Thursday, July 9, 2020
Holly Manneck Pairs Icons of Past with Techniques of Today to Create Narratives
Holly Manneck ‘s “James Dean” 9with Elizabeth Taylor) is a 48—by-36—inch work utilizing silk screening, digital silk screening and photography with acrylic and mixed paints.
Thursday, December 26, 2019


Holly Manneck takes a familiar box of Crayons and adds her own touch, creating a work that speaks to “Diversity.”

She’s taken a Hunt’s ketchup bottle, placing a tomato on top and surrounding it with social media icons. Then she’s inscribed the message, “You can’t put it back in the bottle,” noting that social media has become a part of our lives.

And she’s drawn Native American pictographs into the clothing of Native American chiefs while depicting social media icon imagery in their headdresses to show how similar, rather than different, we are as humans.

Holly Manneck says “LIZ in Control Liz Taylor with Lasso” is a 30-by-60-inch piece created with silk screening, digital silk screening and photography with acrylic and mixed paints. (NOTE: This is just part of the work as it's actually a vertical piece.)

“I wanted to show that we’re more alike than not,” she said. “Humanity brings us together as people and we shouldn’t forget that.”

Manneck, who divides her time between Naples, Fla., and White Sulfer Springs near Helena, Mont., is  having her first exhibition at Mitchell Contemporary, 400 Sun Valley Road. Her work will be feted from 5 to 8 p.m. during the Christmas Gallery Walk on Friday, Dec. 27.

Complimentary cocktails presented by The Cellar Pub and Party Animal Vodka—a craft Idaho vodka made from locally sourced russet potatoes--will be served, along with non-alcoholic refreshments.

Holly Manneck works in a style she calls New American/Pop Art because of the way she merges technical and fine art aspects. She is represented in galleries from coast to coast, and her work is collected internationally.

Holly Manneck says she fell in love with the beauty of Sun Valley and its great restaurants while here a year ago. “It reminds me of New England, of Vermont, where I grew up.”

“I’ve always been interested in culture—I started out as a social worker and traveled all over the world, living in Norway, Germany, the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands for a time,” she said.

She went back to school, studying graphic design, fine art and photography at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and emerged using iconic images, advertisements and retro art to explore cultural ideas and issues.

Tim Mitchell, who opened Mitchell Contemporary in Ketchum last year, met Manneck when she and her husband visited his gallery in the summer of 2018 shortly after it opened. Impressed with his approach, they invited him to see Manneck’s work at the juried Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival.

“I thought she was a good fit given her western themes,” he said.

The art Mitchell chose for this exhibition include one depicting Clint Eastwood in “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” as well as works featuring Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

“I like celebrities because I love the movies and I love music,” she said. “Celebrities are artists. Clint Eastwood is an artist, and he is still relevant today and continues to be a forward thinker. He’s also a role model for any artist, as he and others keep the arts alive.

“And look what Robert Redford and Paul Newman have done for the arts and humanities,” she added. “They’re always doing things to improve things for others. Just look at Newman’s Own Foundation.”

Manneck’s art calls to mind the pop art of Andy Warhol. But her work is much more complex, said Mitchell.

She employs a variety of techniques including photography, silkscreen, digital photography and painting.

Often, she’ll start with an underpainting using acrylics and other painting materials. Or, a historical image combined with one of her own photographs, creating a digital montage. She’ll overlay these with monotype printmaking before creating something more painterly with a digital silkscreen or acrylic paint or ink over it.

Her digital silkscreen done via computer is sharper than the traditional method of silkscreen, Mitchell said.

“Her works are pretty intense. There’s a lot there. And I love how she captures the energy with a narrative and a message,” he added. “I think pop art is very exciting. I love the color palette, and I love how it pops. And it’s so interesting to see Holly’s take on icons that have meant something to America and American values. She gets a lot of emotional value out of the characters who have made an impact on American culture, such as The Beatles, Mick Jagger and James Bond.”

Many of Manneck’s paintings are a slice of life past and present. She scours consignment stores for old entertainment photos and vintage magazine and newspaper ads. Then she’ll use them to address the different reflections of women over the years as bathing beauties, cowgirls and ski patrollers.

Sometimes, she’ll use comic book imagery in—say, her depiction of Wonder Woman.

She’ll turn an image of Robert Redford and Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid into something fresh, using techniques of today to show them wearing popcorn box shirts representing movie classics instead of the western shirts that they wore in the film.

And she’ll create relationships between classic movie stars and social media logos to make connections between generations. Grandparents might, for instance, fixate on Marilyn Monroe while their grandchildren are noticing the Twitter symbols Manneck has infused the piece with.

“Works like these reflect how we are as people today and how we were in days gone past,” she said. “I want to create a soul in my work as people take it in. You do borrow and learn from the masters of the past like Warhol, but you want to bring it to the future for future generations.”

“There’s a lot of message and storytelling with in all of my pieces,” she added. “The images I use are nostalgic. But as you spend more time looking, you see things that were not noticeable at first glance. I don’t want my works to be obvious. I want the messages to be revealed slowly.”


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