THE OFFICIAL start date of summer is still a few weeks away, but it’s never too early to dream of sandy beaches, family vacations and riding around with the top down.
Luckily, The Paris Market’s latest exhibition, “Strangely Familiar” by Mary Sinner, compiles all the best moments of summer in a neat, bright package to get you in the spirit.
“The common thread is summer, but I wouldn’t say the paintings are too obviously connected,” says Sinner.
Using an impressionistic style and bright colors, Sinner’s oil paintings capture the capricious feel of summer. Her figures swing, float in the pool, surf, go to fairs—all the standard warm-weather activities show up in her work.
Sinner collected her reference images at thrift stores and estate sales, hence the title of the show.
“The family photos feel very familiar, like something we’ve all seen in Grandma’s photo album,” she says. “Half of the fun is sifting through other people’s family photos.”
Sinner notes that she’s interested in “iconic symbols that migrate through the cultural strata,” an idea she picked up in graduate school when she couldn’t think of anything to paint.
“I decided to paint something completely different and personal,” she remembers. “I painted a giant portrait of my dad’s old copper El Camino and my childhood dog, Cookie.”
Her graduate committee didn’t quite understand the connection between the car and the dog, but to Sinner, it couldn’t have been clearer.
“I saw this painting as a visual metaphor for my childhood, and they saw a giant ode to a strange truck muscle car,” she says. “That painting demonstrates the idea that the image of a muscle car conjures a recognized set of associations, but that it can also become a symbol for something much different depending on the context and/or the viewer.”
The paintings of “Strangely Familiar” all fall in line with that thought process. The works encapsulate the feeling of a vintage summer with muscle cars, cat-eye sunglasses, and surfboards—like the artistic rendering of a Beach Boys song—but they also give the viewer the power to make their own associations within their own memories.
Sinner’s thick brush strokes and bright colors give the paintings a summery whimsical feel.
“I’m drawn to paintings that [bear] a likeness to the reference and have visual evidence of brush strokes and paint,” she explains. “Sounds silly, but sometimes the actual surface of the painting can be as interesting as the image. I’ve always played a little fast and loose, but I think I’m getting better at balancing the detailed areas with the more painterly abstracted bits.”
In many of the works, Sinner uses an abstract background to bring detail to the forefront.
Sinner lives and works in Utah; this will be her first time in Savannah.
“Paula [Danyluk, owner of The Paris Market] saw my work at a collector’s house,” Sinner recalls. “We connected through her and set up the show from there.”
“Strangely Familiar” opens Thursday, June 8 at 5 p.m. and will remain up through the end of July.