For an example of the just-started ArtsFest hyperactivity (see Selections, page 16), take Comma Gallery, the cozy hole in the wall on Virginia Drive that continues to uncover remarkable artists living in our area, thanks to the curiosity and enthusiasm of Kim Sumner and Karen Carasik. This week sees the final talk by Patrick McGrath Muniz, an instructor at Maitland Art Center whose rich paintings and drawings from Studies for the Seven Capital Sins have stirred up interest since opening last month. And into the gallery on Feb. 10 comes another round of Grady Kimsey, an experienced mixed-media adventurer into realms beyond visual boundaries.

"My favorite color is gray," says McGrath, 34, who prefers a limited color palette in the vein of the old masters. "It's using the protocol of Peter Paul Rubens in 17th-century painting. He worked with the method of glazing and color glazing," he says. "I teach a class of old masters techniques … and you have to be very patient since you have to work in layers and wait until the paint is dry before adding another."

In Studies for the Seven Capital Sins, there are a series of paintings that juxtapose idealized icons of Christianity basking in inner light (angelic Marys and holy figures) with McGrath's own icons of corruption (a gas can labeled "Toxico," trashed cola cans).

"What I'm trying to convey in the show and the work is my own insight and interpretation of current events — issues related to politics, religion, consumerism that affect us on a daily basis — through the appropriation of old master techniques on oil paintings, and that's my own interpretation of those themes. And what I'm going to do … is talk about how I'm creating these connections."

The event officially closes McGrath's exhibit, which is headed immediately to Amsterdam for a February solo show.

Kimsey — fresh into his eighth decade — is also an educator and artist. A few years ago, Sumner and Carasik talked him into showing some of his new paintings, and there have been several shows since then. All the shows featured new works by the prolific east Tennessee native, as will the new Culminations. Kimsey is still hot into his fusion of paintings, sculptures and collages. As I wrote in a story about his September 2006 show at Comma, Allegorical Grady Kimsey:

"One sweeping look around the airy gallery feeds the eye with brilliant color not typically associated with Kimsey's primitive palette, though his traditional sculptures are well-represented, frequently adorned with his recurring talismans, most notably birds and fish. Intensive inspection yields details within details that offer no answers to his mysterious presentments, all of which make you feel you're being delivered messages from another dimension."

You can thank ArtsFest for inspiring the countless arts activities that'll take place Feb. 6-15 in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties. And like the two Comma events, they are all free, though some require advance registration. Resolve all questions about ArtsFest at

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