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Monday, June 29, 2009

Reunion show rocks Hull's Gallery One Whitney

Hull's Gallery One Whitney
1 Whitney Ave., New Haven, (203) 907-0320
3 After 30: Roberta Friedman, Natalie Melbardis, David Millen with guest Maishe Dickman
Through July 9, 2009.

As Part I of the Hull's Gallery One Whitney "Summer Salon," the venue is hosting 3 After 30. It is a reunion show of sorts, featuring three artists—Roberta Friedman, Natalie Melbardis and David Millen—who exhibited together 30 years ago at a Whitney Avenue gallery. There is also an installation piece and several vessels by guest artist and master potter Maishe Dickman.

Friedman is represented by a number of wonderful watercolor collages. These new works have roots in her earlier watercolors. One of those older pieces, "Autumn Reflections" from 1979, is a serenely fluid depiction of orange, red and golden leaves on a pond surface.

Stepping three decades ahead finds Friedman still preoccupied with landscape but approaching it with a richer and more experimental aesthetic. "Tanzania Vista" (2009) is typical of her contemporary approach. Instead of painting a straightforward watercolor of the scene (shore, jungle, mountains in the distance), Friedman layers pieces, strips, fragments of watercolor-painted paper, some of which looks handmade. This approach creates a vibrant surface that better captures the feel of nature—unruly, wild and beautiful.

David Millen, who I have written about previously, is showing several of his smaller scale figurative sculptures (as well as some porcelain vessels). Millen's sculptures are characterized by the grace of the interaction between his troupe of dancers, gymnasts and circus aerialists. Miller, with most of these, is working with marbleized epoxy resin to create his figures. They are mounted on a steel base. "Forming a Circle" features three figures. Two males (one standing on his hands) hold a woman up in the air. There is a strong visual circularity to the composition, flowing from the way Millen directs the energy from figure to figure (as though they are swimming after each other). This illusion of movement is accented by the swirling color of the smooth, marbleized surface.

Melbardis' pieces are the most disparate selection in the show, encompassing black and white collages, color collages in quilt-like geometric patterns and a couple of acrylic on paper paintings that combine Pollockesque density with a controlled intricacy of execution.

There are several beautiful pieces of stoneware by
Dickman in the show, particularly the stunning "16-Tile Wall Piece."

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