Visual Arts

"Polychromic Outthrusts" at Eye Lounge Demonstrates Lisa Marie Sipe's Waxing Talent

Every artistic medium has its challenges: Oil paint can stay wet for months, acrylics dry quickly, and encaustic (heated wax) is unyielding. But local artist Lisa Marie Sipe, whose latest works are on display in the exhibit "Polychromic Outthrusts" at eye lounge in Phoenix, found a way to bend encaustic to her will. Sipe's art is fun and innovative, with rivers of wax that appear to run straight into the walls.

To create the effect, each wooden canvas was placed on edge and wax dripped down both sides. Pieces were then mounted perpendicular to the wall. The result is a virtual library of wax paintings, stood on end so the "spine" of each piece faces outward. It's a logistical decision, so both front and back of each piece can be seen, and a subtle reference to the archival quality of encaustics.

Sipe's control over the medium is impressive. In Color Defines the Landscape, for example, hot pink wax forms a Rorschach test of shapes with crisp, curving edges. Here, Sipe used a combination of applied resists and cutting to coax the wax into place.

Unfortunately, perfect lines can't mask the show's garish color palette. In Obscenity Slides into Sigil, pools of lime green and turquoise are more suited to an ice cream parlor than a gallery. Set against a deep brown background, blobs of fuchsia, aqua and yellow look like Play-Doh in Battle for Win Finding Wind. Sipe says the bold colors were necessary to stand out on the thin boards. Still, I miss her older camouflage-style works.

Sipe's talent is as organic as her encaustics. She waxes and wanes through a progression of artistic seasons, from jewel tones to neon and camouflage to Rorschach blots. While not every aspect of the show was a success, it is Sipe's continual progress in pushing through the roadblocks of a difficult medium that will keep me coming back for more. — Wynter Holden

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden