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Aspects of life in three-dimensional art

Immaterial qualities of human characteristics come to life in marble and bronze sculpted by Marla Samuel and three-dimensional paintings by Vince Carl.

The two artists will be featured in "True to Form," a new exhibit that will open Friday, Jan. 30, at the Rogue Gallery & Art Center, 40 S. Bartlett St., Medford. A reception for the artists will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, at the gallery.

Samuel's medium of choice is Italian marble or Yule marble from Colorado for her busts, torsos and full figures, though some of her bronze statues will be included in the exhibit. Samuel's subtle figurative work — details of skin, places where muscle meets bone — is enhanced by the properties of marble.

"It's my favorite material to carve because of its ethereal quality," Samuel says. "I love the light is captured inside the stone, and I love the nuances of shadow and form that marble translates into the human figure."

Samuel has worked out of her studio in Phoenix since 2002. Born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles, she began working with sculpture at the age of 5 when her parents took her to St. Elmo's Village, the art community founded in the '60s by Roderick and Rozzell Sykes in the middle of Los Angeles.

"The Sykeses wanted to build a space where kids could explore their creativity," Samuel says. "The place included just a few old houses back then, but it was an incredible place."

Samuel went on to study art at the University of California at Santa Cruz, then worked for six months as an apprentice carving marble in the Antognazzi family's studio in Pietrasanta, Italy. Later, she lived in Santa Fe and El Rito in New Mexico.

When Samuel first moved to the Rogue Valley, John Cline agreed to represent her at Davis and Cline Gallery in Ashland.

Samuel also was commissioned by the Medford Branch Library for a 50-foot steel installation representing a quote by Henry David Thoreau.

"It was a little different than carving marble," Samuel says. "I got really savvy with vector graphics on a computer and found a font that somewhat matched Thoreau's handwriting. I enjoyed working on that piece very much." The installation hangs on the second floor of the downtown library.

Samuel says she likes to work with life-size pieces when she does portraits or busts. Her bronze pieces are smaller in scale.

"Bronze is such a huge material. It's heavy and expensive," Samuel says. "I can use it for commissions, but the work I do for myself must be more manageable."

The largest bronze piece Samuel has completed to date is a commission for a 12-foot figure, while much of her own pieces are 20 to 24 inches in height.

Samuel's work with sculpture and live models has led her to a new endeavor. She's pursuing a master's in social work through a distance learning program at Portland State University. Her goal is to offer art therapy to people.

"Whenever I worked with models, I would try to get inside them," Samuel says. "That was what I wanted to portray in my work. I noticed that a lot of the models had healing experiences during that process. It made me understand the value of art."

Carl says that his figurative paintings develop much the same way as a person's character — in layers. His use of acrylic paints mixed with matte or gloss mediums builds deep surfaces, and he wet-sands between the layers to give them a translucent look. His use of color, gesture and lines designs and manipulates the space.

"I also attempt to integrate the figures into the world around them by overlapping the images around the edges of the boards, giving them more of a three-dimensional look," he says.

In the multi-step process that requires time for each layer to dry, he is able to recognize the unexpected, and he adds gold leaf to help describe the value of being, he says.

"My influences come from poring over what artists such as Kokoschka, Schiele, Picasso and Rauschenberg have done," Carl says. "Rauschenberg for his mixed media, he was a modern artist that pushed the envelope, and Schiele for his delineations of the human form, for his expressive lines. Looking at their work has given me ideas for my images."

Carl studied art at Miami University in Ohio and later with artists Mitchell Kaufman-Katz and Pat Enos. He moved to Grants Pass in 1980 and raised a family.

"When the kids were old enough to be on their own, I got back into art," Carl says. He attended Rogue Community College and began exploring figurative art in the early '90s, and he has worked out of his studio in Wimer for the past couple of years. Carl earned awards for his paintings at the 2006 Spirit of the Rogue exhibit and in 2004 and 2005 at the Art Along the Rogue exhibits. His work is represented at the Josefa Kate Gallery in Portland.

See msamuelfineart.com and www.vcarlgallery.com for more about the two artists.

"True to Form" will run through Feb. 28 at the Rogue Gallery. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Call 772-8118.

Aspects of life in three-dimensional art