Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Journey to India with Gay Odmark

Center unveils new exhibition about India

Express Staff Writer

“Lotus Roots” by Gay Bawa Odmark. Monotype at Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Hailey.

Gay Odmark calls herself a one-woman band because she is an artist, entrepreneur and active Wood River Valley community supporter. She expresses herself through photography, painting, printmaking and sculpture.

As part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' new multidisciplinary exhibition, "Outside In: Indian Art Abroad," Odmark will present an exhibition of her work, "Reinventing Indian Traditions," at The Center in Hailey.

"It's a retrospective of 35 pieces," Odmark said. "I find myself through creativity, and I am rooted in India, but I landed here."

Odmark came to Sun Valley with only $200 and did not want to leave. Born in Lahore, undivided India, before it became part of Pakistan after the Indian civil war, Odmark lived part of her childhood in Calcutta. She has spent her life moving back and forth between the U.K., the U.S. and the Indian subcontinent. Living in Paris, London, San Francisco and traveling to India when possible, Odmark's experiences have inspired a great deal of her art.

"I like the idea of beautiful suffering," Odmark said. "I get to look at myself through the art I create, and it's surreal and healing."

Odmark has been represented by the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum for over 18 years. Her work explores themes such as the Indian deity Ganesh, the symbolism of the lotus, the tradition of painting hands and feet with henna and the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali.

The frequent appearance of the lotus in her art is no accident. The lotus was the symbol of the third guru of Sikhism during the 1500s, of whom Odmark is a direct descendent.

An opening party with Odmark will take place on Friday, Dec. 4, from 5:30-7 p.m. at The Center in Hailey. In addition, Odmark is an accomplished cook of Indian cuisine. She will conduct a class in "Perfecting the Curry" on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3:30 p.m.

The Ketchum exhibition will open on Friday, Dec. 18, and will feature work by four contemporary artists who were either born or raised in India or are the offspring of Indian parents living abroad. Also on view will be a small exhibition organized by the Pacific Asia Museum focused on the Hindu deity Ganesha (also called Ganesh), the Remover of Obstacles.

The Center in Hailey exhibition hours are Wednesday through Friday, 12-5 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located at 314 S. Second Ave. (corner of Pine and Second). The exhibition continues through April 2. For details, call 726-9491.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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