so that singling any out is a little unfair, however, I do admit to fining Jamee’s and Tempest’s pieces to particularly demonstrate this. The central image of Tempest’s trio for example, appears to have been pulled from the physical world; had it been in colour, there is a genuine possibility that even allowing for post-processing, its avatarian origins would be apparent.

The one exception to the general themes offered through this exhibition is from Johannes Huntsman.  John is an artist who never fails to impress as he constantly seeks to broaden both his art and his technique. Here he presents four pieces that he has simply called his Geometric Collection, but which carry within them a strong vein of cubism with a measure of abstraction, making them an engaging selection which – and in difference to my comments above regarding the power of monochrome images – would be as engaging were they in colour; so much so, that I look forward to seeing more of John’s experiments in this style of art.

Kultivate The Edge: Johannes Huntsman

But really, all the artists in this ensemble deserve recognition for the pieces they have selected for this exhibition – as you’ll be able to see for yourself in the coming month, or indeed at the formal opening of the exhibition, which takes place at 13:00 SLT on Sunday, January 17th, within the gallery.

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The art of … well, me, actually!

Kultivate Loft Gallery, January 2021

As a rule, I’m not a great believer in self-promotion, however, I also have to admit to being delighted and honoured to be invited by John Huntsman to present some of my images of the places I’ve visited in SL in the opening exhibition of 2021 for Kultivate Magazine’s Loft Gallery.

As I’ve oft – and genuinely – stated, I do not consider myself as “artist” when compared to the many, many talents of genuine artists who have a genuine talent for bring Second Life and its avatars to life; my work is really attempts at illustrating the places I visit rather than trying to be any form of artistic statement. So, when I receive an invitation such as this, I am genuinely (and quite considerably) honoured and flattered. In  this case, very, very much so, given the calibre of artist who are generally invited to exhibit at the Kultivate galleries.

I’m also not great with opening events – I prefer to keep to the background and patter / putter around where I can’t be notice. However, and all things being equal, I’ll be at the Loft for the opening John and Tempest have arranged, and I hope that you’ll drop by either for the opening event from 12 noon SLT on sunday, January 3rd, or over the next few weeks and have a peek at the images I’ve selected for the exhibition.

Many thanks again to John and Tempest for arrange this exhibition.

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Sisi and Michiel at Kultivate in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Sisi Biedermann

Currently open – for a while longer, at least, given I’m getting to this piece very much on the late side! – are two exhibitions by artists I both appreciate and admire: Michiel Bechir and Sisi Biedermann, who between them present two very different, but equally captivating selections of images for visitors to appreciate and, if they so wish, purchase.

Anyone who is familiar with my coverage of the arts in Second Life knows I am enormously inspired by Sisi’s work, which I categorise as some of the most unique and captivating in Second Life. A  digital mixed-media artist, Sisi’s subject matter tends to be wide-ranging, covering everything from the natural world through in-world settings to the fantastical and even touching on the abstract and the near-surreal. This is enough to make her work attention-holding, displaying as they do a richness of imagination, style and colour.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Sisi Biedermann

However, what, for me, makes Sisi’s work doubly captivating is her ability to layer her pieces such that whilst each is a static piece, it has a sense of being alive; there is something inherently tactile about it that makes you want to run your fingers over it and feel the life within.

All of this is very much on display with her selection of art on display at the Kultivate Signature Gallery. There, spread over the three floors of the gallery space are 24 pieces that richly demonstrate Sisi’s artistry, including a ground-level display of six pieces celebrating her visits to a number of famous cities around the world. These are particularly engaging as the both capture the very essence of landmarks from the places Sisi has visited – The Elizabeth Tower (originally the Clock Tower) of London’s Palace of Westminster, The Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, and New York’s Empire State Building and Chrysler Building (appearing twice) should all be instantly recognisable.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: Sisi Biedermann

An aspect of these six in particular that I found particularly attractive is that five appear to suggest they have been physically etched rather than photo-layered, and the sixth – with Elizabeth Tower in the foreground – having an also embroidered look to it, thus making these pieces particularly organic in their styling.

The remaining two floors of the gallery hold further pieces of Sisi’s work waiting to engage and en trace. All are richly textured and coloured,  inviting the imagination to take flight.

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Michiel Bechir
A short walk (or quick teleport) away is the Kultivate Loft Gallery, where Michiel Bechir is currently exhibiting some 32 pieces of his Second Life landscape art, including several in a panoramic format that truly captures the breadth of the regions they represent, whilst four offer a dip into combining landscape with with avatar studies, featuring a subject in period dress suggestive of a Victorian woman of means on her travels.

What I find attractive in Michiel’s work is the manner in which he brings a location to life through camera placement and use of camera angle, always presenting us with a unique view of a place that brings out its natural beauty. His use of post processing also demonstrates a constrained touch that is just sufficient enough to add an evocative edge to his work without becoming top-heavy.

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Michiel Bechir

For this exhibition, Michiel has taken the opportunity to present his pieces as collections: most of the the display areas between the building’s structural support offer three or four images from the same location – the aforementioned Victorian Lady images, for example, were all captured in Witchwood. Thus, these pieces become more than individual pieces (although they can be purchased as such), but also sets of images that can be purchased and displayed together at home, making them very collectable.

I admit to not being too sure as to how long Sisi and Michiel will remain on display at Kultivate – these were exhibitions that started in September, so I really would recommendation that if they tickle your artistic fancy, you hop over to Kultivate sooner rather than later.

Kultivate Loft Gallery: Michiel Bechir

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Water Haven is rated Moderate.




Intentional Creativity in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

Currently on display at the Kultivate Signature Gallery, curated by Johannes Huntsman, and running through until the end of August 2020, is an exhibition of art from the physical world painted by KismaKSR – or Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling as she is known outside of Second Life.

Defining Kisma isn’t easy, as she is a woman of many talents – artist, published author, curator (notably working with Reiner Schneiber, head curator for various worldwide Biennales), gamer, therapeutic art life coach, immersive 2D / 3D artist, and currently a creativity teacher-in-training! As an artist, she works in a range of mediums including acrylics, watercolours, gouache, pastels, coloured pencils, graphite, texture paste, stencils, and more. 

I paint what I see inside. I love working in art journals, creating altered book art journals, and taking my creations from the page to the canvas… and on occasion from the canvas to the page! My creative journey is based in watercolours but has taken me into so many mediums that I believe I love acrylics the most. 

I love working in layers… lots and lots of layers, distressing paintings, vibrant colourful paintings, collage paintings and sketch paintings. I also work with encaustic wax and fibres, throwing in the making of journals and fibre weaving to create embellished covers. 

– Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

For her exhibition at Kultivate’s Signature gallery, Kisma presents 16 reproductions of her physical world art that fully embody her approach to her subject: all richly expressive, some offering hints of expressionism, others perhaps leaning a little towards surrealism and still others more abstracted in nature. Every piece speak of Kisma’s Intentional Creativity approach to her work: the act of being aware of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and of self, and allowing all of this to inform and shape whatever task is being undertaken – be it making a soup to writing a musical score or – as in this case – producing works of art.

These are pieces that also include subtle cultural undertones to them that can be form in form, style, colour and symbolism. These touches add further depth to Kisma’s work, infusing them with a sense of of humankind’s cultural heritage through the ages – something we tend to too easily lose sight of in the modern age of technology and bustle.

You can find out more about Kisma’s work via her website, and about Intentional Creativity at MUSEA, the Intentional Creativity Foundation.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

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