Exhibit collects donations for the Calcutta House

Tyler grad Jason Lutz organized a water-themed mutlimedia showcase at the
Fortress of the Arts.

Most people think art is kept in a stuffy museum or is something you search for on the Internet. By bringing the creations of local artists into an open loft and accompanying them with a soundtrack of jazz, rock and techno music, Jason Lutz, a recent Tyler grad, produced What The Water Gave Me at the Fortress of the Arts.

Up five chilly flights of stairs guests, entered the exhibit through the warm glow of a white twinkle light archway. An assortment of blue washed over the room as strands of blue bulbs decorated the interior of the loft and steely blue tree branches leaned against various beams. The event attracted many people, from the teenager who looked as if he’d been dragged there by his parents to the elderly lady sitting in a corner reading her book. Couches lined the far wall where people sat casually chatting, sometimes draped on one another.

A sculpture entitled 'Confined' between 14 and 1 by Matthew Phillips is made of six kinds of wood, including maple, mahogany and cherry (Julia Wilkinson/TTN).

The theme of the show was water, and artists featured some of their works that related to that idea. Lutz said he chose “the water theme because it could be such a broad concept for everyone to work with. Essentially, it is the essence of everything”.

As a multimedia show that included paintings, sculptures, video and music, this exhibit remained true to its water theme.

The artistic duo Sean Devlin and Francis Cassidy entertained guests at the exhibit by painting live. Standing in front of a large blank canvas over the course of the night they painted an ocean full of sea monsters and mermaids.

They admitted that they had never painted live before and had only considered entering individual pieces. It was only when Lutz stopped by one afternoon that they decided to create something during the show.

“Originally, we were just going to put individual pieces up,” Devlin said, “but on our way to let Jason out, he saw one of our collaborations. He suggested that we do a live version of one.”

Delvin and Cassidy have done collaborations in their South Philly apartment on brown paper taped to their living room wall. They use cheap crayons, charcoal and colored pencils.

When they collaborate at home, they usually wing it and see what comes of it. This time they entered with a game plan, thinking of ways to incorporate the show’s water theme.

“We wanted to give it kind of an animated effect,” Devlin said, “adding and taking away as the painting evolved. That process in itself is a lot like floating water.”

Adalberto Andino formed a sculpture out of found parts, including a BMX helmet (Julia Wilkinson/TTN).

One of the artists who really incorporated the idea of water into her work was Rita Lynn Lyman. She created a beach scene, which she believed qualified as both performance and stationary art. Pebbles spread over tan paper flowed into a shiny teal fabric representing the ocean. While the materials making up the beach scene were obvious choices, the most outstanding and creative aspect was the bird. Made of bubble wrap and resembling a seagull or heron, its wings flapped when the string holding it in place was pulled.

Other artists’ featured works related to water were Matthew Robert Phillips, who submitted a piece that resembled hands that seemed to be reaching for the knobs of a faucet. Made of different colored striped wood, the palms face upward and appear as though they are unable to grasp the handles, representing life’s frustrations.

The exhibit was not only a showcase for local artists but also set up as a benefit. The Calcutta House helps the homeless who are diagnosed with AIDS. Donations of winter coats and toiletries were accepted at the door on behalf of the organization.

Lutz said he wanted to make the event community focused, which is why he chose the Calcutta House.
After a successful show, Lutz said he plans on putting together another exhibit, but that it probably won’t take place until next fall.

Frances McInerney can be reached at fmcinerney@temple.edu.

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