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Stark Art Gallery

Between Dallas and Oklahoma City on Interstate 35, a colorful advertising campaign showcases the city of Pauls Valley in south central Oklahoma. Highway billboards explode with eye-catching statements and comic book artwork that promises Pauls Valley is "not your ordinary small town!"

One of its many attractions is the not so ordinary Stark Art Gallery, home of not so ordinary art by extraordinary artists.

This spring, Kevin Stark, whose artwork has been seen around the globe, opened his latest entrepreneurial venture, Stark Art Gallery--a creative environment where his own art comes to life, and other artists' works are exhibited. The space includes an intimate venue for his band Squeaky Burger and other talented musicians and events.

Stark's artwork is expressed in colorful illustrations of children's books, the design of popular action figures, and his undeniably unique paintings of mature women. When his busy life allows moments for self, Stark opts to paint women of years whom, through his impassioned eye, proudly project the beauty and strength etched in their faces.

Current exhibits include the magical mosaics of Robin Criss-Praytor. "I have always been intrigued by chaos and broken things," she says of her artistic motivation. "They can be beautiful, painful, whimsical and foreboding." Criss-Praytor's work speaks of color and contrast, reflections of life--the Humpty-Dumpty theory revealed in its most attractive state. From multi-colored "Mania," to the symphony of black and red in "Red Rhapsody," she weaves the shattered remains of everyday items such as plates, tiles, mirrors, and coffee cups into things appealingly original.

Perhaps because of her strong Native American heritage, some of Gigi Webb's photography focuses on the fickleness of nature. Her Washita series captures the river's seasonal dance as it meets the whims of weather. The Fog series reveals the soundless peace of misty mornings and dewy dusks. Though most of Webb's work maintains the reality of the captured moment, her Rural America series places a gentle, surreal touch on the scenes of small-town living. "I spent years in big cities, so life in the country strikes me as somewhat surreal." This is apparent in her Rockwellesque series.

Cole Gallup explains the form and technique of his startlingly stunning collages this way, "Each piece is on one plane and only employs paper, fabric and glue. No ink is used, no paint applied; no computer editing or re-imaging...just paper within paper--not paper on paper. For each shape I cut out, there is another to be cut in--fitting precisely together to generate the illusion." He captures the essence of people in moments of daily life. None of his portraits seem contrived. They seem to flow from a profound personal spring. Gallup is also a poet and that sensitivity is depicted seductively in his art.

Also on exhibit is the child-like brilliance of Bobby Reeves whose work is deceptively simple. Reeves tells of his fascination with what makes things tick-- like the world and politics. His curiosity unfolds in his paintings. At first glance, his art strongly suggests the crayon drawing of a child, but there is something that catches the eye and demands a second, more thoughtful look. Acrylic and conté are frequently his mediums of choice, which gives pieces like "Dobber and Lexie in the Sky with Diamonds" a kindergarten joyfulness and leaves the viewer entranced.

Stark Art Gallery is located at 211 South Chickasaw in Pauls Valley, Okla. Come by, call 405-238-5852, or visit www.starkartgallery.net.

Editor's note: Susen Foster is the owner of Greater Success Advertising. She is the author of numerous travel books. Susen can be reached at www.greatersuccess.com or call 580-622-5408.



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