Tuesday, May 01, 2007

H. C. Warner

Painter and gallery owner H. C. Warner describes his vision for Alcove Gallery in readily understandable terms. “I’d like it to be like Wonka,” he stated in an interview earlier this year, “we could even sell chocolate - I wouldn’t mind.” Pleasantly unpretentious and alive with childlike exuberance, the works displayed at Warner’s art space deliver a refreshingly delicious visual experience. The gallery’s website has thumbnails of featured artists as well as a link to Warner’s own work.

Warner explains that Alcove’s name was chosen for its suggestive double meaning. “Alcove” is a synonym for “recess,” which could designate an enclosed space as well as that period of time when school kids run wild. Located near the heart of Atlanta’s heavily commercialized Buckhead district, Alcove is a welcome diversion from the mainstream. Wandering into Alcove is like discovering one of Wonka’s golden tickets. Compared to its Bennett Street neighbors, this gallery glimmers like gold.

Alcove artists are an eclectic group, reflecting a variety of influences such as folk art, graffiti, comic books, and anime. The vibrant, optimistic yet sometimes hauntingly disturbing works compliment each other with a similarly youthful energy. Warner says his management philosophy is to “treat everyone who walks in the door as a brother or sister.”

Although Warner typically reserves the space for Alcove artists, he made an exception this spring for an exhibition of his own work entitled “Circles.” The collection revolves around the theme of the circus, addressing both the innocent folly of youth and the cyclical mania of adult life. “We all have these visions based on childhood fantasy,” he elaborates, “we don’t see the darkness but its all there, and it’s all part of cycle.”

Warner’s work continues to evolve, but he follows a consistently eclectic style of his own. Clouds of nebulae bubble and boil the color of blueberry and orange sherbet. Comic book renderings of hornets and crocodiles emerge from the nocturnal swirl, joining a dance with Ben Franklin and other icons of Americana.

Warner remains optimistic about art and about Alcove’s future. “You don’t get into it for the money,” he comments, “I’m a beans and rice kind of guy, and I probably will be for years to come.” An owner who describes gallery operation as the hardest job he has ever done, Warner has been developing his business for over 20 years. He states simply, “This planet is beautiful - as hard as that is to believe sometimes - and so are the people in it.”


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