A Glimpse into The Minds of Local Artists
This afternoon I am in the home of a local Westport artist, except, this atelier is in Siesta Key, Florida. Dalia Shyevitch is prolific, and not simply with her painting. For her guests, relaxing in the Jacuzzi, she has just whipped up a few appetizers to snack on before dinner that could be out of the kitchen at Per Se! Dalia’s sense of aesthetics is grounded in nature with a particular affinity to the sensual. I am surrounded within her walls which are filled with nudes. She affirms these are much healthier for the life of the mind and one’s own sexuality than mirrors, which I noted are conspicuously absent. “Why do I want mirrors to reflect me continuously…checking yourself is distracting someone away from all the beauty elsewhere, from all that can be.” As she now focuses my attention to her collection of shells from an early walk on the beach. “Look at this one, she says, isn’t it amazing?” I am caught in thinking to myself “it's a shell”! Her roots may not be deep here in Sarasota, but her Israeli heritage eclipses all of that. She loves the water here and the light, and while she isn’t an escapist I sense that she is always grounded in her art but traveling to places of great expanse through it. There is a fantasy at play in her every brush stroke. One evening I watched as a painting came to life and observed her departure and return over the course of a few hours. What a delight I thought. It was a bit like Harold and his purple crayon! Dalia tells me that she started painting at a young age. She was in the Israeli army for two years and was obviously very restricted from pursuing her passion. After her military service she finished many paintings she had started before leaving and began to paint. She ‘sold’ her body of work to her family and came to Fairfield County to take painting at various studios eventually finding she taking classes at the Silvermine Art Guild. Thinking that Silvermine, was, as she puts it “too contemporary” she sought out to find an instructor to teach in the classical renaissance method. She found Frank Corvino, a master instructor of the classical academic. “He dedicates himself to renaissance because he feels it is a dying art." “The way he teaches may be very unique and specialized."
Another great friend and long time artist, Jill Gordon has been painting for over twenty years. Jill and I met in New York City when we were both in advertising and marketing careers in the 1980’s. It wasn’t until Jill moved to Connecticut that she allowed her deep love and interest in painting to move from avocation to devoting herself to dedicate her time to painting nearly full time. A visit to Jill, and her husband Jim’s home is a treat to be sure. I see a pattern in the artist’s gift to create haute cuisine. Farm-to-table move over. Jill’s palette–to-table is amazing as is consistently proven in what she might term a ‘simple dinner.’ She and Jim carefully plan like a great narrative transforming fresh ingredients to robust bursts of flavor and artfully plated execution. From her remarkable skillful eye and imagination brings places the glimpses of a perfect Tuscan village or a house covered in flowers in Provence back to the viewer, as if she has offered a gift of the memories you have had or wish to create in the next trip or journey to a special place of beauty and culture and place where time itself is eclipsed. Jill’s array of landscapes and still lifes take you on a tour of the Caribbean, the Tuscan village and French countryside, to her more recent work featuring African women in villages, distinctly directing us to their skill and balance and beauty in her elaborate patterns and choices of color perfectly choreographed in a rhythm where lives in motion are extraordinarily articulated in still life.
Sholeh Janati was born in Tehran. She remembers painting as early as four but did not receive any official training until age sixteen at the Shah’s palace. She was taught realism, renaissance, nudes and portraiture. When she arrived in the United States in the early 1980’s she continued to paint. At a point in time, she felt that she was restricted by the rigors of her early training and moved into abstract expressionism. Her colors are vivid as are the backdrops against what she paints.
Coastal influences can be seen softly nuanced in her bold construction and modernist leanings. She credits Frank Corvino as having taught her a lot about layering and glazing and the verdacio. The technique employed by many of the great.
Renaissance masters allowed Sholeh to bring the life to the flesh and tone of her paintings. Still, she felt the motivation to continue in her abstracts, finding great freedom and joy. Dean Fisher, a painter and instructor at the Silvermine Arts Guild and someone that has been a great influence on her and she told me “she takes such great pride in being his student.”
Three inspiring and unique women whom I am fortunate to count as friends, talented artists and, fabulous cooks who are able to appreciate and expand the boundaries of the beautiful shoreline we call home.
I have learned to see the world through the eyes of my artist friends. It is a perspective that allows me to see the true beauty and value in art – it helps you to understand not only the inner-workings of the artist, but a different way to interpret life. Through three local painters, I have been given the gift of seeing this coastal region in new and interesting ways.