I attended a play-reading held at the artist S.J.C.’s large studio in Laguna Beach, California. The studio was spacious with oil paintings by the well-known expressionist artist surrounding the 100 chairs set up in the center of the room. The reading of a new play would begin at 7:30 P.M. so I had time to wander among her paintings.
I had seen the artist’s work exhibited in many places and only recently in the main dining room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in South Laguna. They were vividly colored creations of several people in differing situations, often parties and social events, some serious, many bawdy, but all eliciting emotions and action which could not be expressed by the most realistic painters of the past four centuries. Without question the artist knew human anatomy well, but her oil paintings had no exacting, photographically correct structures. Not one muscle or skin group was perfectly portrayed and yet each figure expressed an action, an emotion, a sensation and an event as if a motion picture had been used. The dour or romantic or sensuous expressions, the motions of the arms and the casual unclothed breast expressed more life than life itself. Here was an exaggeration of life, a hyperbole of expression that the artist conveyed with a few careful, artful strokes of her brush.
I wandered about the gallery prior to the play-reading, passing before each painting and realizing that the artist had captured an ongoing moment, an emotion and a certain realism that made each painting a masterpiece. The subtle qualities of her artistry were almost beyond understanding…I felt the emotions, the passion, the moment. The colors were vibrant, the liquor glasses in the women’s hands captivating, the characters fascinating and more real than real. The drunken businessman, the puzzled loner, the ogling roue’ staring down at the flamboyant woman whose dress had slid down exposing one sagging breast.
This was passion and expressionism of a genius; a short blond-haired woman who let her life and experiences flow from her brain and her heart through her fingers and her brush onto canvas. It was as if she had bared her soul to us and yet was able to stand away from her pictures with a smile, thinking she had fooled us and believing she had concealed her innermost thoughts. Aha… though. She had bared her soul to me and as I looked from her to her paintings I knew the woman and knew her thoughts and passions, her loves and faults and fears.
I sat through the play-reading…it was mediocre and I kept glancing at the artwork realizing that the greatest playwright was not the author of the spoken words but of the canvasses on the walls. I went to the studio of Sandra Jones Campbell to hear a play and I was gifted with a museum of unspoken words, the true play of the evening!