Holly Goes Pop!

 

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'Summer Swim'

Manneck appreciates the diversity

in her audience. Where younger people

are typically attracted to the color

and technology in her work, the older

set might have a fond memory

attached to the original image

enhanced by Holly’s expressionism.

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ABOVE, TOP TO BOTTOM: 

‘Always Keep Your Eye on the Ball',

‘Good and Plenty', ‘Walking the Dogs’

“Sometimes, I’ll see an image that I

really like and hold onto it for several years before I implement it into my work. 

Sometimes that image grows with you

and becomes a new painting.”

Holly Manneck in her studio in Naples.

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by Julie Clay

 

NAPLES-BASED ARTIST Holly Manneck creates her self-described ‘New American Pop Art’ to express her views and bring an array of images to life within each piece she produces. Her works reflect our culture past and present while also adding that representative layer of Holly’s own technique and individuality. The process typically begins with historical press photos or her own photography; then she adds a layer of imagery by painting over them.

Holly’s vivid, thought-provoking creations line the walls of her Naples Art District studio. Matted canvases are stacked neatly for sale while an array of paint in hundreds of different colors vie for attention in the area where Manneck’s works come to life on canvas after their humble digital beginnings. Technology plays an integral part of her creative process in a profession that often is an antithesis to the screen. 

“I don’t run away from technology; I like to incorporate it into my work and our vocabulary,” Holly told me over the phone a couple of days earlier.  “The old masters were always doing something new and trying to push the envelope. They were always creative and experimenting. That’s what draws me to art. I’m extremely curious, and it suits my personality. I like people discovering things in my art.”

Discovering Manneck’s art is something that’s been happening for well over 20 years. Her award-winning work has been part of an impressive lineup of juried shows throughout Southwest Florida, her summer Montana home base, and many shows in Grand Cayman. Her life of traveling the world represents the international flair in her work. Being an artist, surprisingly, wasn’t her initial career goal. Traveling was more her first love. 

“I had always been interested in different cultures and traveling. Pop art really covers a lot of that. It’s about what we value in our culture and common places and just things that we all experience and ideas, too. Pop culture can be political and always changing,” says Manneck. 

Born and raised in Vermont, Holly attended the University of Vermont, where she participated in a cultural immersion program to study in Norway. Fascinated by learning a different culture and language, she returned the following summer to work in Oslo before returning to finish school and earn a degree in social work. 

   

However, the traveling bug had its firm grip on Holly. Rather than jump into a job with the Department of Children & Families or study for her Masters, she followed its nudge and took a job first on a cruise ship based out of Miami, followed by several years with Norwegian Cruise Lines. It was during this time that she met her German husband. Upon returning to the States, Holly looked for a profession that she could do while traveling. Graphic design seemed to be a good option, plus photography and fine art, all of which she studied at Plymouth State University in New Hamphire.

  

Then it was time for another move, this time to Grand Cayman. “That was another international culture there,” Holly remembers. “When we came back to the states, I went from abstract painting to blending all the skills I had learned in school with photography. It was a way of expressing myself, my ideas, and how I saw everything.” 

  

This new approach became the real turning point in her life. As Holly pondered what she enjoyed doing, like listening to the news and keeping up with what was around her, she realized that she could adequately share and express her experiences and point of view through pop art. By incorporating a variety of techniques like photography, fine art printmaking, and regular painting, Holly had found her niche.  

  

“It’s a kind of silkscreen method,” Manneck shares, that starts with a capture of an image on her computer, then its transfered onto a canvas through a fine art method called ‘mono-printing’, which is used to make unique prints. Then it’s time for the real magic as Holly lets go with her vision, painting her picture upon it. 

  

“I’ve developed this technique that works for me, from all the art I’ve learned about,” Holly expresses, “I don’t know what technique you’d call it. I don’t use paper. It’s a style I developed myself, so I don’t know what category to put it in.” It’s self-expression in its purest form, one might say. “People might interpret it in a different way. It’s a common experience to share with them. Others may see things in a different way than I do.”  

  

Paintings involving women are some of Manneck’s more famous creations. She starts with an image of a woman, such as Marilyn Monroe or Coco Chanel, and applies images to the background. She may change the face in a particular image as she tries to portray women in an empowering manner. “I always want to share women in a strong light. You might remember a movie or a time that makes you reflect on certain times that you had forgotten about.” Some of Holly’s works might take you back to that particular special moment. 

  

Manneck appreciates the diversity in her audience. Where younger people are typically attracted to the color and technology in her work, the older set might have a fond memory attached to the original image enhanced by Holly’s expressionism.

  

A perusal of her pop art is a clear explanation of her voice. In ‘4 Fab Pop Stars’, a portrait of The Beatles gets her treatment with an added background of tootsie pop wrappers in sharp blue contrast to their black and white outfits. ‘Diversity’ is a close-up view of a pack of Crayola crayons, but the word diversity is placed where the name would be, with the saying ‘world color made in America’ beneath. In an ode to fashion magazines, ‘Fun in the Sun’ takes a Harper’s Bazaar cover, and a layer of vivid colors makes it her own. 

   

“Sometimes, I’ll see an image that I really like and hold onto it for several years before I implement it into my work. Sometimes that image grows with you and becomes a new painting,” Holly articulates. Other times, thoughts combine for a new creation. About her piece ‘Kravitz and Mickey’, she says, “I was doing a piece with Lenny Kravitz, and I was thinking about Mickey Mouse and his birthday. I thought about doing celebrities wearing Mickey Mouse celebrating his 100th birthday.” As I am a fan of Kravitz’s music, this one stood out to me while visiting her studio. With its bright blue and yellow hues, it’s a definite conversation piece at an impressive 5 feet wide x 4 feet tall.

   

Large portraits are Holly’s preferred size. Each panel of her triple panel portrait of Clint Eastwood, ‘The Great Unforgiven One’, is 10 feet high x four feet wide — a total of 12 feet wide x 10 feet high. “It’s such a statement!” she exclaims. “I kept the subject simple, but the size of the image was impressive.” Another of her paintings is of a woman coming out of one of those old red telephone booths. It’s called ‘You Rang’ because she had an ‘S’ on her belt (like Superman). “That was to empower women that we can do anything,” Holly affirms. 

   

“When I paint people, I end up learning about them. It honors their artistry also. I learn all these things about these people I do,” Holly reflects. She recalls learning all about David Bowie’s artistry and music when painting a series about him a few years ago. 

After a life of traveling and experiencing the world, creating pop art has proven to be the right groove to both reflect her life and growth as an artist, and the audience agrees. Holly’s art is constantly in demand and enjoyed in galleries and private collections everywhere. There’s no slowing down for her, either. The urge to express herself is constant.

  

“I feel so empty when I can’t create something. It’s always been in me. I think sometimes life’s experiences bring you to the point of painting. It took me a long time to get there, but it’s just worked out for me. I’m very fortunate that I’m doing something I love to do.”   •

Holly Manneck’s studio is located at 6260 Shirley St., studio 607, in the Naples Art District. Call 404-8019 for information.

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January/February 2022