Somewhere in our unconscious mind, the tangible memories we have can be reconstructed and distorted into fragmented abstract forms.  Abstract art goes beyond the simple pictorial images found in most art, but uses art as a mode of allegorical discourse by using basic shapes, lines and colors to represent the message rather than the imitation of pictures of everyday objects in the things we see.

Evy Katz and J.K. Thorsen redefine abstract art.  Their self-titled show at Connect Gallery, which continues through Jan. 4, allows the viewer a glimpse into the abstract process while connecting in a fundamental way with the visual forms used. 

Katz, a low vision occupational therapist, says her work in the show is motivated by a an excerpt from one of her poems, Lacunae, that reads, “This is the place of bone and spirit.  What has been constructed cell by cell; is continually torn down, is recast, is rebuilt and reformed, to be injured is not to be broken.”  Only in the past five years has she really gotten back into paintings including this series also called Lacunae

“The word ‘lacunae’ has various meanings,” she said at her opening last weekend. “It is a small interior space or inlet that is like a lagoon.  So, these are the paintings that come from my interior.  And with my semi-medical background the lacunae is also the little holes in your bones.”

“Lacuna with Peduncles” is a non-descript image of bright colors and lines.  In this piece you can see what Katz means by interior spaces.  The painting draws you in and the movement within the piece helps move the eye.  The vivid acrylic colors make the painting explode on the canvas.  “I am really interested in color and shape and space.  That is what drives my work,” Katz said.

Synesthesia is something else that inspires her.  Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense is simultaneously paired with another sense; in Katz’s case she can actually see colors when she listens to music.  She has always had this.  “Sometimes colors and things that I see are directly inspired by something I have heard and vice versa,” she added.   

Still a bit abstract, but extremely interesting are her sculptural pieces created with chicken wire Katz “found in my backyard and wanted to do more sculptural things.  So, I thought this is something I could bend and paint and I did.”  The sculptures range from a head, to a female torso, and baskets.

With her “Tempest Teapot” the large chicken wire is formed into a teapot complete with a spiral wire handle. These pieces are very delicate, but draw people in.  “I like playful things in art,” she said.

Thorsen’s paintings are completely different, but they work well with Katz’s pieces. While the latter are more free and organic in form, Thorsen’s work lends itself to a more geometric type of abstract work. 

“Apricot Hillside” is a plein-air or “in the open air” style of painting of Washington County in Nebraska. Thorsen used whole oils, glass flake, and cristobalite to create this piece.  The result is stunning. “Although I don’t adhere to one genre,” Thorsen said, “and I do not pursue themes, (unless commissioned), for several years I have been moving toward the inclusion of eco-friendlier options in my art & design production.”

The colors used in this painting are lively and intense.  The bright blue sky is juxtaposed with rich colors of apricot and ink blue and black in the hillside.  It is a quiet painting and viewers can envision themselves gazing at this beautiful site. 

“My art is frequently a reflection of experiences, relationships, dreams and a suggestion of stories from others,” she added. “For many artists, what a painting suggests depends on where a piece takes us. For me, when a piece is coming to a close, if it includes a sense of invitation or love of painting, I leave it in, (if it works).”

 “Humble Eyes” is an immaculate execution of a female figure that gazes at the viewer in an unobtrusive, peaceful way.  Her expression is modest and the colors are beautiful.  Using oil as her medium, the viewer can see the softness of the colors play off the softness of the figure. 

“My work remains greatly intuitive,” Thorsen said. “My paintings are sometimes painted – or started – on-site. Mind’s eye & varied references sometimes assist when I return to my unheated workshop. From a young age, I was encouraged in my own style; not relying upon trends, grids, etc.”

Even though the abstract movement has given us a new way to think about art, it can still be somewhat of a puzzle to most viewers.  Some may view this style as daunting, but the interaction of saturated colors with the process and intensity of lines and shapes make this show creative and fun. 

 The pieces can be very controlled, but the emotions of the artists tend to be revealed.  Because art is so subjective, your emotional response also depends on how you perceive it.

 Evy Katz & J.K. Thorsen’s Show continues through Jan 4, 2014, Connect Gallery, 3901 Leavenworth, (402) 991-8234 or

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