Matey’s often humorous works are sometimes provocative and always thought-provoking

Through the end of November, a mixed media exhibit by Carrabelle’s Joan Matey will be featured at The Gallery at High Cotton, home of JOBA Art Studios, so-named for artists Jenny Odom and Beth Appleton.

You can help the gallery welcome this outstanding artist to the gallery during an art opening reception party this Saturday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. This exhibition will be available to the public until Nov. 30 during regular hours, Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This diverse regional artist is known for her provocative dimensional works, environmental performance art and creative expressive works. With a museum curator background, Matey founded, teaches and creates for Carrabelle's magical Lantern Fest.

“Since childhood, I have expressed myself or escaped from reality’s harshness through artistic endeavors,” said Matey. “I use art to convey serious issues under the guise of an amusing, playful setting, and I strive to achieve emotional connection. I enjoy making dioramas depicting social behavior and I allow viewers to participate in the art piece in some cathartic way that helps them to share their feelings.”

In “Who’s the Boss of YOU?” Matey’s father’s old briefcase houses an entire office complex. “I hang a photo of my father over the piece, which shows him with his briefcase and 120 other businessmen at a conference,” she said.

“Drawing from my own experiences, I give the viewers a lot of situations they can relate to,” she said. “Every hand-sculpted animal represents a real person in my work life, such as the ‘weasel’ who used to tell me dirty jokes while I was using the copy machine.”

Observers are invited to share an anonymous comment about their boss on a Post-it Note and the many comments saved from various shows comprise an amazing sampling of opinions and feelings from a broad spectrum of people, she said.

Similarly, “For the Best,” a piece about suicide, inspired by an old golf trophy, gives viewers an opportunity to place a glass tear drop to represent their lost loved one.

“I hope to inspire more artists to interpret their own feelings to produce a tangible, expressive representation of what’s important to them,” said Matey, who has developed a presentation about that entitled “Art Inten$ion: Art as an Emotional Response.”

One of her Matey’s loyal patrons is Dr. Patch Adams, who has purchased several of her artworks for a free hospital being built in West Virginia.

The daughter of Philadelphian Catholic parents who relocated to Florida, where Matey was raised, she earned a bachelor of arts from Florida State University. She then spent 10 years as a traveler, associating with vaudevillians, musicians, jugglers and artists, “getting a better education that if I had stayed put and pursued a masters.

“After my decade long walk-about, I rejoined society and have worked as a tutor, a graphic artist and a museum curator, all of which earn me a pleasant livelihood to this day,” she said.

In addition to her work as curator of the Crooked River Lighthouse, where she created Lantern Fest, Matey has an art studio (Squirrel Camp) where she produces her personal art, which includes an annual theatrical performance called the Fishy Fashion Show, with humorous outfits all made of discarded flotsam and jetsam to highlight environmental concerns.