tampabay.com

Rediscovering beauty in detail

Thirty years of living in Japan have inspired the work of a Tarpon Springs artist.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Published April 10, 2007


When the paintings of Tarpon Springs artist Jim Sikes arrived for an exhibit this spring, the director of the Pasco Arts Council arts center moved the furniture to accommodate those who want to linger for a while.

Named "Kyoto Rediscovered: Paintings & Collages," it's a collection of 37 sizable works inspired by the artist's 30-year sojourn in Kyoto and other parts of Japan. That's where he worked as an employee of the Department of Defense and met his wife, Yoko.

"Much of my figurative work derives from a strong attraction to traditional scenes and architecture in towns and rural areas, especially in Japan," Sikes wrote in an artist's statement. "Other favorite motifs include remnants of Japan's cultural past, such as Kyoto's geisha and the traditional teahouses where they perform."

The exhibit invites the viewer to relax on one of the benches in each of the center's three exhibit rooms and absorb the tranquil images Sikes created: a quiet street scene where geisha and tourists glide by a large, perfectly proportioned building; a deserted lane curving between neat, deep burgundy houses with thatched roofs; a circle of gold and white ornamental fish called koi drifting in a blue-black pool of water; beautiful geisha in graceful poses; peaceful countryside scenes.

The artist's unusual media and technique invite the viewer to stand close to see the details: walls created from crimped rice paper and dripped with acrylic; a geisha's dress cut from printed gift wrap paper into intricate designs; hand rails and window frames made from tiny strips of real bamboo; tree leaves cut from colorful tissue paper into sizes smaller than a baby's fingernail and pasted onto clayboard; fabrics shaped into faces that adorn fans.

The textured creations also tempt the viewer to touch, which would, of course, destroy the delicate work (thus all the "please do not touch" signs scattered among the paintings).

Council executive director Ann Larsen has rearranged the furniture in the main gallery to make viewing easier. An arrangement of white wicker chairs and a sofa with plump cushions in front of a window provide a place to relax while enjoying well-lit views of Sikes' labyrinthine collages.

Japanese-inspired music, including a CD by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, create a serene ambience. Light incense intensifies the art experience.

The exhibit also has some noteworthy, lifelike artificial flower creations by Yoko. A reception with the artist is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

IF YOU GO

On exhibit

What: "Kyoto Rediscovered: Paintings & Collages" by Jim Sikes.

Where: Pasco Art Council's arts center, 5744 Moog Road, Holiday.

When: Through May 5. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. A reception with the artist is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Tickets: Free.