Pattern painting has a rich history in nonwestern and western cultures. The patterns of Islamic art, Chinese art and Medieval manuscript illuminations (to name only a few) range from the decorative to the sacred. Distinctive in this country was the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 1800s and the P&D (Pattern and Decoration) movement in the 1960s; both had their own stylistic approach to the revival of pattern and decorative painting that is still popular today.

Gallery 208 celebrates the pattern painting tradition, with an original approach, an exhibit titled Beyond Pattern: the Works of Rose-Ann San Martino Bryda. Bryda shares her personal vision, values and her interpretations of archetypes by exhibiting 12 paintings of various sizes. The opening reception is Tuesday, March 15, from 5:30 -7 p.m. at the Up & Coming Weekly office at 208 Rowan Street. 

It’s not necessary to know the history of pattern and decoration in art history before visiting Beyond Pattern: the Works of Rose-Ann San Martino Bryda; her paintings immediately speak to the uniqueness of rejecting the traditional figure-ground relationship or a window-to-another-world approach to painting. Bryda shares her intent when she noted her painting was about “archetypal images, symbols, universal patterns, intricate designs, the compulsive filling of the picture plane and a carefully chosen palette.”

Bryda does not clearly distinguish between background and foreground in her work, she is not interested in portraying traditional landscape or portrait compositions. Instead, the entire surface has a skeletal surface, a grid-like, organic lattice, restraining the movement and depth emerging from behind the grid. One can’t help but peer through the grid looking for the spatial clues of color and shapes that create a narrative. 

The artist commented how she is “drawn to contrasts and often uses a complementary palette.” She stated: “I like to experiment with depth and flatness in the two-dimensional plane and often achieve this by completing an under painting with depth and modeling and then draw patterns over it … My style has evolved through thought and instinct.” 

After reflecting on the body of work in the exhibit, visitors may leave the gallery sensing there are always small pools of concentric circles emerging throughout the works — thoughtful pools of balance and possibilities in the repeated patterns. The repeated textures, shapes, outlines and colors evoke the mandala — a generic identifier for charts or geometric patterns representing the metaphysical. If the historical significance of the true mandala is to focus on a sacred space and encourage meditation, Bryda creates her own universe of contemplative possibilities. 

Bryda confirmed she had “become enamored with the mandala” and said “I find it throughout nature: in flowers, snowflakes, spider webs, the cross section of a tree trunk or an orange since they have a mesmerizing structure of the center moving outward.” 

Whereas most of the works allude to the stylistic influence of the mandala, two works in the exhibit are intended to be a mandala. In the work titled “Faces Mandala,” a mixed media 24 inch square in size, colors vibrate from the surface pattern revealing three, stylized faces behind the concentric circles of the lattice. In this mixed media, as well as all the paintings in the exhibit, the whimsical nature of her work and her sense of humor is ever present.

Evoking the contemplative, you can see easily see how Bryda also interjects a sense of humor in many of her paintings. In the painting titled “Tic Tac Toe” nine pears are in a row; three pears in each of the three rows across the surface. A subtle patterned background has been carefully detailed with patterns to create a wallpaper effect in richly glazed browns and dark reds. The light values of the patterns in the pears reference the game when three of the pears of the same color create a subtle directional movement - similar to winning the Tic Tac Toe game! 

When asked about the humor in her work, Bryda quickly noted: “I prefer my work to be not merely a mirror, but transformative in some small way. I have no answers, but find it useful to ask questions. I strive to create work that promotes positive thought, is not merely beautiful, but beautiful all the same. If you smile when you look at my paintings, then they serve a purpose and are useful.”

Gallery 208 is pleased to exhibit the work of a regional artist who has been an advocate in the local arts community for many years. You will recognize the artist and her work since she has an extensively exhibited her work in the area, attends art openings regularly, and has worked for many years with the Fayetteville Art Guild and Ellington White CDC Discovering Art Program for at-risk students. 

A distinguished regional artist, she received the Regional Artists’ Grant in 2002/2003 from the Fayetteville and Cumberland County Arts Council. Her work is regularly exhibited at Ellington-White Contemporary Gallery, the Fayetteville Arts Council, the Cape Fear Studios and Bryda exhibits with the Fayetteville Art Guild. 

Her education includes the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C.; a post graduate diploma in drama from University of Kent in Canterbury, England; and a B.S. degree in Special Education and Art form Keene Sate College in Keene, New Hampshire. 

The public is invited to attend the opening reception at Gallery 208, 208 Rowan Street, on March 15,  between 5:30 -7 p.m. Beyond Pattern: the Works of Rose-Ann San Martino Bryda will remain in the gallery through the end of April 2016, gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and free to the public. 

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