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The Sun-Drenched Passion of Sherry Sweet Tewell

Tropical Celebration, Paintings48 x 32
Sherry Sweet Tewell is a mixed media artist who employs abstraction in a particularly allusive postmodern manner to create works that are brilliantly colorful and accessible, despite their often nonobjective compositions.     
   
A native of Kentucky, Tewell bravely migrated to Key West, Florida, several years ago.   
    “After divorce, my children away in college, I decided it was time to live the life I had dreamed of. Leaving behind my family and friends, I packed only the belongings that would fit in my Miata and my cat, of course, and embarked on my journey. Not knowing a soul in Key West, I was excited about pursuing my art career and becoming part of this quirky artist community.”  
   
The sun and color of the Keys permeates not only her paintings, sculptures, and murals, but also her textile designs, book illustrations, and other items of applied art that she creates in her desire to survive by art alone and “apply my talents liberally.” 
   
Typical of Tewell’s buoyant style is a large triptych in her favored medium of acrylic and resin on wood called “Tropical Celebration,” in which a plethora of stylized leaf and frond shapes in a variety of luminous greens, yellows, and oranges merge the color and light of Impressionism with the vigorous gestural bravura of Abstract  Expressionism. 
   
Tewell also comes up with a vibrant spectrum of hues in “Bite of Orange,” where the composition is almost minimal, consisting, at first glance, of an expansive area of green meeting a smaller area of orange under a low horizon line. On closer perusal, however, one discerns extensive underpainting beneath the thick, tactile surface that Terrell builds up with layers and glazes of acrylic and resin. The green area at the top of the composition was apparently achieved with yellow slathered over a bright cerulean blue hue, while in the lower area the artist allows a golden ocher pentimento to show through her vigorous network of bold orange brushstrokes. At once sensuous and sumptuous, the entire surface glows with subtle chromatic highlights.
   
The sense of pure joie de vivre that Teller achieves through her use of color carries over into works such as “Weaving the Sunset,” where blindingly brilliant vertical streaks descend like a waterfall of light; “Slice of Lime,” its title hinting wittily at the liquid refreshment that hard-partying denizens of the Keys imbibe to beat the heat, its strong composition evoking the local landscape and climate with just a few succinct forms and luminous hues; and “Some Black,” where three tiny dark areas that could almost suggest silhouetted figures are all subsumed by big bold blocks of variegated primaries as luscious as those in the best canvases of Hans Hofmann.
   
But that all is not merely fun in the sun of a tropical bohemian haven comes across in Tewell’s bitterly titled assemblage sculpture, “He Came On My Dream.” It consists of a shapely nude figure resembling the kind of mermaid ornament once used to decorate the prow of a ship. Cut off at the thighs, her torso artfully defaced with red and blue paint, gagged at the mouth, it makes an affecting, perhaps cautionary, statement about female disempowerment in what is sometimes called the “post feminist era” by an artist who candidly refers to how her work has been affected by the unanticipated end of a long relationship. 
   
“The heart swells with joy and love, the heart breaks with sorrow and pain,” says Sherry Sweet Tewell, who channels both the joy and suffering of her every experience into passionate works of art.                                 –

Marie R. Pagano

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