The Lionheart Gallery Celebrates Acclaimed New Orleans Artists in May/June Exhibition

The Lionheart Gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, opens new exhibition showcasing the art of New Orleans photographer Sandra Russell Clark and abstract painter Evert Witte. The exhibition opens on May 2 with an artists' reception and talk and runs through June.

director of the Lionheart Gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, New York, is hosting a new exhibition that celebrates the art of two critically acclaimed New Orleans artists who lost everything ten years ago, before finding a touchstone of energy and inspiration in their beloved city. Opening on May 2 and running through June, the exhibition will showcase the haunting photography of Sandra Russell Clark, and the colorful abstract paintings of her husband, Evert Witte, many created anew after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the lives and livelihoods of thousands.  The exhibition opens with a meet the artist reception from 5 pm to 8 pm on Saturday, May 2.  There will be an artists’ talk on Sunday May 3rd at 1:00.

Published in leading magazines, including Vogue, Elle and the American Artist, Sandra Russell Clark is best known for her black and white, images of New Orleans cemeteries and southern landscapes. Evert Witte, known internationally for medium to large-scale paintings and drawings, is an abstract painter whose works are architecturally structured and balanced with vertical and horizontal brushwork to suggest a deeper story. The Lionheart exhibition will be the first time Sandra Clark and Evert Witte are exhibiting their works together.

An award-winning photographer who has received honors and grants from leading arts organizations and has been exhibited and collected by museums in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Europe and Brazil. Sandra Clark was born and raised in New Orleans. She grew up playing in its Elysian fields and graveyards. Music filled her soul and stories shaped her imagination. She was raised in a household of women, strong and stoic, who shared tales of struggle and success. Her great grandmother, Cuban by birth, taught her the importance of honouring those who came before us and the possibility of miracles. Her mother, taken from her during her teenage years, introduced her to the realities of death.  As a child, she was fascinated by the myriad cultural influences that thrived all around her. She found beauty in gardens where hope blossomed and grew and in cemeteries where love, seemingly lost, lived on.

It is these life experiences that resonate throughout her photography, pictorial tributes to images that fill her memories of Louisiana landscapes. and misty Venetian streets.  Before the hurricane washed away her entire portfolio, save the few negatives that were in the briefcase she fortuitously carried with her out of harm’s way, Clark had garnered critical acclaim for her themed-based series of works. Her 1980s Louisiana Dreamscapes celebrated the wetlands in a collection of black and white infrared photographs, toned and hand painted to create the ethereal ambiance she is so skilled at capturing.

Netherlands native, artist Evert Witte, Sandra’s husband of 20+ years, found that his contemporary paintings became brighter after Katrina swept in with a darkness he had never before experienced.

“I was used to very bright light in the Netherlands,” said Witte, who started his career as a commercial illustrator and cartoonist in Europe, before making the transition to fine art in 1983 and showing his work in museums throughout the Netherlands. He moved to the United States when he accepted a position as a visiting professor of painting and drawing at Loyola University in New Orleans in 1994. “The light in New Orleans was soft and misty with the humidity. There was always a haze and my paintings back then reflected that diffused atmosphere.”

That changed dramatically after Katrina, when his studio and hundreds of paintings  and drawings were destroyed. He noticed the difference in light when he and Sandra, whom he met in New Orleans and married two years later, moved to Long Island for two years after the hurricane, then again in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he accepted an artist residency and was awarded a grant from the Jackson Pollack Foundation.

“My world became brighter and I wanted to paint louder and use more color than I had before,” he said. His paintings today are minimal in design, grid-like in construction, and abstract in style. His process is methodical as he builds up color layer upon layer, achieving a sense of balance and in order and chaos in his finished piece.

The exhibition is open from May 2 through June, 28th Wednesday through Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm; Sundays from noon to 5 pm.

For more information and to see the work of Sandra Russell Clark and Evert Witte online, call the gallery at (914) 764-8689. 

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Categories: Photography, Arts and Entertainment

Tags: Art, New Orleans, Paintings, Photography


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