Flagler County artists J.J. Graham and Marilyn Leverton team up for Arts on Granada show
Flagler County artist J.J. Graham approaches a blank canvas the way one would a new relationship: open-minded and unsure, yet enthralled with the possibility of the untouched potential for greatness.
“Painting has always been a jealous lover; I could paint for hours,” he said.
“We have a wonderful friendship. ... There’s a camaraderie that we have; it’s priceless.”
- J.J. GRAHAM, local artist, about Marilyn Leverton
A sweet and savory pairing, the exhibit features colorful oil paintings by Graham — creator of the Salvo Art House in Bunnell — and detailed, earth-toned clay sculptures by Leverton.
“Contrast is an important element of art and design,” Graham said. “You will see that (the pieces) relate to one another too.”
Leverton said she worked with Graham to pick out which sculptures of hers would best compliment the figures, colors and emotions depicted in his paintings for the art show.
“Sometimes, when he needs an idea of a piece, he sometimes borrows one of mine to get a figure, and I’m always flattered when he does,” Leverton said.
She has worked with Graham since his launch of Hollingsworth Gallery in City Marketplace in 2008, and now she spends about three days a week creating artwork in his art house.
“We have a wonderful friendship,” Graham said about Leverton. “There’s a camaraderie that we have; it’s priceless.”
While Leverton’s inspiration comes from things she reads or thinks about, Graham focuses on creating pieces that are rooted in reality but altered by human emotions.
“I’m a figurative painter, even though I place them in these very arbitrary landscapes,” he said. “When I say arbitrary, I mean it’s my color, it’s not local color — it’s like color affected by music. My whole painting style is basically my handwriting blown up to my shoulder.
“Within your own handwriting, there are all the marks you need to be painting,” he said. “Take that same fluid movement, and take it from your wrist to your shoulder. In a way, you write a painting. Now of course, it’s not always that simple.”
A glimpse at his work reveals colors all across the spectrum with shapes and shadows evoking different moods. But a closer look at several of his pieces exposes words and phrases etched in the paint. He attributes this detail to his family’s passion for poetry and the written word.
“I’m also an expressionist, so I paint with my emotions, my feelings, my sensations,” he said.
Leverton’s sculptures in the show compliment the theme of “Lovers and Loners.”
“A lot of my pieces are either somebody on their own like a fellow, and there’s a woman over there who’s kind of sad, and I have a couple lovers, so it was just pieces we thought went well together,” she said.
After creating the sculptures with clay and then firing them, she paints some of them with different muted shades and leaves others to be natural.
While the two artists mostly display their work in Flagler County, branching out to Ormond Beach is a welcomed opportunity.
“It’s lovely to have a new audience,” Leverton said. “This is a beautiful gallery; it’s a great space. I love the open windows, and it’s bright and nice.”