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WHERE THE MYSTERY LIES: The Art of Patte Ormsby
Front Porch Fredericksburg | Written by Amy Millis | Published November 2012

The Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts presents “Ave, Patina,” an exhibition of works by local artist Patte Ormsby, at the Members Gallery for the month of November. Ormsby’s paintings, an all-new body of work, are fantastic, hard-hitting explorations of color and layering. Her work has an aged quality, yet possesses a distinct urbane, avant-garde style, as she continues her interpretation of the visual mystique surrounding Renaissance holy paintings. Patina, a rich finish that forms on the surface metal, is central to the artwork in the exhibit. In Ormsby’s work, it invites unceasing interest.

Ormsby’s paintings are not to be simply viewed as much as they are to be experienced. They transport the viewer to a mysterious universe of impassioned color seeping through layers of patina and rust. In Menhaden, colorful silhouetted fish swim through a patinated sky in her surreal portrayal of the Manhattan Bridge and New York skyline with the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings in the distance. In this, as in all of her work, the viewer is abducted from the mundane and transported into her world, where her frenetic visual language communicates a vivid intensity from the convergence of a crackled past with a glowing present.

From her combination of oxidation processes, old-world techniques and contemporary art, springs a style delightedly foreign, detached, yet unmistakably modern. This experimentation brings Ormsby’s vision to a multilayered, see-through surface with subtleties evoking the sacred Renaissance aura she hopes to convey. Patte says, “Few times in the history of art are as symbolically and visually compelling as that of the Italian Renaissance. This inspires my painting as I use elements of deep color, texture, gold leaf and pattern to present that historical richness in a contemporary context and express the quiet solemnity yet simmering energy of places that are sacred to me.

My paintings begin with an idea about a special place or time. I’ve always been impressed by light shining through darkness, like shooting stars in a Cape Cod sky, warm light through curtained windows, or strings of light on a city bridge. It makes me wonder about the reality that exists where that light begins.” This search for light in the darkness, the melding of layers, of the old and new, lends her work an aspect of unpredictability that is never the same thing twice. In her words, “That’s where the mystery lies.”

“Ave, Patina” will show at the FCCA at 813 Sophia. Opening Reception is First Friday, 6 to 8:30 P.M.