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Monday, February 11, 2008

Strong small shows at Artspace

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Mt. Grandeur: Paintings by Cham Hendon
Unjoined Unity 3: Constructions and new work by Liz Pagano
Anomalies and other Oddities: A new installation by Tim Nikiforuk
thoughts of you...
Through Mar. 29, 2008

(02/13/08 NOTE: See update at end of post. HH)

Along with the main gallery show, Unnameable Things (to be reviewed in the near future), Artspace just debuted several small shows in their revamped gallery arrangement.

The work being shown by Liz Pagano in Gallery Four under the title Unjoined Unity 3 is a further elaboration on the mixed media constructions she has shown at ALL Gallery and City Gallery. Pagano layers glass or plexiglas that has been tinted, painted and/or scratched in box frames, creating two-way assemblages that interact with light.

Some, like "Unjoined Unity 1," have an urban feel—grime and paint on the windows, the accumulation of presences as abstract marks. Others—"Instinct 1-17," "Unjoined Unity 3," "L=LZ" and L=LY"—are evocative of natural processes and forms. With the washes of paint, there is a sense of being underwater, a feeling enhanced by marks that resemble coral or seaweed. It also appeared to me that Pagano's color palette has shifted from sanguineous reds to swimming aquas and turquoise. (At the opening, Pagano told me that, in fact, she had been using these colors previously.) It certainly feels, however, in this selection of works that the color emphasis has shifted. And with this shift, the emotional color becomes cooler, more meditative.

"thoughts of you...," the photo show in Gallery Seven curated by Jessica Smolinski, features works by photographers represented in Artspace's Flatfile. Each artist uses text within the work or titles that, paired with the visuals, invite the viewer to contemplate a narrative. Judy Gelles' photographs contrast time through paired images of the toys of a parent and a child. "Crayons 1954-1984" depicts one box of Crayolas for each of those years with the identifying text of "Mother" (a simple two-color box) and "Son" (a four-color box with "Built-In Sharpener"). (The 1984 box is quite similar to the box I worked from in the 1960's.) Identities, relationships and time are all refracted through the physical appearance of commodities.

Hannah Cole has been photographing while driving. (Is that more or less safe than texting or yakking on the cell?) She offers highway images, the blur of speed and guardrails, the sun glinting off an overpass, an endless horizon through a dirty windshield. Cole has pricked each image with pithy summations of the thoughts she had when snapping the shot. These are "to-do" notes, mostly mundane—"update Website," "dinner Monday?" And there is one not so mundane. Over a sun-bleached grassland extending into a mountainous distance, the pin-pricked message reads, "Schedule Biopsy."

Christine Shank
's C-prints were shot in a dollhouse. But the general orderliness of dollhouses is upended here. These are spaces of dysfunction, threat and literal upheaval. The chaos depicted visually is reflected in the titles—"They said it wouldn't get worse than this," "just a bruise." In "She had been told it was not a possibility," flames leap off a rumpled Oriental rug.

The installation wall drawing in Gallery Five (formerly the Project Room) by Tim Nikiforuk "Anomalies and Other Oddities," is in a style distinctly different from that of his stunning watercolors on display at Paper/New England in Hartford. Over walls painted in various shades of pink, Nikiforuk has drawn line images using pencil and markers. The shapes suggest maps, waterways, or roiling explosive biological or emotional processes. (Nikiforuk was inspired by aspects of cellular growth and mutation.) Throughout the kinetic line work there are discretely placed circles within circles. These nodules suggest parasitism, tumors, genetic markers.

Cham Hendon's acrylic landscapes are a highly personalized take on paint-by-numbers. Referring to a calendar photo for his Mount Grandeur series, Hendon combines controlled draftsmanship in his definition of forms with a far-out approach to using color. Using a technique he developed in the 1970's when "fooling around with process painting," swirls and pours colors within the areas defined by his "paint-by-number" outlines. The acrylic paint is mixed with a gel medium that dries to a stiff plastic surface. As though they were squeezed out of a toothpaste tube, colors are swirled together in tight squiggles. Hendon manages to define the contours and depth of his landscape image while at the same time generating intensely interesting clusters of abstraction. His four paintings are a fine complement to the Unnameable Things show of abstract paintings in the main gallery.

NOTE: I was remiss in not noting that there is another small show up at Artspace, that being John Bent's Suspended Animation 1 & 2. Bent's installations with animation are showing in the rest rooms. (Previous such shows have gone under the rubric of the "John and Jane Project." I'm not sure whether that is still the case or whether the water closets now have gallery numbers.) At any rate, it wasn't my intention to slight Bent by not including comments about it in this post. I didn't have enough time I could spend at the press preview to take adequate notes on his creations. I will comment on Bent's installations in the near future after I return to Artspace to also consider the Unnameable Things show.


Blogger jsmolinski said...

Martin Kruck's work is also featured in the "thoughts of you....." exhibit at Artspace!
Thank you!
-Jessica Smolinski

6:02 PM


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