Laura Wait toys with shapes, meaning of letters in new art show |

Laura Wait toys with shapes, meaning of letters in new art show

Margaret Hair

Local mixed media artist Laura Wait will have her work featured at the K. Saari Gallery at Vertical Arts this month. Wait's show will open with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. today.
John F. Russell

— Laura Wait always has liked to layer her art.

The style accommodates her evolving ideas and allows for depth within the same subject.

In her latest collection, Wait pursues an idea she's been after for a while, experimenting with the way we interact with words and what the shapes of those words mean.

The show, "Litterarius," opens with a reception today from 5 to 8 p.m. at K. Saari Gallery at Vertical Arts.

Wait's images have more to do with the shape of the letters and the way words look than with the meaning of the words themselves. In each work, it would be difficult or impossible to read the original script, as each word has been partially obscured in layers of wax, pigment and paint.

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The words in "Litterarius" come out of Wait's recent obsessions with chess imagery and the game's relationship with war strategy. There also are a few pieces with dance-related names, as Wait's view of the words leaned more toward movement than conflict, she said.

Wait works with encaustic, a wax mixed with tree resin and sometimes pigment. The medium is good for layering and scraping away, which gives Wait a little wiggle room if she doesn't quite know where a piece is headed.

With this summer-inspired series of pieces featuring blue hues, parts of Wait's show are "a big departure for her in terms of color," said K. Saari Gallery Owner Kimberly Saari. Wait said it's been years since she put blue in one of her pieces.

Most of the artist's encaustic work happens during the summer for logistical reasons — once the wax heats, it produces fumes that can endanger her window-ventilated workspace. The sunny weather might have had an impact on her bright color choices, Wait said.

Some of Wait's encaustic work will be on display starting in March at an invitational encaustic show at Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, Ariz.

Since late fall, she's been making structural art books, and she plans several workshops about her book-making technique for the coming months. Much of the imagery in those works goes back to chess and war, she said.

During today's reception, additional retailers in Wildhorse Marketplace plan to stay open with art on their walls. Tall Tulips will feature work by local artists Lance Whitner, Lisa Hemmeter and Mishelle Link. The Drunken Onion will display work by Elizabeth Provo-Hanlen. Local work also will be featured in some of the commercial center's empty windows. Amy Tirone — who co-owns Tall Tulips with her husband, Kip — said she'd like to see the marketplace-wide art nights become a regular event.

If you go

What: New work by Laura Wait

When: 5 to 8 p.m. today

Where: K. Saari Gallery at Vertical Arts, 690 Wildhorse Plaza, Suite 1

Cost: Free

Call: 870-0188