An Interview with Sally Levie on “Oxygen”

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Oxygen by Sally Levie, on display at the Studio Gallery now until March 28th, draws your breath away with works of botanical beauty previously found only in the nature of Levie’s imagination.The exhibit showcases the stoic progenitors of oxygen: “wooded areas.” Wooded areas have been the primary subject of Levie’s painting for the past 2 years – a fraction of her 40 year long career as an artist.

"Blue Forest"
“Blue Forest”

Levie holds a number of degrees, COA’s and awards such that it’s a wonder she finds the time to hold a brush with all she carries. Oxygen, her first solo show, was christened 6 months ago during an excursion with her husband to Beijing, China. Levie recalls the many Tai Chi practitioners in the Forbidden Palace. She believed that because the Forbidden Palace possess an expanse of 5,000 trees, there exists more oxygen circulates in this part of the smog riddled Beijing than any other. “I just thought it made sense…” Said Levie. “We all know we need Oxygen.” Following Levie’s wise words historically proven true at the conclusion of any prolonged contest of breath-holding, your correspondent was proven as wrong as the child that believes he may hold his breath indefinitely.

Several works of art lined together on the wall adjacent to the entrance were erroneously interpreted as the same forest weathering the seasons. When consulted for confirmation, Levie kindly yet firmly informed your correspondent he was wonderfully incorrect. Levie draws in abstractions, she may take a photo of wooded areas and use the photo or combination of photos as her launch pad for her works but they are certainly not anchored to reality. She may draw from memory Eucalyptus and Oak Trees from her native California however where the reach of memory falters she extends her imagination and emotions to answer. What your correspondent had encountered as seasons of wooded areas were actually “not a time of year but a feel… I felt like making a blue painting…[I had] never done green trees…” and thus “Blueforest” and “Rainforest” were created respectively.

"Rainforest"
“Rainforest”

Levie wants her audience to experience “the joy of art but also a[n]…awareness of how fragile our world is.” A fragility that has prompted Levie to partner with the Amazon Conservation Association and may be captured in the negative space between the trees in Levie’s works. The negative space perhaps signifying the absence of where there had once been a populace of trees, no more. Whatever the answer may be, your correspondent urges you dear reader to visit Studio Gallery before the 28th of March. Admire the current exhibition on display and take a deep breath for Oxygen.

 

By Denis Sgouros

 

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