001COVERThe world of art can be a complex system with layers and layers of meaning — some much more challenging than others. Depending on how much you’re interested in what’s happening in art nationally and internationally, one may often find oneself asking contemporary questions like “What is art for?” and “Why is that art?”

Not so with the mixed media works by Dawn Marie Rozzo, a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina. You don’t need to theorize about unsettling postmodern themes, examine underlying constructs about identity or any of the other approaches to understanding conceptual works of art —  Rozzo’s work is simply joyful! 

There are many reasons to enjoy art; joy and beauty are still highly relevant because of the effect on the viewer. When viewing Rozzo’s work, visitors may find themselves feeling delighted in sunshine and nature: spring fever magnified! So it seems the month of April is a perfect time for Gallery 208 to open with the exhibit titled Dawn Marie Rozzo: Variations on a Theme.

The opening reception for Dawn Marie Rozzo: Variations on a Theme is April 11, 2017, from 5:30-7 p.m. at Gallery 208, and the public is invited to preview the exhibit and meet the artist. Due to her subject matter, colors and approach to image making, I feel confident everyone who attends the opening or visits the exhibit later will leave feeling a
little happier. 

Rozzo’s work is deceptively simple. The gallery is filled with birds, birds and more birds (and some other furry “critters”), all having
personalities. Rozzo has created characters we can relate to in some
archetypal way. Her choice of colors evoke meaning, as well as the text she interfaces with her subjects in a collage format. Her work appears
effortless, yet it is that effortlessness which further supports why the
work evokes a freshness.  

Do not be fooled; her “effortless” style is the result of being an accomplished artist who chooses a loose approach, an artist with a disciplined and trained hand and eye. Upon close inspection, visitors to the gallery will find her work has layers of meaning. 

Rozzo refers to meaning in her work by saying, “The paintings and collages allude to moments of observed beauty, a lightning flash or bird strut. I choose to document these observations with loose transparent washes and gestural brushstrokes to express the surprise experiences in Nature. The collages tell a story of intersections; birds or animals weave between words and images of human endeavors.”

Rozzo will talk about her work and technique at the opening
reception, but for those who are not able to attend the opening, the artist’s statement sums up her creative approach: “I love the transparency of watercolor and its fluidity, it influences my work. Loose transparent washes and gestural brushstrokes are employed on canvas, as well as re-purposed papers and cradled board to create densely colored pieces. Watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil and oil paint are layered over one another between clear gesso and acrylic mediums.”

She continued, “My recent collages are a playful intersection between observed natural behaviors of birds, garden creatures and the recording of human endeavors in repurposed pages of old books. I have been
attracted to fragments of
beauty discovered in the natural world since I was very young and I am fortunate to have early memories of
discoveries while exploring the nearby woods, and seeing
wonders in my Dad’s garden.”

A trained artist, Rozzo attended Alfred University
and Empire State College, graduating in 1992 with a degree in painting and graphic design. She has painted, taught and created art programming ever since. In the past 12 years, in addition to her studio practice, she has taught senior adults with disabilities art and enrichment programming. Her philosophy for teaching can be summed up in one of her
statements: “I know that
opportunities for creative expression can activate hope.”

Rozzo’s statement about hope is reflected in her creative teaching programming, but also as an activist in her stated mission as “giving back.” As a supporter of the International Justice Mission (IJM is an organization whose purpose is to fight enslavement and violence against the poor worldwide), for this exhibit, the artist has created the Wall of Positives. The Wall of Positives is an effort to make some of her work very affordable for those who appreciate it and to continue to support IJM. In the Wall of Positives series, the artist has created a group of small 6”x6” collages on a cradled hardboard priced at only $75 each, with $10 from each sale going to the International Justice Mission. Those attending the opening or visiting the exhibit, if you purchase a work off the Wall of Positives you don’t have to wait for the exhibit to end -— just pay for the small work and you can take it with you as you leave.

Gallery 208 on Rowan Street in historical downtown Fayetteville is excited to present a regional artist and invites everyone to attend the opening reception and meet Rozzo — an artist whose paintings are exhibited and sold regionally in North Carolina and are in private collections across the United States. 

Dawn Marie Rozzo: Variations on a Theme will remain at Gallery 208 until late June, so there is plenty of time to visit the exhibit. Gallery 208 is located at Up & Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan Street. The hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, call Up & Coming Weekly at (910) 484-6200 or visit the artist’s website at www.dawnrozzo.com.

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