Expression Free of Constraints

Hyde Park Metro  August 23, 1995
By Mary Deveraux Frankle 

Bossa Nova Michael BeaucheminI had the pleasure of attending an exhibition at the Beauchemin Gallery the other night. It was so refreshing to enter an establishment that adheres to the belief that a gallery is a place where museum-quality art is displayed for purposes of both viewing or sale. That artistic expression should be free of constraints, except those self-imposed by the artist, and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But enough touting that the arts, the Beauchemins and the St. Amands, are in trouble because the current political agenda says there is no room, no money, no need for what they supply. One look at their work and you should know that if there isn't room, room should be made.

I believe that art, particularly modern, should be experienced not explained. Does it make you think, feel, smile, yawn, stare for hours, long for ownership, or look for the exit? And that to describe art adequately to others, especially on paper, is akin to having a camel pass through the eye of a needle: some believe it possible, yet the results could be messy.

But, I must convey something. Let's start with Michael Beauchemin, after all it is his gallery. Michael's work, gorgeous colors of acrylic paint covered in oils (which gives his art its intrinsic glow) is expansive, to be precise encompassing entire walls. Or, as seen with this painting “Bossa Nova” (purchased by Elton John) propped up against a garage door. His inspiration? He smiles.

“Life, My childhood, memories, dreams, I've tried to capture them. To hold onto the moment. But you can't (freeze time)” he says, somewhat ruefully, “so I play with it, I play with the way time flutters by.” Hence the double images. But they are not disturbing, as one might think of double images, they're touching, beautiful. Images that could have come from almost any childhood—or should have. But once again that is the beauty of art. If you were not lucky enough to have beautiful memories of your own, you may share his.

State of Invention Michael St. AmandNow, for the sake of space, I must quickly move on to the other artist, Michael St. Amand, whose work was also exhibited. But there is nothing “quick” about St. Amand's work. His art needs time to be ingested, digested, pondered and enjoyed. His multi paneled, multi shaped, multi media, multi medium montage, collage, barrage is as fresh as it is challenging. Messages are coming at you from all sides. Political, social, cultural, aesthetics, it's in there. St. Amand's inspiration?

“Life. Music. Media. Fashion.” He pauses long enough to open a bottle of ‘the Real thing' Coke. (definitely media). “In renaissance times artists merely recorded what was happening. I'd like to think of myself like that.” His mixed media, “State of Invention” as seen here, certainly offers much to those who think but hey this is art and it's true merit is that one not need to think anything to enjoy it.

Beauchemin Gallery, 4434 W. Kennedy, Tampa, is open Thursday and Friday noon to 7pm, 10 pm on the 4th Friday of each month and Saturday 9am to 2pm.