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Two artists explore their paths and process for creative progress



Tom Toperzer and Paul Medina
7 p.m. Friday, opening reception
On display through July 10
MAINSITE Contemporary Art
122 E. Main, Norman

One painting, a single concept or even a series spanning six years is not enough to build a professional career in art, so finding the next great direction in one's creative life is key to making a passion a lasting profession. Local artists Tom Toperzer and Paul Medina have managed to establish themselves as career artists, and the approaches each takes to uncover a new direction are as different as the art itself.

The pair have joined for an exhibition opening Friday at Mainsite Contemporary Art
in Norman.

Toperzer is a nonobjective artist who creates heavily detailed drawings where curving lines are densely layered on rectangular sheets and then placed on a canvas, balancing symmetry and chaos. He often starts a painting without a specific idea of where the work will end, but Toperzer believes that the idea will reveal itself with time.

"Most artists you talk to will tell you that they discover while working " things happen they see that they've never seen before, and they continue going down that trail," he said. "I start walking into a piece and the piece takes me over, so I just have to follow where it leads."

Medina has a more lighthearted approach to his work. He sees himself as a conceptual artist who, once he's found a grand idea that he likes, will latch on and ride it out to its logical conclusion.

His previous series lasted six years. Once he grew bored of that concept, he ducked into the studio to just "play" until he knew which direction his next adventure would take him.

That play lasted about a year and a half as Medina experimented with techniques and ideas he'd collected throughout his career, until he finally found a concept worth exploring. Partially inspired by themes of hope from the 2008 presidential election, he returned to themes he'd employed previously, but used them to create a type of art he never would have considered before.

"This series is titled 'New Growth.' It is acrylic paint, gold leaf and glass on found wood," Medina said. "I purposively went for real decorative work that is sculptural. If, 20 years ago, someone came up to me and told me my work was 'precious,' I would freak out and run the other way, but with this new work, I wanted to use that and take it to an extreme."

He admitted anyone who has followed him for only a few years will have a hard time recognizing his work, but those who have known him for the length of his career will see the common threads. He also isn't certain how long this new series will last.

"Sometimes, when you go on a walk, you don't realize you are going on a journey," Medina said. "You go in there and play with it and realize you like it. Then you realize it's been six years and you are bored with it, so you go for another walk that takes you on a different journey." "Charles Martin

top Tom Toperzer's "Holy Beauty" below Paul Medina's "The Thicket"

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