The Magical and the Mystical
By Joseph Dispenza
Get ready to take a magical mystery tour on Tuesday, March 18, when Dawn Gaskill and DaNisha present their exciting new work at the Teatro Ángela Peralta titled “The Magical and the Mystical.” This showing by three well-known San Miguel artists—Dawn Gaskill, and Dan and Nisha Ferguson—features art that will dazzle and inspire.Art “The Magical and the Mystical” Art showing, opening night reception: Dawn Gaskill and DaNisha (Dan and Nisha Ferguson) Tue, Mar 18, 5-8pm Teatro Ángela Peralta Gallery visiting hours March 19-22, 11am-5pm
Dan, Nisha (together known as DaNisha), and Dawn worked together and showed their art at the Galería Ecléctica in the Instituto Allende. They enjoy collaborating because their work has a common spirit—one of joy and delight, expressed through intense color and a blend of the sacred and the whimsical.
“I am probably the only artist who wrote a purpose statement before ever creating anything,” says Dawn Gaskill, who came to art from the world of business. As a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, she taught businesses to develop purpose or mission statements… “So it was natural for me to use those tools to start my career as an artist.”
Dawn’s vision is to joyfully create beautiful art, product designs, and environments that capture people’s imaginations, lift their spirits, and nurture them in their daily lives. She does this by integrating ancient symbols from diverse cultures and spiritual traditions into contemporary designs. When they are displayed in homes or in work environments, they support people’s pursuit of personal and professional intentions.
“I call my work Intentional Art,” Dawn says, “because it is created with the intention to reinforce one’s personal intentions and aspirations.
She meditates daily, and the inspiration for her work comes directly from visions she sees in a contemplative state. “Once I see the images in my mind’s eye,” Dawn says, “I start with intentions that support the symbolism. To deepen and enhance the creative process, I chant while I am painting.”
Dawn’s work for this show features her flower of life paintings. The flower of life is a sacred geometric symbol of the pattern of the universe and can be found in many religions and cultures of the world, one of the oldest sacred symbols known to man, the oldest being found in Egypt at the Temple of Osiris and at least 6,000 years old. It has been found in ancient temples in China, Israel, Japan, India, Turkey and in 13th century Italian art. The flower of life has deep spiritual meaning and is believed to contain the patterns of creation. And inspiration and symbolism comes from the natural world, animals, birds, butterflies and natural gemstones embedded in her encaustic paintings—the medium she uses to create these is called encaustic painting. Dawn makes her medium with beeswax, resin and colored pigments. Then paints in thin glaze-like layers and heat fuses each layer. Some of her paintings include resin figures that she has made and embellished.
About it, Dawn says, “Since the beginning of time, every culture has had a belief system in a higher power whether from the natural world or ancient deities …something to draw near to in devotion. I wanted to honor that deep human impulse in my art.”
Nisha and Dan Ferguson
Canadian artists Nisha and Dan Ferguson knew as children that they would be artists. From early childhood, both were fascinated with drawing. When asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, both answered without hesitation, “Artist!”
They met at the Art Centre of the Central Technical School of Ontario, and, after graduation, married. They are the parents of two sons, Joshua and Julian. Internationally renowned as DaNisha Sculpture, they exhibit their work in prestigious galleries and boutiques throughout Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Australia.
“Over time, our work has evolved in fundamental ways,” says Dan Ferguson. “It is very true that one must always return to the basics in order to improve and hone one’s work.” They use two materials; ceramic and bronze. Their work then consists of three components; sculpture, drawing/painting and design.
Much of their work is characterized by the fanciful dances of animals around the insides and outsides of bowls and other ceramic objects—and cityscapes, sometimes encompassing a whole town with all its buildings around a bowl.
When people speak of DaNisha sculpture, invariably the words used to describe it are optimism, excitement, innocence, wonder, and awe.
“Believing in the power of color was something I came to slowly,” says Nisha. “Grasping the depth of emotion color can convey has been my challenge. I cross into the world of emotion and color with excitement, searching for ways to express feelings and love.”
Nisha, an accomplished acrobat and choreographer, may once have been tempted to run away and join the circus, but instead she founded the successful performance troop in Ontario known as “Gravityworks.” In San Miguel, she reformed and trained a new group, which performs around the state of Guanajuato.
“Working with my life partner and compromising my ideas in order to find something new is a metaphor for our life together,” says Dan. “However, ‘compromise’ is an illusion. Actually, it allows for possibilities neither of us may have thought of.”
The show “The Magical and the Mystical” is a rare opportunity to savor the exquisite art of three marvelous artists. Their work, vibrant and joyful, is a delight and an inspiration.
Joseph Dispenza is a writer who lives in San Miguel. His latest published work is a novella, The Passion of Sister Barbara.