As anyone who has ever been kneaded beneath the honed fingers of a masseuse will attest, there's an art to giving a good massage. You must know the layout of the muscles, the proper oils and the appropriate pressure points. Your technique must be firm but never painful, sensual without being lewd. Although no longer an artist herself, Marilynn Tolmachoff remembers the words of her former oil painting instructor, who said that although many of her students may not actively pursue the field, they should find the art in everyday activities. That lesson led Tolmachoff to create the Bodyworks Gallery, a parlor that allows patrons to peruse the works of local artists as they await her professional fingers.
"When people get a massage, they're looking for relaxation and de-stressing," Tolmachoff says. "When they're here, they may look at the art and then afterwards, hopefully they'll look to purchase." In Tolmachoff's artistic space, you can see paintings, drawings, sculpture, metal and glassworks, rotated every two months or so. There's even a collection of pieces in the commode, affectionately referred to as the Reflective Gallery. "I want art everywhere," Tolmachoff explains.
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Tolmachoff intended to keep the room white, like other galleries, but her feng shui building inspector told her to paint the walls yellow and put in a love seat to get the metaphysical balances right. "Later, I thought, maybe she's got an idea," Tolmachoff says, though she's not quite ready to commit just yet. Another possibility is mood music by local musicians.
The majority of Bodyworks' artists were found through the Art League of Houston or by word of mouth. Tolmachoff discovered one when she came looking for therapy for a central nervous disorder. According to Tolmachoff, art, spirituality and healing are all rooted in the same place. "Our society is right-brain dead," Tolmachoff says. "Yet, it's very healing for us .Your creative source is what's going to be rejuvenating."
Health, mental awakening, finding peace in a chaotic world, whatever excuse you choose to be fondled by strangers, here's one everyone can agree on: It makes you feel good. That's not such a bad reason to buy a painting you like either.
Works from various artists in various media will be on display at the "Summer Under $100" show. The opening reception is Saturday, July 15, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Bodyworks Gallery, 2600 Persa, suite 1. For more information, call (713)412-5032.