Enchantment in the Underground

Enchantment: Fairies & Tales, a collaborative work by artists Lorie Lee Andrews and Merle Pace, is the latest addition to the Harrison Center Underground Gallery and will hang through the month of April. Enchantment features a broad array of imaginative pieces that display a number of different illustrative styles and methods, all adding a fresh creative layer to the lowest level here at the Harrison Center.

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Of the five galleries at the Harrison Center, newcomers may be most surprised by what they find on the lowest floor of the building in the eclectic, individualistic Underground Gallery. Given the offbeat location, the unorthodox construction, and the diverse collection of shows that have made their way through the room, the Underground Gallery achieves a personality and charm that few other establishments can. Recently appointed Underground Gallery curator, Johnny McKee, hopes that Enchantment, as well as the other shows planned for the coming months, can shed light on the beauty and worth of art in the Underground, and help establish the gallery as a regular stop for visitors to the Center.

“I’m trying to utilize the artists that surround that Underground Gallery to help form its identity a little bit more, so there are direct correlations to ‘I saw that work, there’s their studio.’ It starts to make more sense as an entity within the Harrison Center,” said McKee. “Unless you are familiar with the building, you get so lost in here, and those corner studios can get forgotten or just missed. But we’re going to start getting more people down there by putting up worthwhile, destination shows that will create more of an event atmosphere.”

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Enchanted, which was unveiled at the most recent First Friday, provides a creative and engaging aesthetic experience featuring many whimsical images often drawing inspiration from classic fables and fairytales. It affords the show a certain accessibility with many viewers as it harkens back to familiar and nostalgic storybook themes. The show consists almost entirely of illustrations, and showcases the mastery of several different illustrative styles by both Pace and Andrews, with pieces featuring colorful, inventive depictions of fairies, mermaids, mythical warriors, forest creatures, and the iconic “caticorn,” among others. “The idea behind the show initially was to focus on illustration as an art form, which usually, in the gallery setting, doesn’t get its due,” said McKee. “I think the show works really well, because they (Pace and Andrews) are both interested in the idea of illustrating fairies and fairy tales, so it fit together really naturally.”

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The Underground Gallery has a long history of exhibiting beautiful and unique works, and Enchantment: Fairies & Tales adds yet another chapter to the rich archive of shows in the gallery by giving us a body of work that exudes creativity, imagination, fantasy, and wonder. Each gallery at the Harrison Center offers something worthwhile, and we hope you will take the time to appreciate and enjoy both Enchanted and the exciting lineup of shows in the coming months.

Kyle Baird