New Work by
Marcella Reimer Lally
Opens June 2, 2018
New Orleans, Louisiana
When I walked into her studio a month before show time the A.C. was cranking and a huge vase of freshly cut spring garden blooms chock-full of spectacular dogwood blossoms (almost too perfect to be real!) were sprawled out all over the coffee table in happy greeting. I’d come to see what she’d done with that gorgeous cock rooster fly fishing bait feather thingy I found in Taos (and also to avoid the odious task of cleaning my own studio mess). She walked me over to the pair of elk skulls - two females from Ted Turner’s land in New Mexico - together called “Full Circle”. In a brilliant move, she’d divided the Whitings Dry Fly Saddle into two halves, and adorned both heads in a mirror image feathered perfection that sealed them together for good as a paired set.
We moved westward down the wall of her studio to a huge buffalo head and the big finale number bearing the name of the show called “Wild Wisdom”. I’d been watching this piece evolve through several manifestations over the past many weeks and I was surprised all over again by this last incarnation. “I think it’s done,” she said with a satisfied note in her voice. I looked again at the massive skull and its blooming forelock of black flowers, mirrored starbursts and perfectly placed gold clock. My eyes got huge, my head tipped to one side. “It is?!?!” I blurted out in abject surprise. “But there’s no fluff!” I argued in a most opinionated bossy art friend way. “All your pieces have these hanging filament-like elements that bring movement in the wind. I think it needs something to move the gold at the top down to the bottom.” After that spontaneous critique of the finale number, we settled in for a cup of coffee and perused the details of all the pieces in process in her workspace.
A few short days later, Marcy sent word: “Wild Wisdom is done!”
A waft of gardenia blossom blasted me in the face as I opened her message. A simultaneous wave of goosebumps washed up my arms and down my ribcage and I typed out an excited hooray and replied I would be right over. And it was true, the completion was final!
There is something about Marcella Reimer Lally - and her art - that trips the best kind of brain triggers. My first gasp over her work came a from the glorious spring blooming explosion she placed on the central skull of her Seasonal Centerpiece, a permanent but ever changing fixture
that anchors the main display wall of her 4th floor studio at The Hobbs. Lilacs and Hyacinth and Daffodils and Redbuds sprinkled tangible showers of scented pollen down on my head and I swooned in instant adoration of the artist who would make such a spectacularly sensual thing. Her wall pieces that night were full of horseshoes and birds, handmade ceramic flowers and vintage kitsch sentimental china, countered by more serious prints and her signature skull and ceramic bloom sculptures.
Anyone who loves O’Keefe’s 2-D skulls and flowers will find resonance in Marcy’s work and thoroughly appreciate the multi-dimensional and tactile qualities that take familiar visuals of bones and blooms to a deeper level. Marcella’s aesthetic scales are perfectly balanced in this “Wild Wisdom” show headed to NOLA in June. Her ability to temper the stark death pallor hanging over the skulls by marrying them with the feminine allure and soft approachablity of flowers is truly a relief and a joy to experience firsthand - especially for those of us who don’t love the macabre feel of a taxidermy trophy look up on the walls, nor the severity of skull-n-bones motifs.
In this new show Marcella successfully partners the feminine and masculine elements with natural elements and subtle universal symbols. It is easy to envision these pieces residing in a thousand different types of walls and spaces. When a piece of art can call out to the flower sniffers and the burly hunters simultaneously, then everyone can live together peacefully. Her humor is tucked in little places all throughout her work- from the bugs hiding in nooks to the titles that make us giggle. Gardeners and those with a softness for Grandma will fall in love with the teacups and china assemblages and subtly placed snakes and sentimental sculpted flowers all through her creative outpouring.
The other bonus to seeing a Marcy Reimer Lally show in person is getting to meet her! She’s a pretty woman, a funny girl, and a sensitive spirit - and if you are lucky and catch a spare moment with her, you will find she’s a natural storyteller and an intuitive gatherer of interesting things. Her work is an accurate reflection of her human interior and that is a thing of beauty; easy to respect and admire.