Press and Media
“In a nutshell, Allison is one of the finest, most positive, upbeat and intelligent women I’ve ever met…This much I’ll assure you; knowing Allison, if she had come to me when I was still running the Gallagher operation, I would have hired her in a nanosecond—she brings such an incredible attitude and a positive energy that’s seldom seen and I have absolutely no doubt she would make an outstanding addition to any operation. The title of my commentary (about her) was ABC: Art, Beauty, Courage, but it could have been titled, “Guts, Character & Integrity Personified.”
CLICK HERE – To read the Marin IJ Story Marin County, California
Allison Massari, “The Healer”, Collage, 2008, 30″ x 40″
Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg native Allison Massari still remembers the role the Arts Center (renamed the Morean Arts Center earlier this year) played in her journey to becoming an artist.
“My art teacher in the first grade came to my parents and said, ‘Your daughter has a gift for art,’ ” said Massari. “They took me down to the Arts Center, and I took classes there from then on.”
Now, as she prepares for a solo exhibition at the Morean that opens in October, the California resident waxes enthusiasticly about a homecoming that also marks a high point in her career as an adult artist. While she’s in town, visitors will have a chance to enjoy a series of her figurative collage works—the product of a labor-intensive process that results in ethereally beautiful depictions of the female form—and to hear Massari speak about a life’s journey that has made her a force of positive energy.
Given Massari’s successes as an artist (one of her collages was recently acquired for the permanent collection of St. Petersburg’s Museum of Fine Arts), it’s hard to believe that her career almost ended 11 years ago when she was nearly burned alive in a head-on car collision. She survived, thanks to the heroic efforts of a passer-by, and went on to create a camp for child burn victims while pursuing her art and occasional motivational speaking engagements.
Her art bears witness to the healing process, celebrating regenerative feminine power. Lately, her expression has found a new medium: the written word. When Massari holds a public talk on Oct. 10 in St. Petersburg (for location information, visit the Morean’s website, listed below), she’ll be drawing from her unpublished memoirs to offer advice about overcoming life’s obstacles—advice she hopes will be relevant for people struggling both with personal tragedy and the challenges of living and working in today’s difficult economy.
An exhibition of Allison Massari’s work runs from Oct. 9 through Nov. 7 with an opening reception Fri., Oct. 9, at the Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
For more exhibit information, visit
moreanartscenter.org. For more information
about the artist, go to allisonmassari.com.
Commentary by Michael Milkovich October, 2009
Director Emeritus, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
Allison Massari’s exhibition, Pyrotechnic Luminescence, is a segment of a group of collages which were created in the last two years. If observed in the context of her entire opus, which extends over the last twenty years or so, it is obvious that her continuing development, both technically and pictorially, characterize her own identifiable and distinctive artistic personality. While at the beginning of her artistic career Massari depicted a variety of subjects and techniques, the human figure became her main source of most varied possibilities.
The consequence of a tragic event in 1998 where Massari was trapped inside a burning car fundamentally redirected and transformed her outlook on life. This suffering turned into inspiration and elevated her individual tragedy to a most powerful force of humanism. “I love the idea of sharing myself and connecting to others through art” and “my hope is that my art will be a vehicle for others to feel inspired, comforted, seen and touched.”
The present exhibition is a “victorious song,” inspired by suffering and human drama. The direct experience of the suffering body so dramatically expressed in Massari’s sculptural group of 2004, Inspected by Curious Person #301, is held in stark contrast to her collages, which shine with optimism and love for life.
Massari selected the “female form to represent an intrinsic energy and intelligence that is present everywhere” to symbolize life, energy, delight, freedom and the heart’s desire. This idea is reinforced to the greatest extent in the purest poetry in using exuberant color.
As an artist of humanistic orientation, her work presents human hardship, suffering, hope and transformation as a dominant quality of her artistic expression.
This exhibition confirms that we are in the presence of an accomplished, self-confident and well-defined artist.
“Massari is an immensely talented artist…(I’m) a longtime admirer of her prodigious gifts”
“Massari deserves to create in whatever manner brings her inspiration.”
• • •
Also at the Morean Arts Center is “Allison Massari: Pyrotechnic Luminescence.” Massari is an immensely talented artist whose career — not to mention her life — was nearly destroyed in 1998 by a horrific car accident that left her with severe burns. Over a decade, she has recovered her health so that her talent, which never left her, has continued to blossom.
Eight of her collages are in the show, virtuoso turns in which she replaces paint with small pieces of paper arranged in elaborate mosaics. Massari has always favored a representational style, especially portraiture, and here she has created a gallery of beautiful, partly clothed women surrounded by aureoles in dense, bright patterns.
After what she has been through and continues to achieve, Massari deserves to create in whatever manner brings her inspiration. As a longtime admirer of her prodigious gifts, I wish for more emotional complexity.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at lenniesptimes.com or (727) 893-8293.