A Review of “The Beauty Around Us” at the Frank Bette Center

Frank Bette Center via Heather Ihn Martin--Heather Ihn Martin’s exhibit will run until August 5

A Review of “The Beauty Around Us” at the Frank Bette Center

The show in the backroom of the Frank Bette Center of the Arts could be prefaced by ‘visual bouquet, vistas and vignettes of poetic tranquility, inherent beauty in the everyday.’

The paintings by Heather Ihn Martin declare that her interpretation of reality is mild and graceful, not harsh. Her painting of Blood Oranges with a Knife could so easily have tilted into the slightly macabre with some red droplets and stains strategically placed but no, the fruit slices and sharp tool are without value, neither good nor bad, just being themselves in a pleasing tabletop design and attractive colors and textures. Similarly, tulips past their prime or marsh reeds hanging in the water do not conjure compost but only an aspect of nature which creates a graceful arc in Martin’s composition and is pleasing to the eye.

Flowers abound: roses, sunflowers, daffodils, peonies, sweet peas, dahlias, mums. While there is a genre of sickly-sweet Hallmark flower images, these are not them. Here, with Martin’s clear vision, they just are what they are and can’t help it that they are gorgeous. That’s just reality. By isolating and focusing on just about anything… a random collection of post-it notes, or the arrangement of tools in a workshop, we see what the artist sees… that there is beauty all around us. Even an avalanche of pink satin fabric bunched on a sewing machine waiting to be pushed under the needle which is the sole illumination in an otherwise muted painting. This brilliant spot of light functions as the heart of creation, the seat of transformation. There isn’t a soul around. There doesn’t need to be. The beauty doesn’t need us but, we need it.

“The Beauty Around Us” will be displayed at Frank Bette Center from July 1 to August 5. Frank Bette Center for the Arts is located at 1601 Paru St.