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July 6th, 2005

Art: Arena Studios Showcases the Female Form

by Violet Bennett

Arena Studios has long been a force to be reckoned with in NYC nightlife. While continuing to promote some of the hottest and most anticipated events, over the last year they have focused that dynamic energy toward their SoHo gallery space. The artists Arena has chosen to work with create some of the sexiest fine art on the scene today. Last fall they showcased a retrospective of D. Clark MacPherson’s SoHo Nudes: 1969-2004. Working exclusively in black and white photography with inexperienced models, MacPherson’s shots are daring, revealing and intimate. He originally conceived the series as “Natural Nudes” and rather than commanding poses, he allows his models to freely express themselves. The results range from modest to deeply seductive.

During the show’s opening reception, MacPherson’s skill at capturing the female form as well as her psyche was repeatedly remarked on. Of particular note are the facial expressions. In one print, kneeling on a shag rug and appraising herself over her shoulder in a mirror, a model is clearly truly naked as well as nude. Upon entering the space, attendees were immediately confronted by the image, almost to six feet in height, of a young woman reclining against an open doorway. Legs casually bent and curls awry, gazing away from the viewer and into the outside world, she is both precious and intimidating. She is also the inspiration for D. Clark MacPherson’s next showing, “SoHo Nudes: Life-Size,” a collection of panels which are mounted at their life-sized proportions. Also hosted at Arena Studios, this exhibition will open May 10th, 2005.

Following the fall MacPherson show, Arena Studios next hosted a collection entitled “Fleeting Moments” by Ekko. With close to thirty panels on display, the evolution of her talent was clear. Ekko maintains that her transition from commission portrait artist to fine art photographer allowed her to explore her true passion, capturing human energy. Working from the premise that body is designed to be constantly in motion; she delves into the range of emotions visible within the briefest moment. While her untouched prints remain striking, it is her multi-media collages that are breathtaking.

Combining photography, painting, drawing, collage and digital manipulation, Ekko’s imagery becomes ethereal. In her early works, “Dreamscapes,” the gaze of the artist is inward. They seem calm and reflective at first glance but are never still. The use of lines and layered color and texture create a continuous movement from the face to the edges of the context, like ripples on the surface of a looking-glass fountain. It gives the spectator the feeling that one is seeing beyond the image into what lies beneath. Her recent pieces are explosive. We see the gaze of the artist turn outward to dynamic action of the body and fierce expression of the face, pushing the emotion of the image out toward the spectator, rather than drawing them in. Ekko captures the dancer or character mid-flight, and then continues to propel the expression of flight on the screen with brush strokes of gold, layers of patterns, or lines, as well defined as acupuncture needles. Several of these pieces were included in last spring’s first Arena Group Show.

Arena Studios was thrilled to host “Pintados: An Exhibit of Tattooed Asian Pacific Islander Women and Benefit for Bamboo Girl Zine” on Saturday, April 16, 2005.

The show, aptly named “Pintados” after the inhabitants of Panay Island in the Philippines. Their epithet coined by the Spanish-from the Spanish word pintar meaning, “to paint”-referred to their tattooed bodies. In that spirit, the evening included a photography exhibit of tattooed Asian Pacific-Islander women from North America as well as live performances where participants related the stories behind the tattoos in relation to their Asian Pacific-Islander identity. Bernardo Runo, of the Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon tribe, fascinated the public with stories of his people and shared solidarity with his tattooed Asian sisters. Performance artist and fellow tattooed API lady, Surgeon Scofflaw, combined performance and poetry to demonstrate reverence for her tattoos.

All proceeds went towards the printing of the next issue of Bamboo Girl Zine, #12, dubbed “The Tattoo Issue,” marking the 10th anniversary of the publication.

In celebration of the world famous Black & Blue Ball, Arena Studios presents the Second Arena Group Show on June 1st, 2005. Through her exquisite connections and expert eye for all things disturbingly beautiful and haunting, curator Troy Morgan has brought the same mix of eclectic beauty to the Second Group Show as she has to her web creations and photography. Featuring eight extraordinary photographers, this show features never before seen work from: Michael Andrews, David Lawrence, Emma M., Brian Rawson, Leslie Van Stelton, LCW.JR/Misfit Studios, Michelle Wild and Lochai. Each photographer was selected for his or her technique, presentation and strength of vision. Many of the artists are creating work specifically for this show. which is sponsored by MetropolisNYC.com and [EyeoftheStorm.net] Web Hosting. Arena Studios hopes to maintain this powerful creative momentum and astounding group effort as an annual tradition. To learn more about this show visit: ArenaNYC.com More info on SoHo Nudes: Life-Size at Sohonudes.com

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