A little white house with plenty of color

"Cross Creek Morning" is one of several works by Gary Borse on display at the Annual Members Group Show at the Melrose Bay Gallery.

Courtesy of Melrose Bay Gallery
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 3:08 a.m.
Which way do I go? Which way do I go?
It's another Friday night, and there are too many options to choose from. Down east, that little white house on the side of the road, the Melrose Bay Gallery, 101 State Road 26 in Melrose, is hosting its opening reception for the Annual Members Group Show. If you have never stopped in, this might be a good time.
At first glance, and maybe second, the gallery resembles just another cute little backwater gift shop. Walking in will not immediately dispel that impression. Ornaments hang in the window of the four-season porch; rooms are more hallways than halls. This is no Cofrin Center, with soaring walls and canted ceilings, but as you look a little closer, you will find an inordinate amount of quality work. Well-known artists such as Margaret Tolbert, Eleanor Blair and Gary Borse adorn the white walls.
Borse's work particularly stands out. You can see his "Aripeka Wind" glowing from the street. Southern heat radiates off a canvas that depicts stands of palms to one side of a prairie. Blends of pink and blue shock you at first, but after a minute seem very right. Next you notice the dabs of green and red spread liberally through the trees. What started out as pink-flamingo overkill transforms into Caribbean Christmas.
Another Borse composition, called "Tide Styx/River Styx" shows several trees reflected in the foreground lake. His use of vivid colors combined with a very impressionistic method creates a completely engaging piece. You can tell where land meets the water, but not easily.
The main viewing room, located in the back of the gallery, showcases a variety of styles and artists. Lissa Friedman has several paintings on display. "Newman's Lake" is quite attractive. While not the most original subject, Friedman captures a wonderful sense of realism in this piece. The burnt sienna tips on one palm add convincing detail to the landscape.
Near the front desk is a series of paintings and prints by Steven Thrift. They all have a whimsical flavor. The recurring theme is an elephant's travails in suburban life. The collection may have been originally developed for a children's book, says gallery operator Ellen West. Whatever the case, the humor is infectious.
If you can't make the Friday night reception, there is an open house on Dec. 10 that follows the 15-minute Melrose Christmas Parade. Santa and mixed media - what more can you ask for?
  • n n Back in town, the monthly Art Walk is running from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, with art galleries and shops showcasing some of the best in local artwork. (The event is normally the last Friday of the month but was moved to this Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.) Wild Iris Books, 802 W. University Ave., is showing several pieces, including an interesting collage by Harriet Roth. The combination of angels, flowers and cherubs gives a seasonal touch to the piece, though it may not have been intended.
  • n n Downtown gallery matriarch Eleanor Blair, of the Eleanor Blair Studio, 113 S. Main St., will be hosting her Studio Holiday Party. If I felt pulled in two directions, Blair has it worse. She has her own party, plus the Melrose Bay show; she may have to break out a clone.
  • n n Tucked away behind Taco Bell on University Avenue is the WARPHaus Gallery, 818 NW. 1st Ave. From 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, the gallery will be hosting an exhibit called "Looks Good on Paper." The works will be drawn from advanced drawing and printmaking students at the University of Florida. I can't tell you much about this show, as I have not been to WARPHaus yet, but I am curious. I guess we will all have to find out Friday. Warning: a quick drive-by did not immediately divulge its location, but marked parking in the nearby strip mall says it is close by.
  • n n If your Friday night is already booked, have no fear: there is more going on throughout the next few weeks. Another UF-related exhibit that looks promising is the Florida Fly-In exhibit at the Reitz Union on campus. The show has its opening from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and runs through Jan. 13. Both photography and written work will be on display. The exhibit documents an annual weeklong trip by UF journalism students, which this year went to Placencia, Belize. Expect more on this to follow.
    That's all, folks.
    David Hackett can be reached at davidmhackett@cox.net.
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