Albritton Exhibition Brings Body Politics to Art Center Sarasota

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY JUN 19, 2019

If extraterrestrials ever stumbled across the modern gymnasium, a philosopher once mused, they might well confuse it for some self-service torture chamber, where the guilty strap themselves into fearsome machines and strain against metal weights in seemingly Sisyphean tasks. Yet the truth remains that gyms are packed, day and night, rain and shine, with men and women of all ages. The latest exhibition from Florida artist Caitlin Albritton wants audiences to think about why, and a panel discussion tonight at Art Center Sarasota wants to help kickstart the conversation about gender issues and body politics.

Entitled Let’s Get Physical and on display in Gallery 3 at Art Center Sarasota, the exhibition features 12 paintings from Albritton’s Gym Series, including a 2017 composition previously selected for the June cover of New American Paintings. The majority of the pieces come from 2019, however, with the artist working in rich purples and blues, reds and oranges—gem tones for gym scenes—as she captures her imagined subjects mid-routine (or mid-ritual). Closely cropped, the images eschew faces and romanticization, forgoing idealized forms and photoshopped perfection for something more relatable to the everyday gym scene. Figures struggle, they sweat, they contort in unglamorous ways—and they keep going, frozen mid-rep by Albritton’s brush for all eternity.

“It was a way to focus on body language,” she says, and explore “the limits and potential of body language,” when the audience has no face to read for emotion or mood.

In some ways, the artist says, the gym can be seen as commentary on an entire overworked world, where under a veneer of cooperation it becomes a competition of all against all, including self, and especially for women. Build a family, build a business, build a brand, Albritton says, “Oh, and also have a beach body with six-pack abs.” In response, the work takes on strong feminist undertones, with images of women helping women, and sly subversion of the male gaze.

Addressing these topics and more, a panel discussion, "Getting Physical," will be assembled tonight at 6pm at Art Center Sarasota with Albritton, licensed marriage therapist and certified sex therapist Dr. Mary Davenport, and Tim Watnem, owner of Balance Health + Fitness in Sarasota. Free and open to the public, the discussion will be moderated by curator Nathan Skiles.

Currently on display at Art Center Sarasota, Let’s Get Physical runs through July 5.

Pictured: 'Deep Squat Spot' by Caitlin Albritton.

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