Alternatives to gifts for Mom

Burbank Leader

Towns Burr Gallery has a new exhibition that is an overall complementary variety of artistic efforts by five women who wish to share their work as an alternative to traditional gifts for Mother's Day.

The intimate Burbank storefront gallery is energized by the eclectic combination of media including watercolors by Connie Towns-Burr; alabaster sculptures by Robin M. Cohen; jewelry by Suzanne Ehrmann; formed glass by Jackie Steimke; and print collage by Libby Ellis.

The theme of the show suggests giving the gift of fine art; floral watercolor paintings instead of FTD arrangements, hand fashioned jewelry instead of Tiffany's, molded art glass instead of crystal. Cohen's alabaster sculptures dress the front window, beckoning to passersby with their luminescent and tactile qualities. The artist breaks the age-old gallery taboo "do not touch" and invites viewers to pet the alabaster — a surprising interaction. These pieces engage and hook. The title of Cohen's flame-colored Utah alabaster piece, "Infinity," speaks to the affinity these works inspire. Her works are high-end.

Visitors are drawn next to the bright blocks of color that are Steimke's formed glass platters, bowls and vases. Colored glass and other materials are combined and fired in molds, resulting in vivid and functional works of fine art. The artist describes incidental beauty that is a result of layering, composing and kiln firing. Her style ranges from organic representation to Asian simplicity. Using a variety of molds would greatly improve her presentation.

Ellis offers clever collages, assembled using original carved wood block prints as her base, and applying elements taken from sheet music retired from the Brand Library music collection. The artist "up-cycles" sheet music by reconfiguring straight lines of musical staffs into curves and spirals. She bends strands of music forming lyrical shapes, teasing one's imagination into seeing what sounds might look like. Her work is intelligent and well considered. Her choices to blend these materials have layers of meaning that do not require professional analysis. They speak for themselves, and they tell a lovely story.

Ehrmann's jewelry designs transcend the idea that fashioned jewelry is folksy. Her works of wearable art are sophisticated and unique, and would be just as lovely across the dressing table as around one's neck. Ehrmann searches for the elements of her work as she moves through her life; her eye for treasures is acute. She stacks flattened pearls and combines faceted stones with crustaceans and other natural elements. She achieves remarkable complements within nature.

Trimming the back walls of the gallery, framing the exhibition, are classic watercolors by Connie Towns Burr. The artist's choice of floral or landscape subject matter is rendered beautifully, using the most difficult paint medium to master. Focused composition combined with the looseness of the watercolor medium results in shimmering bouquets of color. It would be good to see this artist expand on her subject matter; however, classic is classic because it has been done.

Infobox What: "Gifts From the Heart; Mother's Day Show and Sale" When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday until May 8Where: The Towns Burr Gallery, 3609 W. Magnolia Blvd., BurbankAdmission: FreeContact: (818) 378-4591 or visit www.towns burrgallery.com

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