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Collages and paintings by Laurie Tanner at Pausa Art House

"Everything is Free" by Laurie Tanner.

Untangle the Tangle

Pausa Art House is a cozy establishment where food, drink, and performance may be enjoyed together. The walls serve as a worthy gallery with appropriate lighting to draw attention to the artwork. Laurie Tanner has shown in various venues around Buffalo in the last decade, but this one is an especially good match for her visual art that draws upon music and poetry. On view until March 1 is a selection of oil paintings, prints, and collages. Each piece is titled after songs by various musicians she listened to while working in her studio.

The exhibition statement includes a quote by the poet and author, Anais Nin. “It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer/artist shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” I was pleased to see the reference. Nin’s name does not come up much these days—her heartfelt brand of self-reflective memoir lacks the irony that has become synonymous with much contemporary art. As a post-college seeker living in San Francisco, I obsessively fed upon the words of Nin’s famous diaries and poetic fiction. The tales of a romantic artistic life in Paris wove art, love, and spirit together—the perfect antidote to the grittiness of my 1970s America.

Tanner is a self-described expressive artist who uses creativity to help heal and guide the mind, body, and spirit. She calls her paintings wavescapes, as they are motivated by a love of sailing. The layered watery hues of her surfaces suggest unseen depths. She defines this as an “ethereal and feminine quality of nature.” Two prints of paintings are titled after a Chris Bathgate song, Cold Fusion I and Cold Fusion II. Paintings are titled after a Gillian Welch song, Everything Is Free, and after a Yuna song, Lullabies. Her mixed-media collages delve into more symbolic imagery and hand-written lyrical words. These narrative assemblages of vintage print media are carefully arranged with patterned papers and graphic markings. Parachute (Elysian Fields) shows a nude female leaning up against a mirror with words: “If you ever need a parachute you can fall free with me Baby.” Several of the collages incorporate imagery of exotic couples from an East Indian culture in various positions of engagement with one another. One is called Sloom, titled after a song by Monsters and Men, includes a long string of words beginning with “The sun said goodbye to the shore…” Another titled after the same performers, Love Love Love, features an image of a woman dressed in upscale bohemian garb standing by a vintage reel-to-reel recording device and vintage television with the words “UN” pasted onto the screen.

The exhibition title, UNravelment, alludes to undoing, freeing, and disengaging from the complexities of life and love. Another curious connection to the word “ravel” is that it also happens to be the last name (Maurice Ravel) of a French composer known for his distinctive melodies. The common thread in this body of work is the linear quality of branches or vines—a wavering line insistent upon joining the fragmented parts. Like listening to music or poetry, Laurie Tanner’s work offers a renewed sense of perception about the inevitability of the webs we weave (as human beings), especially when called into the entanglement of love and romance.

During the weekend of February 27-March 2, Pausa will celebrate its one-year anniversary. For those shows, as well as Pausa’s other upcoming concerts, check AV’s calendar listings or visit

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