Sharon Maney LoManto’s work is an engagement with form, process and material. Her newest work, created in metal, spans distinctions between two-dimensional paintings versus minimal sculpture. It commands attention with its square or rectangular panels made of light -gauge steel. Much like auto design in the late-twentieth century, LoManto’s panel surfaces are emotionally cool, stable and conceptually spare. They gleam and absorb light. Their solidity derives not just from the masculinity of the material, but from the blunt contrasts of the Asian-inspired colors, which happen to figure among the shades most favored by Americans for the vehicles: red, black, silver and champagne.
These panels, not unlike contemporary cars, offer monochromatic, minimal sculptures, molded with clean lines and polished to the glossy sheen that has always made the vehicle sexy. It simply appeals to the primitive brain to enjoy shiny things. This mutual dependence ruminated in the artist’s mind many years since residing in the South land, until she decided to take on steel — a sturdy industrial weightiness that nonetheless makes one want to touch, stroke and sometimes even lick it surface.
LoManto has sought in her own art to strip concepts to their essence and to use materials as message. Here, she does so in composing broad visual koans. Archetypal forms become equivalent to verbal Zen paradox. The ‘paintings’ are just as much impenetrable matter as they are a portal in which the viewer is permitted to gaze into the boundless nature of light, flaunted by a reflective surface.
Furthermore, LoManto’s affinity for the grid, a device privileged by artists for the expansive yet orderly plane it provides, is also evident in much of her ongoing production. Often it has served as the tool by which she has most broadly communicated emotional and spiritual concepts. While her recent paintings in acrylic on canvas aimed to capture the power, infinite reach, and sublime beauty of nature, the artist’s “wind-whipped” strokes always related to this underlying structure. She used color, as in these newest panels, to express meaning. Here, bold reds and black touch upon her interest in Asian art and culture while the silvery tones of her previous paintings conveyed the essence of Monterey’s weather.
LoManto’s has faced many challenges as an artist over the past decade, some professional and other personal. Tough realities aside, LoManto today is actively painting, sculpting, and making photographs, using her Carmel home as studio.
Diana L. Daniels
Crocker Art Museum