Chet Fisher’s newly reopened Era Gallery on the corner of Castle and 3rd sets itself apart. Its white exterior exudes an almost church-like presence. As someone who has been worshipping at the altar of art for several years, Fisher’s gallery is simply ethereal. The natural light illuminates the space and gives the artwork an otherworldly glow. With a very modern approach to living and business, Fisher maintains a gallery space in the front of the store and resides in the back. Delineating space with floor-to-ceiling beige curtains creates a sense that the gallery is floating.
For Era’s second show, Fisher will highlight a dear friend’s art work. Mezzanine—formerly known as Wendy Kowalski—and Fisher have known each other since 2005. This will be her last show locally before she moves to Santa Cruz to further pursue her artistic endeavors.
Entitled “Mezzmerizd: Dreaming Awake,” the exhibition will feature Mezzanine’s whimsical and mesmerizing paintings of circus performers and dancers, as well as a new 12-foot piece entitled “Chrysalis.” In Chrysalis, Mezzanine depicts women hanging from chords, which are meant to be cocoons. The painting seemingly represents transformation—especially personal transformation experienced by Mezzanine herself.
After studying to be a writer at University of Connecticut, Mezzanine moved to NYU where she began to frequent Webster Hall, a nightclub that had trapeze and dance performers. She became interested in their motions and saw similarities of the drama of a circus in everyday people. “Life is constantly in motion and that’s what I want to paint,” Mezzanine explains.
Her career interest as an artist grew after a friend asked her to read poetry at an event. “I started to create artwork to accompany my writing,” Mezzanine says. “I began to realize that I could better connect with people by creating works of art. Art became my narrative and my writing naturally evolved into paintings.”
A renewal of self led her to a new moniker, too: Mezzanine. “A mezzanine is an in-between space in architecture,” she explains. “For me it is the blissful place when creating art and poetry.”
Self-taught, Mezzanine’s detailed work is an impressionistic, colorful and blissful world of motion. The close relationships she culled with circus performers are apparent. “‘Dreaming Awake’ is when life is alive, hypnotic and magical,” she states. “It is heightened senses when the colors of a painting vibrate with such intensity as to be mesmerizing.”
Often using simple colors, attention to Mezzanine’s form and lines are allowed to shine. Her work possesses a fluidity evocative of art-deco artists, such as Alphonese Mucha, who, much like Mezzanine, were inspired by circus performers.
Very connected to her work, Mezzanine sees herself as a creative vessel to translate the narratives of universal, nonverbal language. “The artist makes a covenant between the visible plane [and] the invisible plane that runs behind the scenes,” she expands. Like her name, when she paints she is transported to another realm, a state of otherworldliness. Her figures reflect the purity of time and space. “When I paint these large scale works I move into a space of transcendence, moving to music, letting the figures and the floating elements come through me,” she says. “I speak, cry, dance with the painting until the figures breathe. I intend the viewer to be transported to this space I call ‘Nebulon.’”
Mezzanine’s figures breathe off the canvas. The effect that her work has on viewers is reflective of the new life Era is experiencing, as well as a spiritual and even religious power that art possesses.
In conjunction with her exhibition at Era, Mezzanine will have an exhibition at the Art Center of Carrboro which will also feature performers who inspired her work. From Cirquesora!, these entertainers will be performing with fire during a theater night on June 18th. The show will also feature the work of a New York performer, Christine Geiger.
Mezzmerizd: Dreaming Awake
Art by Mezzanine
Hanging through June 5th
Era Gallery • 523 3rd Street