The “Memorial” show, curated by Yuko Nii here at the WAH (Williamsburg Art & Historical) Center honors the late artists Estelle Levy, Fernand Barbot, and composer Elodie Lauten. Since the opening reception on Saturday, September 6, the WAH Center’s second floor gallery exudes a spirit of foregoing joy, love, and these artists’ appreciation for the world around them, as revealed through their chosen mediums. “Memorial” also featured the works of Gabe Turow, Kenol Lamour, Linda Butti, Tome Lollar, and Helen Henry – friends of Estelle Levy – as well as Gerard Barbot, son of Fernand Barbot, in the small gallery. Together this assemble of artists represents a vison of everyday life away from perpetual pessimism.
Fernand Barbot’s scenic paintings line the left and back walls of the gallery, depicting everyday charms from life. Whether it be a late night city street, such as Brooklyn PM, or the serenity of a small cluster of homes by the beach, as in By the Sea, all of Barbot’s pieces have a continuity of restfulness. Some may classify Barbot’s self-taught folk art as novice, yet there seems to be an overall intentional lack of harshness to Barbot’s works and becomes a seamless dynamic throughout the 36 paintings across the wall.
The dynamic of a light, whimsical view of human life is felt throughout the room. In Estelle Levy’s sculptures – a majority of them are busts – bring a level of humor to the gallery as we learn how Levy saw people in society. These busts ranged from big puffy lips, comical hats with clusters of whistles, and a bow tie, a comedic trademark. Levy’s sculptures are bound to lure you in. Give yourself time to reach the underbelly of her work: “Why these people? “Why these facial expressions?” “What made them so important or unimportant that Levy was inspired to sculpt them?” Estelle Levy’s sculptures provide the experience of being playfully watched by an energy not at all intimidating.
The other pieces in “Memorial” follow the same trends as the honorees – works from Helen Henry like City Scene- NY Alphabet City and Linda Butti’s Cherry Tree bring out the simple charms of life. Sculptures by Tom Lollar, Gabe Turow and Gerard Barbot in the “Small Gallery” which include Blue Group and BT 1 also express serenity, their works rid of intimidation when it comes to tackling the act of breaking down and trying to understand art itself and the artist’s purpose.
Whether or not these artists are still with us, the power that art contains transcends the need for the physical need to be guided through a piece by the artist him or herself. These artists who were apart of the WAH Center’s “Memorial” show evoke thought impeccable.