Thursday, November 15, 2012

More great youth art at B2

reviewed by Alec Clayton
The Weekly Volcano, Nov. 15, 2012

"No Return," acrylic by Osalys Avila Milan
B2 Fine Art has opened the third installment of their international youth art exhibition Beyond Crayons and Finger Painting 3.0. featuring work from young artists 7-19 years old from Bethlehem, Canada, China, Cuba, Korea, and the United States.

Compared to previous incarnations of this show, this one has more work that I see as typical of work by young artists, meaning a preponderance of drawings and paintings inspired by graphic novels, Japanese anime and Surrealism. Overall I find the work in this show to be not as innovative as that of the previous two shows, but the quality of the work is just as good.

I counted nine paintings from Chinese artists. They all appeared to be works from students of the same teacher. They look enough alike that if it were not for a variety of names of the wall labels I would have assumed they were all by the same artist. They are all happy, colorful, sweet and densely-populated cartoon-like scenes with crowds of both Asian and Western people. They’re a lot of fun, and I can’t help but imagine that they are all illustrations for the same graphic novel. Nice, but too syrupy sweet for my taste.

"Mirage" acrylic by Osalys Avila Milan - photos courtesy
B2 Fine Art
Similar in style but much more aesthetically pleasing are a group of three pieces by Sophie Story from right here in Tacoma. There are two digital prints, each with a single, very cute female figure in a dreamy and amorphous environment drawn with very sensitive and sharp contour lines and flat colored areas. Also by Story is a portrait of Jimi Hendrix done with markers. 

Lee Hyen Jung from Korea has a portrait of a man with flowing black hair and facial coloring that looks a lot like psychedelic art from the ’60s or like a paint-by-number portrait. It is a dramatic image.

Also from Korea, Ke Myung Seo has painted Harry Potter driving a monster truck in watercolor and colored pencil. Also like Jung’s piece, this one is very dramatic with strong dark and light contrasts and swirling and energetic but controlled paint application. Like everything else mentioned up to this point, it looks illustrational.

There’s a really nice little watercolor by Makieya Dunham from Detroit, Mich., of Adam and Eve naked by the tree of knowledge. It’s simple and colorful and reminds me a lot of Chagall’s “The Birthday” and “Over the Town.” There’s a crude quality to the drawing that looks intentional and which I find very refreshing.

Finally, the most outstanding works in the show — two paintings that alone are worth going to this show — are “No Return” and “Mirage” by Cuban artist Osalys Avila Milan, who was awarded the Freedom award in London and was among the youngest students to be invited to the Academy of Fine Arts of San Alejandro at age 15. She is now 19. Each of these two paintings are large and stunning Pop Art images that remind me a little bit of R.J. Kitaj (“No Return”) and a little bit of Philip Guston (“Mirage”).The bird’s eye view and skewed perspective in “No Return”) is fascinating and both are solidly composed with bright but not garish colors. This young woman is an amazing painter.

The gallery is hosting a series of workshops in conjunction with this show. Go to the website at for further information.

[B2 Fine Art Gallery, Beyond Crayons and Finger Painting 3.0, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, till 8 p.m. Third Thursdays, through Nov. 30, 711 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, 253.238.5065]

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