St. John Tradewinds News

Mixed Media Gallery Collection Set To Amaze Crowd at Premier Opening Feb. 1

Mixed Media Gallery owner and artist Mike Kolb.

“Yo-Yo Ma doesn’t take a day off,” Mixed Media owner and custom furniture crafter Mike Kolb said about how much time he spends in his workshop adjacent to the new gallery he and wife Eileen Victor are opening in Red Hook.

Kolb approaches his work with the dedication of a world-class musician and that’s just what he expects from the artists he and Victor are featuring in their new 2,000-square foot Mixed Media Gallery in Red Hook across from Marina Market.

Housed in a former industrial space, the all white gallery feels like a slice of Soho in St. Thomas with 16-foot ceilings covered in white canvas panels and bamboo ramp walkways winding around the perimeter of the brightly-lit room.

A premier opening is set for Friday, February 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with an artist reception featuring Denny Dillon of New York.

Dillon’s Original Drawings and Art Boxes
A veteran stage, television and film actress, Dillon is also an eminent artist with a strong following of collectors who eagerly swipe up her original drawings and mixed media “art inside the box” pieces.

The diorama reminiscent pieces are “unique, one of a kind, miniature worlds made from found antique postcards, photographs and miniature people,” according to the artists’ Web site www.thedrawingroomonline.com. “They are all inside beautiful antique wooden boxes that — like Alice through the looking glass — you can fall into and rediscover.”

Dillon’s work fits the bill of what Kolb and Victor, former Big Apple residents themselves, envision for their new gallery.

“The whole idea is to have very special objects in every art form,” said Kolb. “Eventually we’ll have pottery, glass, clothing, paintings and mixed media. Everything will feature strong design and dramatic pieces, all very carefully selected.”

Featuring Local Artists as They’ve Never Been Seen
In addition to Dillon, Mixed Media’s premier opening will also feature works by St. Thomas and St. John artists Herman Smith, Henry Gonzales, Ziya Neema, Sietu Johnson, Kim Holland and Caroll Sirhakis.

Johnson’s works include bright Caribbean paintings on thick water color paper, prints and three dimensional frieze assemblages.

“These are like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” Kolb said.

Neema’s African-evoking over-sized, unframed canvases depict visceral forms in bright, powerful colors. Sirhakis uses organic materials, upon which she creates her own impressions, to assemble haunting assembled creations.

Detailed Paintings, Jewelry
Gonzales, who has a strong local following, uses mixed media and thick brush strokes to create detailed paintings which beg a closer look. St. John based Holland designs original, one of a kind jewelry in a variety of mediums.

Fellow Love City resident Smith turns out deceptively simple looking carvings in lignum vitae that evoke strong emotions. Kolb’s eclectic furniture, including benches and tables with intricate details and interesting finishes, will also be shown in the premier opening.

The pieces are both large and small, and like  Mixed Media itself, highlight the drama of the art.

“The space has a New York style with a Caribbean charm,” said Kolb about Mixed Media. “There are intimate areas for smaller pieces and massive areas where I can display large pieces in a way that really shows them off. That is part of the whole point — to show artists’ work in a way they haven’t been yet.”

Each of the works of art is displayed so that it doesn’t detract from any other piece, and allows each to be defined singularly.

Respecting Each Piece
“I give the pieces the respect they deserve,” Kolb said. “It limits what I can put in there, but people can imagine what they can do with the art and where they can show it in their homes this way. It takes a lot of space to be able to do that.”

“So many houses needed a strong, dramatic piece for a certain space,” continued Kolb. “And that resource isn’t easy to find. Good work takes time and finding good work takes time.”

While allowing each piece to stand alone, Mixed Media also offers customers various platforms from which to view the works from different levels and perspectives.

“Great design works at a distance and close up,” Kolb said. “It works at various levels too. The differences are subtle, but if it’s not designed properly, it doesn’t work.”

Not content to rest on his laurels, Kolb plans to continually add pieces and artists to the gallery’s collection.

Letting Artists Explore
“Things will get more and more interesting,” he said. “Things will be changing and evolving, but will constantly involve very interesting work.”

Mixed Media is a gift to both the art community and art-loving community, according to the owners.

“The space and how I can display the work will let artists stretch themselves and step outside their boundaries because I can display such different work,” said Kolb. “And it’s a treat for the community to see the influences and this kind of work.”

The gallery is also a gift for Kolb himself.

“It’s a great environment to be able to make furniture and display it in such a dramatic fashion,” said Kolb. “I’m like a kid in a candy store.”

And in a gift to nature, Victor and Kolb will donate a portion of the proceeds from the premier opening on Friday, February 1, to the Friends of the V.I. National Park.

Don’t miss this exciting opening. Located right across from Marina Market in Red Hook, Mixed Media’s premier opening will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information call 513-7200.