Family Time



Two exhibits opening in Memphis on Friday showcase the work of mother-daughter, father-daughter pairs.

The upcoming exhibit at Harrington Brown Gallery is “Cross Pollination” — a reference to the influence and inspiration passed between Paula Temple and her daughter, Ariel Baron-Robbins. “They both have completely different styles, but they complement each other,” says gallery owner, Rose Harrington Brown.

  • Ariel Baron-Robbins
  • Gestures

“My daughter has a lot of large figurative work and smaller drawings,” Temple explains. “And she has some very, very new work that I’m hoping we can hang. It’s not very traditional at all— it’s a lot of composite paper pieces that drape on the wall.
Ariel Baron-Robbins with her new work at the University of Southern Florida.
  • Ariel Baron-Robbins with her new work at the University of Southern Florida.

"On my side, there’s a lot of small pieces that fit together, says Temple. "If you can conceive of each individual piece as a window pane and then grouped together like window panes would hang.” She is also displaying a series of paintings called “Cenote,” which pictures swimmers as seen from the top of a sinkhole in Mexico. “On the Yucatan Peninsula, if you look down off the edge of the sinkholes (they’re called ‘cenotes’) you see the swimmers in the bottom,” says Temple.
Cenote 2
  • Paula Temple
  • Cenote 2

“The image of the swimmers is actually very close to the ‘Icarus’ series I did. I’m using people as part of the landscape, swimming in the water or in the sky. I just love the contrast, the image of a human wanting to fly and failing.”
New Flight
  • Paula Temple
  • New Flight

Temple is a Memphis native and has been a professor of art at the University of Mississippi for 25 years. This is the first formal exhibit she has done with her daughter. “Working with my daughter, we can be much more frank with each other, saying ‘I really don’t like that’ or ‘I really like that’ or ‘I think I need to take that off the wall.’” But the two have always been at least informally connected by their art. “She grew up in my studio,” says Temple. “She was not pushed to be an artist, but I couldn’t keep her out of the studio. She was in there all the time. She’d come to meet me after school and go right into my classes and just work with the other students. She just loves it and she has a lot of talent.”

The show runs through August 3rd, and the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

Harrington Brown Gallery, 5179 Wheelis, Suite 102, 590-3008,

Opening Friday at the Dixon Gallery, “In the Blood” features the artwork of Memphians, Clare Torina and her father, John Torina. A nod to their artistic bloodline, “In the Blood” nevertheless contrasts John’s landscapes with Clare’s portraiture. “It’s a really great dynamic between his work and her work,” says Emily Halpern of the Dixon. “This is the first time their work has been displayed in the same place.”

  • John Torina, 2010, 22 x 30 inches. Courtesy of David Lusk Gallery.
  • Nightfall

Their paintings will be mixed together throughout the exhibit. “I think if no one knew we were father and daughter, the show might not make sense,” says Clare, “because it is very different work. But I have landscapes in some of my figure paintings as the backdrop and sort of an homage to him and the artists I grew up looking at, all the masters of American landscape. And he’s using more color than he ever has which ties into my work.”
Vision Quest
  • Clare Torina, 2010, Oil on canvas, 60 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the Artist.
  • Vision Quest

The exhibit creates an interplay unique to their personal and artistic relationship. “We’ve worked together since day one,” says Clare. “I grew up painting landscapes with him. And I guess it’s just been recently, since my junior year in college, that I began really investing in the figure. There are some similarities in our work still, but we’ve sort of grown apart in our subject matter. I see him as being an optimist in his art and me being more cynical. We’re still learning. I learn so much from him and I think he learns some from me.”

John Torina was a long time professor at Memphis College of Art and is now represented by David Lusk Gallery. “His paintings are so classically beautiful,” Clare says. Since he’s retired from academia, John has been able to focus on his craft. “He travels all over the world and paints from life. He paints massive paintings. He’s a Wildman. It’s a unique lifestyle he has.”

Pecan Grove
  • John Torina, 2010, 48 x 72 inches, Oil on canvas, Courtesy of David Lusk Gallery.
  • Pecan Grove

Clare Torina recently graduated from the University of Memphis and will soon begin her graduate studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work focuses on figures and portraiture, playing off of traditional modes and art historical hierarchies. “I approach [portraiture] in a more psychological way. I study a lot of behavioral sciences and use a lot of animals to compare animal behavior to uncontrollable human instincts,” Clare explains. “I use a lot of color and my references come from all over—photographs off the internet to live models to photographs we’ll set up and take.”
  • Clare Torina, 2010, 30 x 30 inches (one of two paintings in diptych), Oil on canvas, Courtesy of the artist
  • Hysteria

Clare’s husband, Stephen Almond, is a photographer, and he frequently sets up the shots from which Torina paints. “It’s usually of someone undergoing some sort of emotional catharsis,” she says of the photographs. “I take rituals from different religions and use them as a guideline for how I compose the paintings.”

One particular piece at the Dixon, “Bacchanal,” plays with contextual details to unveil unexpected similarities between seemingly disparate religious practices. “Of course [the painting] depicts a lot of orgies and complete loss of self-control,” says Clare, “but the photos I used for this were actually images of preachers or people being slain in the spirit or people being baptized. It looks like they’re involved in pornography, with the expressions on their faces. It’s about having these dualities, thing that seem one way but are in actuality another.”

The Dixon has long been a space for impressionist work, but over the last year, they have worked to bring local artists into the gallery as well. “We’ve been talking about doing a father daughter show for about five years,” says Clare. “It’s just amazing that it’s at the Dixon.”

“In the Blood” will run from July 2nd to September 26th. The artists will have a Munch & Learn lecture at the gallery next Wednesday, July 7th at noon. The Dixon is open Tuesday through Sunday, and regular admissions prices apply.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue, 761-5250,

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