Isaac Shari

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Isaac Shari.

Isaac Shari named herself after her son

by Michael Smith

Not too many years ago, Shari gave birth to a child, Isaac, who died after living for less than one day. Because he did not live long enough to have his own voice, Shari took his name and her own first name to establish her art signature. Isaac has legally changed her name and answers to both Isaac and Shari.

Isaac began taking drawing lessons twice a week at the age of nine from Mae Hogan, "a very Bohemian woman." As an adult, Shari audited art classes at U.S.A. and on the Eastern Shore but soon decided that formal training would not benefit her. Specifically, she realized this in a class one day when she grabbed the arm of the instructor (who had a brush in his hand) as he reached toward the painting before her. "You can't touch the canvas." Her words surprised her and made her feel territorial. Though she has had scant formal art training, Isaac states that she has had the opportunity to study with instructors whose real-life experience was more beneficial to her than their academic counterparts.

Shari formerly worked with an interior decorator, producing floor cloths, painted furniture, house paintings, folk art pieces, and still lifes for commission. The pieces were "made to order," but allowed her to paint when her own work was not selling. Though proud of what she produced, it was not "her work" and did not bear her name.

Isaac works a canvas for six months. She usually starts with a sketch and then transfers what she likes in the drawing to paint on canvas. Working on a new painting is very intimate: "There's an intense emotional relationship between the artist and the canvas." Isaac explains that there is a "back-and-forth conversation" with the piece, a spontaneous interplay where she paints and then something in the piece responds, requiring her to attempt again to paint the piece. After the "love affair" is over, Shari puts the canvas aside for a while and works on other paintings, returning to the piece later to add details.

Isaac thinks of her paintings as transcending her, "like a child leaving a bad parent." She names each piece by using a description of a character in the painting.

Shari, for the most part, will not talk about her work or what the paintings mean. Experience has shown her that her own comments detract from the thoughts of the viewer. Isaac does enjoy, however, hearing what is said about her work, finding that the viewer sees more than she does; Shari believes that she learns a lot about the viewer by what he or she brings to the interpretation. Thinking of herself as a visual poet, Isaac can acknowledge the legitimacy of the view without confirming it.

Isaac did say, though, that her work generally has a woman in the center of each painting and that that part is autobiographical. She acknowledges common elements in her paintings: boats, flight, and animal-like people. Shari further conceded that her work suggests gender structures (male vs. female) and religious themes.

Allow me for a moment, dear reader, to step out of the third-person omniscient narrator role long enough to express my own untrained opinion. The paintings I have seen provide a most interesting cast of characters. The people who populate the canvas appear displaced, as though they live uncertain lives in an unknowing world. Nevertheless, there is some sense of comfort in the multitude's shared surroundings. Though the subjects appear lonely, they are not alone. But, I digress (and Shari neither confirms nor disavows the observations just made).

Isaac states that she appreciates all artwork but did not know of any particular artist or style that influenced her. She likes the Impressionists, Braque and the development of Cubism, and the Flemish because of their technique. She likes the balanced color palette of Bosch as opposed to the more modern, lighter palettes. Shari further stated that although she feels compelled to paint, she is "not in pursuit of something religious or philosophical like most artists are" when she begins working on a piece. "The world is very large and a single painting can't say much about it."

Locally, Isaac's work can be seen at Gallery 54 exclusively (though she formerly has had pieces at Koch Gallery). Shari states that the proprietor, Leila Hollowell, works the artists without directing their work. Shari also shows her art at Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina; she was lucky to have the hard-to-get- into gallery take on her work as an experiment where she promptly sold two pieces. Isaac would like to do shows but has been unable to amass enough work at one time to do them.

Isaac tries not to compromise her work, remembering advice given her by a dear friend to not forget who she was. It is readily apparent to this viewer that she has remained true to her friend and her own vision. Likewise, this reviewer is unlikely to forget the images Isaac Shari shares on canvas.

The "act" tonight is painter Isaac Shari

Shari: "These are my former works, and I am going to take you through a slide show."

With her straight, long black hair and dark eye makeup, Shari looks and sounds as if she was sent to the salon from Central Casting.

Shari: "This is my general style: They call it figurative and surrealistic."

The artist shows slides of her rather sexually explicit work, which was actually quite good. But after about 15 minutes of art talk, most the guests just seem restless or, like Patricia, exhausted.

The questions peter out and the guests start conversations among themselves. Pascal, another English teacher, confides she was just hoping for a repeat of the best night she ever had here: When Yves, a Parisian acoustic guitar player, sat down, not to play the tunes of Charles Aznavour, but those of Crosby, Stills and Nash -- and the greatest fun of all at this Paris Salon.


Pickens Museum

Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. Seeking to attain his tribe's highest war honor by touching his enemy. This action among indigenous peoples is called "Counting Coup".
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. “Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp” is a bronze created by Osage Artist John Free. The bronze, eight feet high and twelve feet long) was enlarged to 1-1/4 life size through the efforts of John Free of the Bronze Horse foundry in Pawhuska and Hugh Pickens. Pictured (L-R): Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. “Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman” is a mural painted by fine artist Daniel Pickens. Daniel was born in Lima, Peru in 1974 and is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. This mural is at our Ponca City location.
“"War Club" by Native Artist Yatika Starr Fields was recently acquired from Garth Greenam Gallery to Pickens Museum. Personal and social struggle have long been integral to the artist’s practice. After joining the Water Protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, Fields increasingly centered the Indigenous history of hope and struggle in his work, particularly in his studio practice. In his 2017 series, Tent Metaphor Standing Rock, Field recovered tents after the infamous February 22, 2017 police raid on the protesters. The artist recombined the vivid tenting material—the mainstay of middle-class camping holidays that has become an icon of homelessness and protest movements—into traditional Indigenous patterns, anti-pipeline slogans, and into dynamic, compelling abstract compositions. As in his graffiti works, Fields blurs the line between abstraction and representation, creating stylistic compositions out of recognizable elements, and setting them against dynamic, swirling fields of color and twisting forms. The works blur the boundaries between political polemic and abstraction, between distress, resistance and hope.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. Our mural "The Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman" is located in City Central at our Ponca City location.
Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry and Art. Pickens Museum displays art works at NOC Tonkawa campus. Pictured (L-R): Dr. Cheryl Evans, NOC President, Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum, and Sheri Snyder, NOC Vice President for Development and Community Relations. (photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College) This art is at our Tonkawa location
Native American Artist Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum.
The World's Largest Naja. Future location of Pickens Museum on Route 60 and "U" Street West of Ponca City
Architectural Renderings of Pickens Museum.
Aerial View from East of Future location of Pickens Museum along Route 60 at "U" Street West of Ponca City
Display of Turquoise Jewelry.
Drum player by Allan Houser. This stone carving is part of the collection at Pickens Museum.
"Red Man" by Native American Artist Fritz Scholder. Pickens Museum Director Hugh Pickens on right.
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp.
Native American Jewelry Artist Tonya Rafael with a silver frame she created to honor my wife Sr. S.J. Pickens. My wife and Tonya worked together over the years creating new jewelry art pieces. My wife had an eye for color and would often design a spectacular piece and ask Tonya to execute it for her. A skilled silversmith, Tonya would sometimes stay in our guest house, set up a workshop, and work for days at a time on a Squash Blossom, Bolo, or Bracelet my wife commissioned. The piece is a silver picture frame that Tonya cut out of thick silver plate. Around the edge of the picture frame are 95 small turquoise stones. In the top is a large spiny oyster stone in the shape of a heart. The frame contains a photo that Tonya took of my wife a few years ago. Dr. Pickens is wearing one of her favorite outfits and if you look closely you can see a special squash blossom and necklace that Tonya created for my wife. In the bottom of the frame is an inscription.
Native American Artist Jolene Bird. Jolene Bird is an accomplished artist who learned her craft from her grandfather over 20 years ago. Jolene makes her jewelry in the tradition of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. This is a Fender Stratocaster guitar onto which Jolene has attached pieces of Kingman and Sonoran Turquoise highlighted with Jet. The stars are in Abalone, Mother of Pearl, Pipestone, Yellow Serpentine, and Spiny Oyster. The artistry in this piece is simply breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed. Consider that this is a three dimensional mosaic, a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle if you will. Jolene told me that each individual piece of turquoise had to be cut, shaped, and ground down to fit perfectly with the other pieces. Each individual piece probably took six to eight hours to produce and there are literally hundreds of pieces covering the guitar.
American Indian by Paul Manship This piece at Pickens Museum is the only known existing copy of this sculpture.
Painting by Peruvian Artist Josue Sanchez. Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens Pickens Museum

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