Painter of Cirque
Mezza9 (“Mezzanine”) is an American impressionist and visionary artist who paints large scale figurative works of cirque performers.
Mezza9 is based in coastal California and coastal North Carolina.
Contemporary circus performers and flow artists inspire her subject matter. Through the exploration of these themes: performance, movement, nature and color vibration; Mezza9 is painting the myths of today and documenting the paradigm shifts and the archetypes of modernity. Mediums include acrylic, pastel, oil on wood and paper and metal.
Many of her works are sculptural with kinetic parts, varying heights, and uneven edges. Every wood panel is hand constructed.
Her paintings convey the blissful state of transcendence into Nebulon (sky/sea world of bliss) and the Wilderness, the outer limits of our imaginations.
Mezza9 is an established artist and has been a professional painter of cirque for fourteen years. She received grants from the North Carolina and the Arizona Commissions on the Arts. Numerous publications have reviewed her paintings and NPR interviewed her in 2011 for her top ten exhibit which concluded with a parade of stilt dancers and flow artists.
She has orchestrated interactive, solo exhibits and plans to continue her artistic career by following her path as a painter and incorporating and expanding into other mediums, specifically metal fabrication, installation, and performance and is interested in interdisciplinary collaborations with innovative artists in these fields.
Her artistic path began in 2001 in Durham, NC. she co-owned an art gallery which she cultivated into a cultural hub. Amano Paperie and Art Gallery pioneered the monthly Culture Crawl and incubated pop-up art shows in neighboring cities. In 2002 she began pursuing painting seriously and exhibited at a monthly art event called FAME.
A 2007 exhibition of her paintings at the Pilobolus after-party at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC marked a turning point in her artistic career. She shifted the focus of her art from dancers in general to performers whom she knew and she took hoop dance and aerial hoop classes to learn the poses. At Hoop Convergence she sketched attending performers as well as participated in workshops to feel the embodiment of the movement arts. She cultivated friendships with acrobats, fire and flow artists, yogis and jugglers. She is now an avid hoop and stilt dancer, fire spinner, beginning aerialist and unicyclist. She practices yoga in front of her works-in-progress. In this way, her life and art have coalesced.
In her paintings she first emulated the Viennese Secessionists including Egon Schiele. Later, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Degas, Wayne Thiebaud, Lucien Freud, Michael Carson, Bo Bartlett and Barkley Hendricks inspired her figurative paintings. Toulouse-Lautrec’s documentation of Moulin Rouge resonated with her. She began to narrate her friends’ lives on the fringe with my art. Her painting technique merged environment with figures with her use of s’fumato, or softened edges. This gave her work a dream-like, ethereal feel and she named this watery universe Nebulon. She has worked with photographers (notably Cl. Rodriguez) to capture flow and illusion artists in performance. From photos she creates an alchemy of the figures through the vibration of color palettes, and light emitted from the figure itself. The figures go beyond performance to fly, levitate and swim. With this magical realism approach, she exposes the inner landscape and its embodiment of awe and wonder that the performer transcends into and likewise she as a painter goes into and she coaxes the viewer into this realm as well. That is what captivates her as an artist: deep exploration into the vast frontiers of our unconscious spaces, and she exposes bits of this mystery in each work.
She later sought out female role models and identified with the courage and dedication of: Frida Kahlo, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Julie Taymor, Vanessa Beecroft, and Bjork. She credits Twyla Tharp’s book Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, for igniting her dedication and giving the thumbs up to rituals. She studied Flow by renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. Through refinement of her ideologies, she devised systems to enter this state of flow and used her experiences to teach workshops and made notes for her own manifesto on creativity. Painting blindfolded is one technique that bypasses the ego and yields results that support theories of seeing with the mind’s eye.
Her art in 2011 did flow. She progressed from single figurative works to large scale works with several figures. She introduced gears and pulleys to her paintings; was constructing her own wood supports with varying levels (having abandoned canvas completely); and she devised a method of low-light painting following study of Monet’s Waterlilies. For her, colors in nature began to vibrate as she re-learned how to see. She created The Wilderness, a sprawling 30 panel floor to ceiling piece with two stilt walkers pedaling a bicycle through a watery landscape. It showed at the Cameron Museum of Art (Wilmington, NC).
Her art lead her to travel with the performance troops UniFire Theater, Clan Destiny Circus, and The Button Wagon. From rehearsal to performance, she made preliminary sketches and she continued creating works from this period, including a work in progress, a giant spinning phenaktascope (spinning disk of sequential images and the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion) which features illusion and contortionist.
Also in 2011 she orchestrated a successful Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaign for Pollen Path, a public art sculpture that combines beehives with disco balls similar to Buckminster Fuller’s dymaxion juxtaposition of a fish and car This interactive installation brings awareness to our environment and plight of the bee. She has enrolled in welding at Cabrillo College (Soquel, California) to complete it in Spring /Summer 2015.
In 2014 “Mezzmerizd: Dreaming Awake” at the Carrboro Arts Center in North Carolina brought the worlds of fire spinning, aerial, and theater together with a fine art show that displayed the wide-scope of her vision.
In 2015 Mezzanine Beecomb Circus Arts was founded to offer artistic stilt, contortion, aerial, fire and flow entertainment by Mezzanine and her circus friends. In this way, her life and art have coalesced.
She is painting the myths of today and documenting the paradigm shifts and the archetypes of modernity.
Mezza9 National Public Radio (NPR) Interview for award-winning solo exhibit, “Amplify: Kowalski Paintings, Drawings, and Kinetics and Sculpture”