ArtId Art Blog
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Aside from its visual charms, the beauty part of the exhibition at William Baczek Fine Arts http://www.wbfinearts.com is the overview it gives to that category known as still life. Some paintings achieve trompe l'oeil realism; a few walk the edge between illusion and abstraction.
Some incorporate symbolic reference; others celebrate technical virtuosity. Humor, irony, grace all are there. So is the agreeable pleasure that derives from art both well made and intelligent.
Mark Zunino's quiet, empty rooms in glowing light, Katy Schneider's luscious bouquets and her seemingly casual arrangements of studio objects take apparently opposite views. Katja Oxman's astonishing prints, Robert Sweeney's synopsized food stuffs, Jeremiah Paterson's tour de force verisimilitude span the possibilities for still life.
David Baker works in oil on a fairly small scale, situating modest still life elements: a wildflower, a squash, a pair of shoes, a dress slipping off a hanger, within ordinary household interiors. Brushing and building forms and patches of light with a loose touch, he clarifies and focuses on selected objects, blurring everything around it ever so subtly, thus describing as vision functions.
Nicora Gangi, using pastel, invests her still lifes with meaning beyond the picture. In "Kings Give Ear," for instance, she jumbled onto a large tray an array of wine glasses, silver vessels, apples, the king of spades, and a watch and chain, certainly referring to religious texts that admonish earthly rulers to listen to God and to "fling away...possessions."
John Gibson's remarkable paintings and prints conjure up illusion, the tricks of painting. The patterned balls acquire illusionary volume, yet the marks and strokes of the painter/printmaker draw the eye to the canvas surface, asserting the other reality that is the artist's hand.
Barbara Groff turns pastel into tactile substance. Notice the old rush-seat chair in "Finely Woven." Occupying a shadowy space, it holds lengths of fabric of different textures, a basket, a straw bird's nest, feathers and spools of thread, all of which emerge from darkness into warm light. The deception is remarkable; the poetry reflects on craftsmanship as it occurs in nature and human endeavor.
Scott Prior's poetry simultaneously soothes and stings. The blossoms in "Roses at Sunrise" absorb the color of sky and water, concentrate it, join together with the landscape beyond their window frame. They awaken emotion equally blended of melancholy and wonder.
Larry Preston tried to be factual; he successfully replicated the liquid flesh of a lemon, or the texture of a china plate or a lily. But he couldn't keep a straight face. Endowing a pear with the proportions of the dinnerware beside it, tucking lilies into the arms of a smiling statue, he reassesses the art of making art.
Eric Wert, using a palette of radiant hues, admits a similar disconnect. Oh, the purple foil paper fools our eyes, but the brilliant flowers, we realize when we look closely, are infested with bugs. A stem end on the upside-down bouquet draws a dancer. And like his colleagues in this intriguing exhibit, he illuminates the tenuous hold reality claims, the alternate, other-world it simulates.
Off the wall: A trio of artists, Colleen L. Coleman, Walter James and Fethi Meghelli, are featured in "Witnessings: African-American Voices: A Celebration of African-American History." The show is at Springfield Technical Community College in the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery, until March 5. For hours and directions call (413) 755-5258.
"Small World 2004," the 30th annual Nikon International photomicrography competition, opened on a major television network show. Now it's in Herter Gallery at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Showing concurrently in the same place is "In Xanadu," watercolors and ceramic sculpture by Frank Ozereko. Both exhibits will be on view until March 4. The phone number is (413) 545-0976.
The Grubbs Gallery, in the Reed Campus Center at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, is hosting a retrospective of the work of Linda Batchelor, who makes monotype collages. The exhibit closes Tuesday afternoon. For more information call (413) 529-3000.