Mythical creations return to Old City gallery

Arch Enemy Arts opened “Imaginary Menagerie:Volume II” last Friday.

Scott Stitzer views Troy Coulterman’s work at Arch Enemy Gallery in the “Imaginary Menagerie exhibit” last Friday. | Kayleigh Purcell TTN
Scott Stitzer views Troy Coulterman’s work at Arch Enemy Gallery in the “Imaginary Menagerie exhibit” last Friday. | Kayleigh Purcell TTN

Monochrome paintings, three-dimensional human figures and cryptic mythical creatures aligned the display rooms at the opening of Arch Enemy Arts three-in-one showcase last Friday.

“Imaginary Menagerie: Volume II, The Arch Enemy Arts Guide to Cryptozoology,” is a returning show where new artists are assigned various mythical creatures to create in their own style and medium.

The free exhibition will run now through Sept. 27 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Arch Enemy Arts Gallery and Boutique, located at 109 Arch St.

Patrick Shillenn, the gallery’s co-founder and director, said Arch Enemy Arts works very closely with all of the artists they represent by providing services and creating shows, as well as merchandising within the boutique side of the gallery.

Shillenn said “Imaginary Menagerie” is intended to be the finale in a series of several volumes featuring different artists and mythical creatures.

The exhibit features all non-existent creatures like mythical beasts, harpies, mermaids, dragons, the Loch Ness monster and Sasquatch, created in various mediums.

Each showcase also includes an “artist’s spotlight”—separate showcases that run alongside of the main show featuring small collections of an artist’s own personal genre of work.

The spotlighted work at this show features Rebecca Adams’ collection of black and white paintings and Troy Coulterman’s “Full Disclosure,” colorful three-dimensional sculptures with exaggerated features.

The spotlighted artists at this event both presented works of surrealism in two completely different art forms.

Adams, a Virginia native who now resides in Rhode Island, has five pieces of monochrome paintings inspired by black-and-white photography and intense lighting techniques. Adams shoots all of her own models and paints from her own images.

As a photography major in school, Adams’ work is influenced by the aesthetic of darkroom black-and white printing, which she translates into stylized paintings with deep contrast and strong lighting sources.

“My work is based heavily on my love of film, like film noir—with a very specific contrasting light quality and a dark, unsettled, surreal, almost unreal quality,” Adams said.

“I always want to give the viewer a sense of feeling, like you know you’re looking at a real image but it’s not quite right, and it kind of gives you that dreamy quality,” she added.

Coulterman, of Guelph, Ontario, also incorporates surrealism in his work, but with bright and colorful sculptures inspired by graphic novels and cartoons.

His showcase features eight pieces of human-like sculptures.  The figures are made from clay and sculpted into silicone molds that he cast into individual pieces.

“I pick really bright colors and odd color combinations, that in a way, seduce the viewer and make the sculptures exciting,” Coulterman said.

The bright colors play into Coulterman’s “pop-surrealism” style, influenced by traditional sculpting.

Coulterman has a background making puppets, props and special effects in movies and commercials that influence his current style. He worked as a sculptor on the MTV show, “Celebrity Death Match” and Logo TV’s “Rick and Steve, the Happiest Gay Couple in the World,” making molds and puppets for the animators.

Some of Coulterman’s sculptures feature seemingly normal men and women in mundane poses, but with geometric headpieces or protruding eye sockets.

In “Imaginary Menagerie,” Shillenn said he is looking forward to seeing work from new artists like Dave Correia as well as returning artists, like Kristen Egan.

“Kristen did a piece called ‘Puca,’ which is kind of like a goat up on two legs playing a bagpipe,” Shillenn said. “It’s a super awesome sculpture, she really knocked it out of the park.”

Alexa Zizzi can be reached at

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