Legend has it that sorceress Morgan Le Fay lived in a glass castle in the depths of the sea and could take on any shape she wished. Superstitious sailors, led astray by shadows from refracted light at sea, called the natural light-bending phenomenon Fata Morgana, believing it was Le Fay creating false ports to lure them to their deaths.
To pay homage to the enchantress, Pam Grossman, the creator of Phantasmaphile art blog, curated “Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists,” a 15-piece show by female artists from all over the country that exalted fantastical illusions, women’s sorcery and all that is magical.
“At an age where a lot is made about looking a certain way and being perfect in a shallow way, magic empowers women and celebrates their individuality,” said Grossman.
The exhibit opened at Greenpoint’s Dabora Gallery on Saturday night, where the gallery’s Gothic décor and the complementary Absinthe produced an atmosphere resembling a fantastical fairy gathering rather than a Brooklyn art event. Guests, some of whom donned lace and velvet Victorian gowns, drank green-tinted liquor and viewed paintings of mystical creatures behind red curtains.
Since Grossman was a little girl, she gravitated toward esoteric topics. A few years ago she started Phantasmaphile.com, a blog about mystical elements in art and culture such as alchemy and magic. She began to feature artists on her blog and about a year ago decided to curate a show comprised of several artists from her blog. She collected the pieces and began the painstaking process of looking for an exhibition space. Sparks flew when she walked into an unmarked doorway on Manhattan Avenue. Dimly-lit Dabora Gallery with its high-ceilings, gilded walls, red drapery and décor of medieval chandeliers and animal-skin rugs was perfect for Grossman’s otherworldly show.
The show features mystical depictions of fairies, witches and ordinary women.
Encaustic-painter Lori Field created “Be Careful What You Wish For,” a pastel-colored mixed media and encaustic painting—one made with beeswax—of a tattooed elfin huntress with a deer surrounded by roses and clouds. Since the show’s theme is mythological, she jumped at the chance to display her work, which usually deals with mystical characters, fairy culture and transformations.
Installation artist Christina Dallas submitted a photograph of an installation, “Portrait of the Bluebloods,” a piece from her already existing series, “The Lost Photograph Archives.” Two photographic faces mounted on top of cloth bodies present two young girls, posing with their dogs in front of a sublime painting of a ghoulish man. The piece is meant to be a found object, after a great war.
“The Chemical Wedding,” painter Madeline von Foerster’s alchemical oil painting, shows a bluish woman and a red man hatching from an egg, both wearing crowns. This painting symbolizes perfect balance of the male and the female energies. A Latin alchemical phrase “Visit the Interior of the Earth and by Rectifying you Will Find the Hidden Stone,” frames the painting.
With this exhibit Dabora owner Lynda Mahan, whose cryptic self-portrait playing Cat’s Cradle is featured in the show, wants to highlight the importance of magic, not only in lives of women, but all people.
“Magic is part of every day life of each person in some shape or form,” said Mahan.