James Denmark at Red Piano Too Gallery
By Mary Ellen Thompson | Iconic Local Artist, James Denmark, will exhibit at the Red Piano Too Art Gallery, 870 Sea Island Parkway on Saint Helena Island. The opening reception will be held Friday evening, November 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; refreshments will be served. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the artist and see his new work.
The Red Piano Too Art Gallery has an annual November exhibit during the Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery owner Mary I. Mack says, “We are honored to have James Denmark as our featured artist this year. James has an international following. This exhibit will allow his many friends, admirers, and most importantly, his collectors, an opportunity to visit with him.”
Internationally renowned for his collages, watercolors, woodcuts, and reproductions, the collages are Denmark’s most identifiable pieces. This exhibit, “LIFE, LOVE AND MUSIC” is a collection of forty works consisting of collage, mixed media, and prints. James Denmark’s collages embody a joyful sense of color and form; the mixed media is ingeniously melded to seamlessly create an inspirational style that is truly unique.
“Why Collage?” Denmark explains, “Collage is truly an art technique of our time. In our consumer society almost everything is obsolete before it is paid for. The art of collage is a unique and refreshing way to make use of numerous disposables attached to our daily endeavors.With anything that you use, from unused postage stamps to magazines to old newspapers, you can create fascinating artwork that uniquely reflects your personality and lifestyle.
“The collage is the unique technique where every individual or art student can get pleasure and satisfaction from creating something distinctly personal. There is no need for special training or talents, just a desire to create something original and the courage to give full reign to your self-expression.
“The term collage is derived from the French word ‘coller’ meaning to glue or stick together. Paper is one of the most common materials used in making collage. The word paper is derived from ‘papyrus,’ a common pithy reed from which Egyptians made their writing materials. Today’s method of manufacture, however, is based upon an invention made in China during the first century A.D. Paper was produced from the inner bark of the mulberry tree by a process similar to that employed by early Polynesians in the making of tapa, a non-woven garment cloth. Later, the Chinese improved their method of production through the use of pulp made from twine, rope, rags and other fibrous materials. The wide selection of paper available today is the result of a slow refinement of processing with the relatively, more recent, additions of chemicals, dyes, wood pulp and machinery.
“Although paper was originally intended for the use as a writing material, by the beginning of the 20th century, such famous artists as Picasso and Braque were already seeing its possibilities as a fine art medium. Other contemporary artists such as Henri Matisse, Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, Victor Vasarely, Robert Motherwell, and Romare Bearden employed collage as a primary means of creative expression.
“For many reasons, collage fits well with my African-American experience. Like Jazz, the Blues or Gospel, the improvisation employed to create uniqueness and originality, comes from blending and combining things that do not ordinarily go together. My natural link to my culture provides me with the passion and the energy to use and combine things in my artwork. I grew up a midst all kinds of cast-offs and hand-me-downs. To make use of all sorts of things was a tradition in my family passed down from one generation to the next.
“One can truly say that COLLAGE is a natural way for me to create. I was blessed with the insight and creative sensibility to use it well.”
A better understanding of his evolution to this juncture in his career can be gleaned from his biography, which reads: “James Denmark and his wife, Beaufort native, Ethel Bampfield-Denmark reside in the town of Yemassee, in the South Carolina lowcountry. Both Denmarks retired here, after long professional careers in New York City. James Denmark’s journey to New York City and the lowcountry started in 1936, in Winter Haven, Florida. He was born into a creative environment from both sides of his family. His mother was gifted with an intuitive feeling for design and fastidiousness for detail that she expressed in all aspects of her daily life. His grandmother developed her talents in wire sculpture and as a quilt maker. His grandfather was a craftsman noted for his custom-designed molds and bricklaying skills. As a child, Denmark was exposed to color and form. This rich beginning is the root of his creative expression. Denmark attended Florida A&M University on a track scholarship. While pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, he came under the tutelage of the artist and acclaimed African American art historian, Dr. Samella Lewis, who gave him exposure to the great traditions and accomplishments of the African American art movement. Denmark’s work underwent a stylistic transition after studying at Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in Brooklyn, New York, where he began experimenting with collage, quickly developing his own unique and easily identifiable style. With brightly hand colored papers, found papers, fabric and objects, Denmark creates compositions that go beyond the superficial and transitory and focus on that which is universal. Galleries and collectors worldwide eagerly seek his collages, watercolors, woodcuts and reproductions.”
Of his work, Denmark states, “Trust and faith create confidence. Which allows me to move forward with my work. I leave everything to the spirits. I step back every so often to peek at found collage material, and to ponder new possibilities. I am a party to improvisation, found materials and to the impact of color.”
For more information contact the gallery at (843) 838-2241 or email: RedPianotoo@ISLC.net. The Red Piano Too Art Gallery, 870 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.