Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Paper, scissors and rock

Paper/New England
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 729-1146
New England Now
Thrugh Jan. 11, 2008.

New England Now is the first show for new Hartford-based arts organization Paper/New England. According to Brian Friedberg, who is doing publicity work for the organization, the intention is to feature a wide array of artworks in or on paper. This could, in theory, include installation artwork such as Nadya Volicer's "Kite Walk," which was featured at Real Art Ways Four Solo Exhibitions this past spring. But primarily, one should expect prints, drawings, paintings on paper and book arts.

Sans installations, there is a wide range of media represented in this show. While there is some abstraction, most of it is representational with an emphasis on environmental and landscape imagery.

Dudley Zopp's "Erosion 8" and "Erosion 10" are beautiful renderings of round worn stones in a stream. The rush of water is conveyed with Zopp's heavily diluted drip and wash of acrylic paint, as if captured in a long camera exposure. Stone also gets its due in Robert Manning's "High Sarsen, Avebury Stone Circle, England." This is a large drawing of a creviced, pocked and cracked ancient monolith, executed with charcoal and conté. Without background elaboration, the large stone has features that seem to contain hints of faces of ancient creatures, a mythical bestiary memorialized in stolid earth.

Time is also an element in Bryan Nash Gill's "Four Square." A wood engraving, the image is made of four fracturing squares that look like cross-cut tree segments marked by circular age rings. Above it is a monotype by Gill, "Cardboard Box." Inked sections of corrugated cardboard have been composed in such a way as to create the illusion of an open cardboard box.

There are a couple of very nice pastels, two by Stephen Brown and one by Louise Hamlin. Where Hamlin achieves an effect akin to oil painting, Brown uses a somewhat lighter touch that captures an airy light much as watercolor might.

Lois Tarlow's two peeled relief works are like night and day. "Descent at Dawn" is a piece of white paper with a couple of dozen curved tears cascading in a smooth diagonal over the surface from upper left to lower right center. "Night Flight," on the other hand, is on torn black paper. Here the tears are more randomly placed. Set side by side, they complement and reinforce each other, a simple but effectively rendered idea.

Tayo Heuser's "Circle #1" is a pen and ink work on burnished paper. In Heuser's large square work, there is a series of differently colored concentric circles on a yellow background. A profusion of delicate white and yellow lines radiate from the center, generating an outrush of energy.

Six large panels of lightly blue tinted paper abut each other to form Nona Hershey's work "Reconnaissance." One large circle runs through and connects all the panels, inscribing a scene of a cloud-filled sky drawn with graphite powder and pencil. Some are dark almost to the point of blackness while others are just tinges of gray. Hershey's graphite dust grips the paper in tiny sparkles like a fine mist.

There are a couple of examples of book art in the show, a medium Friedberg says the gallery plans to showcase. These include pages from a book by Jim Lee about the creation story of the Mi'kmaq, an indigenous people in Canada. Handset letterpress type forms the text. It is lovingly illustrated with color reduction woodcut imagery: The Great Bird, a teepee in a forest, a turtle shell and large eroded stone forms in the Bay of Fundy. Claire Van Vliet's The Gospel of Mary offers the text and an interpretation of the Gnostic gospel with a beautiful abstract pop-up paper design in the center.

New England Now is an auspicious start for the new organization/gallery.

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