Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening of artist (and friend) Stephanie S. Lee’s new show, “Roar,” at the Piermont Flywheel Gallery in Piermont, NY, on the west bank of the Hudson River, just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Her paintings are big and bright, blending traditional Korean themes and styles with contemporary ideas. Indeed, “Roar” vibrates with the presence of big-eyed tigers, house cats, dragons and other creatures. She also touches on themes of motherhood, car keys, and desktops (real desks, not computers) with a touch of both the everyday and the fantastical. I found it all approachable and observant, and marked by painstaking attention to artistic technique. Her website summarizes her outlook aptly:
My humble wish is for you to seize a tiny sparkly moment out of endlessly chaotic everyday life routines to be grateful for and for that moment of gratitude to be accompanied with my paintings.
Stephanie’s artist statement on the Flywheel site describes the cultural drivers of her artwork:
Dejected to see the Korean traditional folk art (Minhwa) becoming disconnected and distant from the modern day society, Stephanie S. Lee had a discerning desire to preserve it by reenacting it. Employing the unique symbolic, decorative, and symmetrical attributes of the Minhwa while applying the traditional methods, Lee compares and reinterprets the lost touch with the tradition while reconnecting with the modern art.
Some other background: Stephanie and I worked together in the early 2000s in the New York proposal department of a Big Four accounting firm. I was a writer and she was a designer using Quark to put the final proposal packages together, work that involved a lot of late nights working with teams in our Park Avenue office. Tat lasted for several years until we were laid off on the same day in 2006, along with almost the whole of our national operation. Stephanie and I went our separate career ways and finally connected on Facebook. Still, we hadn’t seen each other in a decade and I was grateful for the chance to see her vibrant art and catch up on our lives over the past decade.
“Roar” is on display at the Flywheel Gallery through March 27, so treat yourself to something different and get over to Piermont. If not, Stephanie’s website gives a wide-ranging overview of her work in different formats.