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Quinlan show offers art with a message

Coastal conservation among topics in winter exhibit by quartet of artists

POSTED: December 9, 2010 1:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Resident intern Kate Nelson, left, and assistant director Paula Lindner look over Barry Sons' "Tree Holding Back the Sea" and "When Oil Spills" works Wednesday at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. Sons' exhibition sheds light on the recent catastrophic event of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its destruction of south Louisiana's marshes.

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Barry Sons has something to say.

He's seen the way the marshes from his native Louisiana have been treated and believes it's time for a change, especially in light of last summer's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"We need the oil fields, but let's be responsible about it. Don't let that happen again," said Sons, an Atlanta-based artist.

"The marsh provides protection from hurricanes — for every 2.7 miles of marsh, a tidal surge is decreased by 1 foot — and it provides food for our families. The marsh is family and you gotta take care of family."

Sons, the headlining artist in the Quinlan Visual Arts Center's latest art installation, is trying to convey his message in a series of oversized oil paintings.

Each of the 16 panels conveys a different message about the importance of preserving coastal marshes. The first four panels depict summer, fall, winter and spring on the marshes of his childhood.

"These are real places," Sons said.

Other scenes depict expressionistic and impressionistic portrayals of how the oil spill has tainted the marshes.

The nonprofit Gainesville art organization's latest showing also includes works from Judy Bynum George ("Breakthrough to Beauty in a Hostile World"), Jill Schultz-McGannon ("From the Source") and Bob White ("81 Pots").

"We are really, very excited to have four exceptional solo artists showing their work," said Amanda McClure, Quinlan executive director.

The other artists' work will include still-life and landscape paintings. The center will hold an opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today, at its gallery, 514 Green St..

The reception is free for Quinlan members and guests of the artists. There's a suggested $5 contribution for everyone else.

During the reception, Sons will be sharing poems that he's written about each of the canvases in his "As It Should Be: The Story of the Louisiana Marsh" show. The poems tell a story, which conveys Sons' wish for marshes all around the country to be treated with respect and preserved for the future.

"For eight years, I have worked to bring this work to fruition and here it is — a drop in the Gulf, but it is my drop," Sons said.

"My hope is that some day, my grandchildren can stand with their grandchildren — toes shoved into the blue-green clay of the river bank — and show them the wonder-filled south Louisiana that was my backyard."



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