Amber Jean Wheatley creates abstract figures on canvas primarily with acrylics, pastels, and charcoals. The artist brings awareness to a subject that is personal and that she is passionate about. Her artwork illustrates the realities of living with a dual diagnosis. Her struggle with alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and a bipolar diagnosis are revealed through her use of rich, contrasting, bold colors, and variation in the female form. Her artwork displays the realities of her highs and lows through both obvious and subtle detail that encourages a connection and curiosity for the viewer. Her original, expressive paintings are unique and thought provoking with a pleasing aesthetic that attract viewers and encourage the viewer to exercise their imagination.
Graysley has gone from the personal to the political and back again, and her work will undoubtedly be remembered as a pivotal moment in the movement to end the war in Vietnam. The artist continues to express her political and social commentary in works that incorporate subjects that range from famous paintings by Niele Toroni to photographs by W. Eugene Smith and artist and activist William Reinehart. It is to her credit that the artist does not take her politics lightly. The context of art is always politic, and politics is always present. The question remains, What will the art of Graysley do next?—Susan C.
Amber Jean Wheatley creates abstract figures on canvas primarily with acrylics, pastels, and charcoals. The artist brings awareness to a subject that is personal and that she is passionate about. Her artwork illustrates the realities of living with a dual diagnosis. Her struggle with alcoholism, depression, anxiety, and a bipolar diagnosis are revealed through her use of rich, contrasting, bold colors, and variation in the female form. Her artwork displays the realities of her highs and lows through both obvious and subtle detail that encourages a connection and curiosity for the viewer. Her original, expressive paintings are unique and thought provoking with a pleasing aesthetic that attract viewers and encourage the viewer to exercise their imagination.On a small wall of the gallery space hung a letter-size note-book and a list of persons who had influenced and inspired her work. A few of the more memorable artists were included: Sigmar Polke, Sol LeWitt, André Masson, Robert Ryman, Robert Smithson, Joan Mitchell, and Lee Krasner. The note-book, a series of color photographs, and the list of persons were some of the most successful elements in the exhibition. The photographs were not only a visual comment on the exhibition, but also a resource for the viewer. The subjects included Polke, Smithson, and Krasner include the artist herself. The photographs, taken at different times, are of Polke, Smithson, and Krasner, respectively. Polke was her own muse and Smithsons wife, while Krasner was also her muse. Each of these artists contributed to the exploration of the body as both subject and object, body and mind. Polke, for her part, showed her body and body only to the outside world, which made her a symbol of self-invention. Polke presented herself as a body without identity, in which she did not present herself to be the object of any viewers gaze; her naked body was an audacious statement of self-assertion. Smithson and Krasner painted their bodies as the canvas of an act. Krasners self-portraits and Smithsons self-portraits are self-portraits as well, showing both the artist and the other person as two distinct individuals. His self-portraits of Krasner are both emotional and humorous, in that both relate to the self in a manner that is both confrontational and ironic. Smithson used his body as a means of identifying with the other, and it was therefore both accurate and disturbing to see the artist as a symbolic image of both self and other.
Wheatley has crafted a uniquely imaginative world in which the most private aspects of reality are explored through the most direct of means.This exhibition demonstrated that Wheatley is one of the most interesting artists in the Bay Area. Her work is rich in a multitude of associations and associations that are deeply personal and yet also come together in a poetic way. Wheatley, a recovering alcoholic, recently turned from a yearlong battle with alcoholism and is now a mother and a grandmother again. She also has a young daughter, and her recent paintings reveal a heightened awareness of the role her art can play in her life. The artist has spoken of wanting to share her art with her daughter, and she is hoping to be given that gift.
In the past Wheatley has created landscapes that are beautiful, and she is at her best when she creates an atmosphere of quiet, beautiful light. In her most recent work, Wheatley has continued to explore the possibilities of painting, and the potential of drawing as an extension of the body. Her paintings are delicate, lush, and overflowing with emotion. Wheatley is one of the few artists who can command such a wide range of styles and techniques.
The 16-mm film, House of the Orange House, 1983, shows a family of two young women, their hair dyed orange, living in a house in a vast, beautiful landscape. The two young women play hide-and-seek with the coyotes they hunt. They are actually hunting for a hide from a coyote they have killed. The film is set in an old-fashioned house that seems to evoke the 50s. The bright-orange paint, glistening pools of paint, and polished chrome-and-silver fixtures, as well as the stark contrast between the worn and modern house and the pink-painted, overgrown garden in the background remind us that this is a living art object. House of the Orange House is an accurate representation of the struggles of the gay male family living with AIDS. This is a powerful and telling film. It shows the painters struggle with the desire to express his love and vulnerability in the mundane world of the domestic, with its often awkward attempts to embody a love that is shared by several people.The New York Public Librarys Reading Room, 1983, offers an opportunity for an individual to read and explore a range of art that addresses issues of sexuality, gender identity, and public health. Its a joyous occasion, and not just for those who are already familiar with the work of the artists and for those who would like to meet more of the artists in person. The library is a repository for art that provides a place to express and reflect on ones identity, and to exchange ideas and experiences about who we are as individuals. The reading room is a place to learn about art, and also a place to reflect on the work of art. It is a great opportunity to engage in art, to participate in a conversation about art, and to have a new understanding.