CoRK WEST, STUDIO 5
The Next Gallery
Sharla Valeski is a professional artist with a BFA in Studio Art from Jacksonville University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1994.
At JU. she was the recipient of several awards including the Award of Excellence in Painting and the Whatley-Nied Art Award for Outstanding Merit. She has well over 20 years experience working in multi-media practices from drawing, painting, cloth sculpture and installation.
Valeski has 10 years experience managing gallery spaces and organizing art exhibitions. She facilitated events for the Beaches Fine Arts Guild "Ocean Gallery" (1994-96), the Ponte Vedra Community Center (1997-99), her own gallery "The Next Gallery" downtown Jacksonville on Laura Street (2009-11), and CoRK Arts District, West Gallery (2011 - present).
At CoRK Arts District, she's been the innovator of several ground-breaking art exhibitions, most notable was "Cut, Paint, Draw" in 2013. Sharla Valeski has developed an effective method of promoting her exhibitions which has proven success evidenced by the number of followers and the amount of people who attend her openings.
Additionally, Ms. Valeski was the Development Director for a therapeutic art program at Gateway Community Services from 1999-2004. It was at Gateway that she gained hands on teaching experience working with adults and teens recovering from substance abuse. The projects she developed for the clients at Gateway were designed so that anyone with the desire could accomplish making art and feel good about themselves. Valeski is particularly adept at creating step-by-step art processes which can be successfully executed by just about anyone.
Presently, Valeski has a studio at CoRK Arts District. She has spent the past four years at CoRK creating large-scale, cloth sculptures utilizing traditional quilting techniques. These sculptures are soft and 3-dimensional. Valeski hangs her large sculptural spheres from the ceiling and they are designed to be stuffed or inflated on site. At exhibitions end, the spheres are un-stuffed or deflated to be stored or shipped in moderately small containers. The artist uses inflatable beach balls, bubble-wrap, poly-fill and bio-degradable shipping peanuts for "filling". At the end of an exhibition the "filling" is recycled/reused by local businesses and schools. The first of these sculptures- "My Ego" (approximately 17' x 17' x 18') was exhibited at CoRK Arts District, OneSpark 2012, and NoMO (North of Miami) during Art Basel- 2012 in Miami, Florida. The second cloth Sculpture- "Victorian Schoolhouse" is smaller (approx 10' x 10' x 10') and was part of an invitational group art exhibition at FSCJ South Campus in 2014. The third and most recent sculpture- Mesh Window (14' x 14' x 14') was part of the "Who's Fooling Who Art Exhibition" at Gallery 18 in Pembroke Pines, FL.
Ms. Valeski has a philosophy of working that is process oriented. She enjoys developing a series of steps for art-making and then repeating these steps over and over. This is very much like the methods utilized by the artists who are considered "National Living Treasures" in Japan. This philosophical practice, Valeski believes, will help her achieve art that is sublime. Her layered paintings (the White Series) which begin with a horror vacui of color and ends in layers of white have vague and subtle remnants of shape and color. These paintings are in the collections of several individuals and corporations. Another painting series are portraits.These portraits are very small, sometimes the size of a postage stamp. The portraits do not depict actual people- they are from the aritsts imagination. Yet, as dedicated as she is to painting, it is drawing that Valeski returns to again and again. Drawing remains the basis of her practice and it is with her drawings that she can invoke ideas for her 3-d fabric sculpture pieces.
There are many artists who inspire Ms. Valeski. Annette Messager is a living artist from Paris, France. Known as a feminist artist, Messager creates installations of photographs and toy-like, hand knit animals in costumes. Valeski also admires Frida Kahlo as much for her struggle as for her paintings. And the work of Max Beckmann evokes a strong emotional response from Valeski, particularly the triptych "The Departure". Valeski is very fond of the surrealist Rene Magritte but it is probably the drawings of Cy Twombly that gives Valeski a sense of connection to herself in the world.