‘Magical Realism’ on display


Artists who portray realistic settings invaded by bizarre elements will be spotlighted through March 14 in a “Magical Realism” exhibit at Pima Community College’s Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery.

Featured artists are Gail Marcus-Orlen, Robert Cocke, Penny McElroy and Janet Prip. The exhibit is under the direction of curator David Andres.

Special events on Feb. 13 at the West Campus Center for the Arts include a gallery talk at 2 p.m., followed by a reception from 5-7 p.m. Marcus-Orlen, McElroy and Prip will give an artist lecture at 6:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall.

Marcus-Orlen, a local painter, uses vibrant colors and details to create a narrative.

“Gail is one of those artists that tells stories,” Andres said. “She has recently gone through a pretty tragic story in her life. Her husband passed away of cancer in 2010.”

Her Bernal exhibit pieces create a sort of mini-retrospective, covering work created from 1978 through 2012.

Fellow painter Cocke is a retired professor from Arizona State University who lives in Oracle, Ariz.

“He does magical realism still-life with landscape,” Andres said. “His work lately has been really small in format, but very fantasy-looking. Looking at the picture, you’re not sure what will appear. He also works in a magical way with telling stories. They are all narratives.”

Mixed media artist McElroy, who lives in Southern California, employs a variety of material in her work. One piece uses seedpods, words and text, and makes references to photography.

Prip, from Rhode Island, is the only sculptor in the exhibit.

“Prip does bronze work that has a magical feel of organic nature,” Andres said. “One of her pieces has seed pods opening up and growing … but they’re actually vessels. You would see that more in ceramics, but typically not in bronze sculpture.”

Andres hopes Pima instructors from multiple disciplines will bring their students to the exhibit.

“Magical realism is really about surrealism … with a magical feel to it,” he said. “Magical realism is in literature and music, too.”

He said the exhibit offers opportunities to educate students.

“I did this particular exhibit to augment the writing, basic design, painting and sculpture classes,” he said. “All of these artists are telling stories, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of writing classes down here to look at the work.”

In addition to the Bernal exhibit, the four artists will have three to four extra pieces featured through April 10 in a community outreach gallery at Tucson International Airport.

The gallery and its programs are free and open to the public. Bernal Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and before most evening performances at the CFA theaters.

For more information, call 206-6942 or email centerforthearts@pima.edu.


“Magical Realism”

Where: Bernal Gallery, West Campus CFA

When: Through March 14

Gallery talk: Feb. 13, 2 p.m.

Reception: Feb 13, 5-7 p.m.

Artist lecture: Feb 13, 6:30 p.m., Recital Hall

Admission: Free

Details: 206-6942

Gail Marcus-Orlen’s story-telling “Simple Mysteries” is a 34″x34″ oil painting on canvas. (Photo courtesy of PCC Center of the Arts.)

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