Lisa Stamanis’ intimate installation has an uncompromising title: “Lucky to be Alive (The Healing Room).” With determined baby steps and art as an invention to recovery, there is an understanding to the meaning of healing. Time still exists, and Stamanis is happy to pick and choose how to use that time, including this long-awaited return to her own artistic practice.
It is possible, thanks to some personal traits. “My stubbornness and my will,” says Stamanis. “I feel lucky and grateful.”
The Las Vegas cultural enabler was a founding member of the Contemporary Arts Collective and an arts administrator for the City of Las Vegas since 1994. She retired in 2014 after suffering a brain hemorrhage. In converting Winchester Culture Center Gallery into an environment of healing, hinting of a medical facility, she shares being alive with a festive outlook, despite the hardships that come from dodging a final bed rest.
The skills that are beginning to come back shine in this exhibition and speaks to personal strength. “Everything you know as normal is gone,” she says. “I made it through and now pushing forward.”
A bed sits in the middle of the room: an industrial frame covered with bling seems prepared to be a chariot to the heavens. A disco ball and music are subtext from the subconscious, making Donna Summer and others a soundtrack of youth, a Greek Chorus of physical freedom, back when walking or using a paint brush wasn’t a laborious routine. Your mind may hum along other songs if you are from the same generation (“Staying Alive” is my request to the DJ).
On the curved wall of Winchester there are Cy Twombly/Jean-Michel Basquiat-like scrawls that bump up to the entrance of the gallery. The scribbles take shape with a “hello,” a greeting from the artist. That “hello” is also a welcome back to living life as an artist. It can be read when one leaves the representation of a cancelled wake, back into a lobby of the real world.
"Lucky to be Alive (The Healing Room)"
Through Feb. 16 at Winchester Gallery
Opening Reception Thursday, January 18, 6 - 8 p.m.
Gallery Talk Saturday, January 27, 2018. 11:00 a.m.
Clark County Winchester Cultural Center Gallery
During the “Lucky to be Alive (The Healing Room)" reception, Lisa Stamanis will present companion pieces curated under the title of the “Thank You Project,” a collection of original artwork by other artists that will to be gifted to Las Vegas doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters. "The 'Thank You Project” is an experimental performance work involving artists and their artwork in a giving, healing gesture to the Las Vegas caregiver community,” says Stamanis. A selection of the donated arts works will be displayed and presented to recipients during the artists reception.
"Red State. Blue State." on the print circuit.
After my Midway ended its run a year ago, interdisciplinary artist Clovis Blackwell asked if I would be willing to have his Los Angeles-based company, Fleur de Boom! Editions, create hand-pulled prints of an image from Bunko’s archives.
That’s a great idea, I thought, and first wondered if that would be a fitting way to offset some costs for my Thesis Exhibition in Spring 2018. Then something else came up: Winchester Cultural Center needed a sponsor of the 2017 “Life in Death” Juried Exhibition. The proceeds from print sales made it possible for PaintThisDesert and BunkoArchives to say yes on being a sponsor of art made for Clark County's Day of the Dead festival.
Over the summer Clovis and I planned for a new set of prints that will, this time, support production costs for my thesis show.
The signed and numbered prints are the BUNKO mark, and “Red State Blue State,” a piece that was written years ago and has now become a short linguistic decoder of this current political climate.
Mostly it is about making cool stuff with Clovis, an excellent printer and collaborator.
Will Rogers Monument"August 10, 2017, San Bernardino, California Theatre. Photo: Ed Fuentes
Field Note: As the sun's light was hitting the golden hour I was near one of my favorite pieces, "Will Rogers Monument" (1998-1999) by Kent Twitchell. It is made of two portraitures; the east side shows Rogers in his performance years: the image of a cowboy looking back with wise eyes. On the west side Twitchell captured Rogers’ mischief as a political commentator. He has been quoted to have said "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat" and "There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you." Imagine the witticisms from Rogers that would inspired by today’s political climate.
I found out details about the mural itself for a 2012 post at KCET:
The two murals, titled "Will Rogers Monument," were profiled in the San Bernardino Sun and stated that not only did the humorist make several appearances in the inland region, his last live performance was at the California Theatre was June 28, 1935. Rogers and his friend, aviator Wiley Post, died six weeks later when their plane crashed in Alaska.
"Will Rogers Monument" is on two sides of the California Theatre, located at 562 West 4th Street, in San Bernardino, California.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.