The story of relationships centers the dancing and painting arts. A painter may reveal a thought, a happening, a feeling. Dance may symbolize the same, although it is the movement that conjures up emotion. “Telling a story—the idea of motion. Dance enables me to tell small stories of relationships—moments that lead up to large moments,” said Allen Bentley, featured artist in the Kentlands Mansion’s main level exhibit, “Let’s Dance.”
Legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham once said, “All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.”
This is Bentley’s goal. “I wanted to talk about the relationship of the couple through movement… the dynamics of a couple. Not dancing per se, nothing technical about a step or type of dance … that’s not what I’m chasing. Push, pull, chase, flirt is how I approach the work.” Those four interactions are what surround his paintings—partially abstract, bold coloring and the sense that the whole thing is moving. “Figures are never dead center—they need to come from someplace and go to someplace. The key to motion—loose and free,” he elaborated.
Bentley, a professor of drawing at Montgomery College and an accomplished painter, resides in Clarksburg and has exhibited extensively locally and nationally. He visits dance studios and uses models in his photo shoots along with a multitude of props—ladders, lights, costumes—controlling the content of his photos, flooding them with light. He is the director of his own film as he shoots photos that will inspire paintings back in the studio.
Frank Mancino, a portrait and figure painter from Silver Spring, showed “Reach IV”—a Russian ballerina come to life from a movie still. “I used a dance motif with the excuse to explore oil painting … to see what the medium can do for me and what I can do with it,” the artist said. Its long rectangular shape, vivid color and abundant texture enhance the dancer’s presence. Mancino is fond of this intense texture and incorporates whimsy into his paintings, such as making the roses on the ballerina’s tutu stick out.
DC artist Magruder Murray’s harlequin in “Celebration” is particularly suited to its colored pencil medium. The stilt walker was performing in the front yard when he arrived at a friend’s birthday bash. The crowd urged him to capture the moment.
Artists on Market watercolorist Pritha Srinivasan showed “Flow” and “Within Reach.” “They were inspired by the electric magic conjured by movement,” the artist offered. “The passion and beauty of dancers brings forth infinite possibilities. ‘Flow’ represents harmony while ‘Within Reach’ explores the longing within us all to reach for something more.”
“Inner Visions,” the accompanying exhibit on the second floor, features international artist Kristina Garon. Originally a mural artist in her native Lithuania, she employs a variety of media and tools in her abstract work, which she terms intuitive painting. Eschewing brushes, she pours and applies layers of color and then determines what the abstract reveals. Images are typically outlined in black and may evolve to figures, faces, objects or animals. She favors oil for blending and slow drying and acrylics for the first layer due to their vivid color and fast drying. Her subjects appear mythical and evoke strong emotion.
Garon came to the U.S. 30 years ago and settled in Los Angeles. After 15 years, she moved to New York. She has exhibited internationally and now resides in Rockville. “I call my paintings deliveries from the universe,” she said. “I’m in a different dimension when painting. All my tiredness is gone.” They are deep, she said, more than what can be seen by the naked eye. “The more you look, the more you see.”
“Let’s Dance” and “Inner Visions” are on view through March 9. Please call the Kentlands Mansion at 301.258.6425 to schedule your visit.