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So What the Heck is a Proscenium Anyway?

proscenium (prəˈsiːnɪəm)

— n  , pl -nia , -niums

1.            the arch or opening separating the stage from the auditorium together with the area immediately in front of the arch

2.            (in ancient theatres) the stage itself

[C17: via Latin from Greek proskēnion,  from pro-  before + skēnē  scene]

In other words, the often ornate threshold between the audience (viewer) and the play (in our case, the painted imagery and ideas that we’re “playing” with).

We’ve done something a bit different with the body of work we’ll be showing at Home Fine Art Gallery for February 2011.  We’ve created frames that are integrated with the paintings.  It was also just plain fun to create theater prosceniums.  There is just something elementally pleasing about having direct contact with the materials you’re working with.   Neither one of us has worked in 3D for a while, so this was really a treat.

The method we used to make the frames is based on traditional Venetian mask-making techniques.  When we were in Italy in 2008, Venice was a highlight of our trip.  It’s been called a kind of Disneyland, and yes, there are definitely some seriously touristy places you can get trapped in.  Rows and rows of shops selling blown glass and masks made in China.  This was, however, our second trip and we knew what to avoid and what we wanted to rediscover; the Venice behind the tourist mask. Our short list:

  1. The aged and muted colors of the walls and the water, which has always been an influence on our palette.

  1. The true artisans of glass and paper that you find in the smaller streets.  Though, in all honesty, one of our favorite mask makers has a location on the Rialto Bridge and it was one of our first stops.

La Bottega dei Mascareri – where master mask makers Massimo and Sergio Boldrin make both traditional masks and masks of their own design.  We own a few of them.

  1. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

  1. A serious cup of coffee with a view.

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Toy Theaters

In the time before television, people created their own entertainment.  Toy Theater was a wildly popular and simple means of staging dramatic spectacles in the Victorian living room.   Combining the visual and performing arts, toy theaters were printed on paperboard and sold as kits that people assembled at home, including stage, scenery, characters and costumes often painstakingly painted and embellished by their owners.

We’re planning on having some samples of toy theaters included in our upcoming exhibit “Theaters of Dreams” in February.  There are three paintings from the show posted on our website now and more to come.

Honeysuckle Dream

It’s really fun to collaborate with other artists.  What a treat to have one of our paintings be the cover art for the latest CD of one of our favorite singer/songwriters, Heidi Winzinger.

Setting the Stage

We have always tried to create worlds within the confines of the canvas and frame, hopefully where your imagination could cross over and play. Thresholds, doorways and windows have been recurring themes in our work so it was just a small step further to explore the theme of theater.

A stage is a space for players. Actors seem to have managed to retain the ability to pretend that is so easily lost in the process of growing up and becoming “responsible”, “mature” and “serious”. We all remember pretending though, and miss it. That’s why we all love movies and the theater so much. We can lose ourselves in the story that is happening on that screen or on that stage. Well, the canvas is both our screen and our stage. Our characters, whether boat, man, woman, animal, cloud or piece of fruit, are placed there and it’s the moment before the curtain rises or you hit the play button on your remote control. It is a moment with great potential, because there are as many stories to be played out as there are people to look and imagine them. There is no set script.

Theaters of Dreams


Opening Reception, February 5, 2011, 4pm – 6pm.

Home Fine Art Gallery, 2 Church Street, Mount Holly, NJ

The painting sets the stage. The characters are in place. Bring your imagination. Let the play begin! (literally and figuratively)

Work inspired by drama, myth and 19th century toy theaters, featuring our new “proscenium theater” frames.

Premier performance of “Absinthe Heroes”, a Steampunk Rock Opera, at 6pm, immediately following the reception.

Refreshments by Robin’s Nest Restaurant.