The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 16, 2005


Established artist embraces another medium
Admirers of the vibrant silk scarves painted by Imadiel Ariel, and expecting to see more of the same at the artist's show at the Gleason Library, may find themselves disappointedat least momentarily. The latest Art at the Gleason offering, running September 7 through November 1, does feature a small number of Ariel's original silk scarves. Prices range from several hundred dollars for the wearable pieces up to $9,600 for a huge framed piece. The brilliantly-hued scarves, however, are more of an afterthought than the focus of the show.

"Now I'm really disconnecting myself from the silk painting," she says. She finds the craft-show model of selling textiles exhausting. Three years ago she painted her first watercolor, and slowly it has ended up taking almost all of her artistic attention. The show includes more than a dozen and a half watercolor paintings, and about 24 pieces overall. The smallest paintings are 5" x 7." The largest ones are about 18" x 29" in size. Most pictures were painted in the last two years. The artist, currently living in Wellesley, rents a large studio space at Carlisle's Highland Building, a former school in the town that the Emerson Umbrella uses to provide studio space for artists. The high ceilings and huge rooms are ideal for artist studios.

Visitors to the art show may find it incredible that the same artist who painted the rich scarves also painted such muted watercolors. The artist's trademark shocking shades of color have morphed to gentler shades. The still-life images and landscape content are recognizable, yet more abstract than realistic. By changing mediums from fabric to canvas, the color expert can now apply her paints to reflect light to a much greater degree. Ariel has priced the framed pieces from $295 up to $1,200.

Reinventing the artist

Imaldiel Ariel showing her quilt
Born in Paris, also known, appropriately enough, as "the City of Light," Ariel grew up in a country ravaged by World War II. Her father, a Romanian Jew, had been active in the underground, and was a leader in organizing ships for Jews to leave France.

The young girl grew up outside Paris in the French countryside. "Even as a child, I was really in love with nature," Ariel recalls. "I remember the bees making honey outside and the smell of the peaches. I remember being very sensitive to all these things." At the age of four, she was already reading. By the age of seven, however — like many young girls — her artistic career was set on becoming a ballerina. She attended a very competitive dance school for a year, but then ended up leaving that dream behind. She began painting and drawing, and found herself mesmerized by the light. She loved sunny days, and calls the light "magical."

As a teenager living in France and then Jerusalem, Ariel was involved with academics and had little time for painting. She did take one art class, and completed her first large painting but that was it. After serving her requisite stint in the Israli military, she went to college in a mid-Eastern country where she studied design. After graduation, she returned to Paris in 1974, before heading to the United States that same year intent on continuing her studies. She obtained a scholarship at Tufts University where she focused on urban planning.

Ariel took a photography course, and discovered a passion for the subject. After earning her degree, Ariel started consulting in the transportation and housing areas. By then, she had married a photographer, and each had their own darkrooms. She focused on black-and-white photography. The two eventually divorced.

"Photography really educated me in 'seeing' and understanding the connection between vision and emotion. And looking at subtle things — seeing detail very quickly in an instant. Things are here and then they are gone."

Ariel finds it ironic, that after her divorce she turned to color photography. Her love for color led her to try painting. In the 80s she took a silk painting class, and loved the medium, but she only completed one major piece. The years passed, and she worked in several jobs, even as a translator. In 1989, she found she needed a present for a good friend. She made a scarf, and was happy enough with the results that she produced another to sell. She quickly had a following at craft shows, and established an upscale clientele.

Carlisle welcomes the artist

Eventually, Ariel found her cramped apartment in Cambridge too limiting and she and a friend ended up renting a house from Wendy and Jim Davis on East Street. Ariel stayed for three years.

"I was in heaven," she recalls. "I had beautiful trees and garden, but a big commute." Ultimately, she moved to Wellesley. She came to rent space at the Emerson Umbrella and has taught classes there in silk painting since 1997. She especially enjoys teaching children, and offers instruction in art and the French language.

Ariel particularly likes the ability of silk to soak up color paint. In her work she has developed an expertise in color mixing and matching, a skill that serves her well in watercolor painting.

How long will the artist stay with watercolors? She is in the middle of experimentation and exploration, but has already achieved a high level of skill. For just as color and its application are an Ariel trademark, the multifaceted artist is always looking to learn.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito