“North to South, East to West, The 2 of Us”

half Page ad for North to South East to West Chuck & Fulden  Wissinger

Beyond Arts Gallery presents its next exhibit, showcasing the work of world-traveled artists Fulden Sara and Charles Wissinger.

Life and human existence is a dance of polar opposites, according to Charles Wissinger. But at the heart of contrasting world views, religion or culture, peace prevails.

It’s a central theme being presented by the work of master artists Fulden Sara and Charles Wissinger who open their newest exhibit entitled North to South, East to West: The 2 of us at the Beyond Gallery in June.

Sara is a lecturer at the Art Department at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and Wissinger is professor and director of the Art Program at TAMUK.

“We are total opposites, but we have an attraction,” Fulden said. “With my culture, that Islamic influence also affects Chuck’s art. We don’t really do religious pieces, but we have some pieces that we try to show that no matter what happens we can be friends, we can be in peace.

“Our pieces try to convey that we are not so different, even if your religion is different, we can still communicate with people. I think that the main thing we try to show is that we manage to work together, and we manage to live together,” Fulden said. “This is our life. It’s all about art. It’s what we talk about. It’s what we breathe.”

Born and raised in Istanbul, and ultimately packed into a cosmopolitan melting pot with 15 million people, Sara says she was inspired by the city that fostered her lifelong fascination with the different cultures of the world.

Sara, who is of European descent mixed with Byzantine and Seljuk-Ottoman culture, says growing up in the one the most exotic cultural crossroads in the world has compelled her to try to capture those moments by fusing opposing qualities, and attempt to create harmony out of dissonance.

Working with clay comes close to capturing the ensuing chaos of merging cultures and religion in Turkey, she said. Clay captures fluid energy while requiring patient and methodical manipulation, which is itself a metaphor for the east and west, push and pull she experienced over nearly three decades in the Middle East.

In her work, Sara says her 10 years as a graphic designer often results in a style that promotes crisp geometry, but imbued with an Arabesque fluidity consistent with Turkish calligraphy. Strong texture against clean edges creates a sense of tension, she said.

The juxtaposition of rigid geometry and animated organic element is a metaphor for the interplay of opposing forces that enlivens Turkish culture.

“At first, I didn’t realize how much he (Charles) influenced me and how much I influenced him,” Sara said. “I have always been told that we have a very different style. I am into color. My art pieces are very colorful. Chuck has a different and more subdued color and tone, more earth tones and more textural surfaces.

“But when you look at everything together, when we put the exhibition together, we didn’t realize how much we actually influence each other,” she said.

If Sara’s work represents the hustle and bustle of cultures of the big city half a world away, Wissinger’s work is comparable to the peace you find in silence and the pleasures of simplicity.

Hailing from Appalachian Pennsylvania, Wissinger says his intent is to create quiet focal points that elicit contemplative reflection.

Lineal narrative gives way to an interplay of abstract, symbolic and metaphorical juxtaposition that attempts to reveal the possibility of a richer holistic way of viewing life, he says.

Like Fulden, he is intensely attracted to working with clay, but prefers to combine it with steel, wood, stone, bone and random objects. The message he says is a passionate plea for humanity to question, examine and to ultimately discuss opposing ideas in order to find the truth.

His work spans across a spectrum of concepts, stylistic approaches, and media: from loosely narrative to the purely abstract. Pieces encompass stoneware mugs to monolithic salt fired sculptures; from drawing to porcelain to wood, steel, stone and clay mixes; from intimate mythscapes to six meter high public murals.

“He always works with large scale sculpture pieces. I suggested that we work on small scale pieces together,” Sara said. “It wasn’t so easy working together. It doesn’t mean that you don’t get along well with somebody. But we are both demanding people. We have our battles, but I think it works out pretty good. Also, it’s good to see…I have one approach, he has a different approach.

“It was good to see how we incorporated,” she said. “He might be good with one thing, I might be good with another thing. I’m good with glazing for example. I think we complement each other with that.”

Beyond Arts Gallery will host the Wissinger’s exhibition, North to South, East to West, The 2 of Us beginning with an opening reception on Thursday, June 12.

The exhibit will run until August 30.The public is invited to meet the artists on opening night at the Beyond Arts Gallery located in downtown Harlingen.

The gallery’s main goal is to showcase conceptually and aesthetically diverse works from local Rio Grande Valley artists. This exciting new venue is affiliated with Beyond Arts & More Magazine in an effort to promote the visual arts in South Texas.

“The Beyond Art Gallery is both honored and excited to working with such a dynamic couple,” said Beyond Gallery Curator, Jessica Salazar McBride. “After a few minutes of meeting the Wissingers, anyone can clearly see two people who are dedicated to their art, education, and to each other.

“Both artists are amazingly talented, yet very diverse in the individual styles of ceramic artwork,” McBride said. “This show will truly be an incredible experience, and we are so excited to be hosting this wonderful exhibition.”

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