"I always try to invite a combination of artists who work in different mediums," says John Rankine of the exhibitions he curates at Brews, a coffee/craft beer establishment in Eureka Springs. The current show, "Flower Power," includes mediums from watercolor to found-object sculpture captured in a photograph created by 25 regional artists, both those well known for their florals and those who are showing for the first time.
However, in this case, Rankine's primary goal was simple, not profound: "I just wanted something colorful and non-confrontational," he says, "although with Eureka Springs artists, nothing would surprise me."
Rankine's own entry in the show, "Blind Faith," might not be controversial, but it is certainly bears his signature mark of the unusual.
"I received a call in 2020 from a patron (and now friend) about doing a special photograph for his wife's birthday in June," he begins the story. "I had never done a commission piece before and was a little nervous, but excited about doing it."
Rankine says "it's hard to describe the creative process in the photographs I take using inanimate objects. It's a very intuitive process that usually starts with an object that speaks to me on some unconscious level. In this case, it was a ceramic doll mold.
"Talking with my client, I found out his wife was a big Georgia O'Keeffe fan. She loved her work, especially some of her painted skull series. I have a large collection of bones that I frequently use in my work and pulled out the large cow skull.
"Like O'Keeffe, flowers are also important subject matter in my work," Rankine adds. "The flowers in 'Blind Faith' are bougainvillea, a tropical flowering vine that I had transplanted to my greenhouse from when I lived in Key West almost 25 years ago."
While he hopes for beauty, "like all my work, 'Blind Faith' is open for interpretation," he concludes. The client owns No. 1 in the limited edition photograph, and No. 2 is on show at Brews.
Jana Robison's entry in "Flower Power" -- titled "We Were Seeds" -- was inspired by the quote "They tried to bury us, but they didn't know we were seeds," by the Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos.
"The quote itself is a metaphor for the cause and effect relations of the oppressed and oppressors," she says. "Like seeds, the oppressed will simply rise up when [buried]. In other words, the activism of the oppressed cannot be repressed, because the more they are attacked, the more they will just continue to spring back up again."
While Rankine most often works in found objects and photographs, Robison switched in 2017 from "from traditional to digital painting."
"Although I prefer drawing," she says, "I really like the look of painting, and the process of digital painting allows me to enjoy the best of both mediums. The enjoyable experience of digital painting has motivated me to create a larger volume of work. In recent years, my style has also evolved to express a deeper range of my inner narrative, and as I grow and change, my art mirrors that."
Robison lives with her husband, Edward, a photographer, and their likewise artistic child and says: "Living in a household of creatives is to navigate what is simultaneously a brainstorming studio, an improv club and a maker space. This multipurpose atelier wouldn't be complete without an array of projects happening all at once, at any given moment in time. Another bonus is the surplus of honest feedback and critiques, and networked inspiration from our memories traveling as a family."
As for Rankine, he's "never sure where these symbolic, sometimes archetypal motifs come from. It's an intuitive process, and I am often surprised when meaning strikes me much later. I have learned over the years to trust this process and leave the interpretation to others."
WHEN — Through April 13; hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday & until 10 p.m Friday-Saturday
WHERE — Brews, 2 Pine. St. in Eureka Springs
COST — Admission is free; works are for sale
INFO — Email [email protected]