By Darryl E. Owens
Walt Disney, ever the creator, put his own spin on a familiar quote, once musing, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I know I like it.”
That sentiment often is internalized by art lovers who want to add beauty to their homes but are gunshy about their artistic acumen.
It’s a sentiment that led Orlando interior designer José J. Cabrera to help the skittish embrace their inner art aficionado and support regional artists by mounting and sponsoring Visual Tension: Artspace 2021, an exhibition staged in November at Mills Gallery in Orlando.
And like Disney, Cabrera knows what he likes: that includes some 30 paintings and sculptures from eight artists — including two larger installations and a pair of smaller sculptures from Beacon College associate professor of art Russell Bellamy.
“I am always excited to be asked to participate in an exhibition,” said Bellamy, chair of Beacon’s art department.
An exciting experience, sure, but also “daunting as well as motivating,” he added. “The conception of the exhibition began nearly a year ago and it was a bit of a crunch to get everything completed in time.”
His featured piece, “Clones,” a Stonehenge-y platoon of concrete sentries, graces the cover of the November/December issue of Orlando Arts magazine (the accompanying article about the exhibit begins on page 38).
“Given the quality of the work included in the exhibition, I was very excited to have my work included in the article,” Bellamy said. “With the number of talented artists working and exhibiting in Central Florida, it was an honor to have my piece chosen for the cover.”
The exhibition, which closed on November 20, featured artists Krista Berman, Ben Van Beusekom, BOY KONG, DECOY, Brian Heeter, Michael Knapp, Charles Marklin, Beau Wild, and Bellamy.
The main reason Cabrera, who founded CL Studio in 1999, staged the event was “as a thank you to local artists because we have so many here. In this show, seven [were] from Central Florida, one [was] from Tampa, and one [was] from New Smyrna. They are all very special in their own right and after the year we had, I thought people would be ready to go out and see something different. Especially since they are taking a more critical look at their homes and might not like what they see on their walls.”
Bellamy had known and worked for a decade with Cabrera, who’d included some of Bellamy’s creations in homes he has worked on.
Even so, Kristy Lee Green, Mills Gallery’s artist-in-residence and education specialist, said the gallery strives to bring in more regional artists. This exhibition excited her because it allowed her to do just that.
“I had already been trying to get some of these artists in,” Green said in a press release. “And the ones I didn’t know I researched and was impressed with the talent.”
Bellamy’s creative talent pulses in the featured works.
“Clones,” his installation of concrete sculptures, includes 86 concrete pieces holding sway amongst a bed of blue poof balls. The other larger installation, titled “Organigram,” includes six steel sculptures and a larger central piece made of rubber, copper, and stainless steel, also displayed among blue poof balls.
His two small sculptures, “Delusions,” a steel and cardboard creation, and an epoxy piece titled “Grandeur” round out his contributions to the exhibit.
“This [was] a very exciting exhibition that includes some pretty amazing artwork from local artists,” Bellamy said. “It’s always good to meet other artists and see how they are interpreting current issues through their chosen mediums.”