Friday, April 10, 2009

Watermedia Wizards, part 2

Watermedia Wizards, part 2:
These Walls are Poppin’
By Tom Wachunas

The six artists’ 28 works that comprise this offering by the Watermedia Wizards (formerly known as Wizards of Watercolor) at Gallery 6000 are wildly varied in style and content. One thing the artists share, however, is the guidance they have received from fellow wizard Nancy Stewart Matin. She designs her instruction to inspire a daring spirit among her students in developing their personal esthetics. Of her approach, Matin has said, “The common thread is not any consistency of the artwork, but the consistency of commitment to experimentation – exploring any road less traveled. As you look about the show, you will see a whisper of the teacher, not a shout.”

That may be true to a large extent, but there’s still a whole lotta shoutin’ going on here. As in, to name only one interesting aspect of the show, electrifying colors rising from bold, tactile surfaces.

Matin’s “Chagall’s Teacup” and “Kimono in High Heels” are extremely fine evidence of her gift for composing engaging pictorial structures and laying in impossibly iridescent hues that make them seem illuminated from within.

Some of Judi Longacre’s work possesses a spirit of refreshing innocence akin to high-caliber illustrations you might encounter in children’s books. While her paintings can be comparatively innocuous in the presence of more muscular works in this show, they’re never vapid. And her “The Emperor’s Clothes,” with its electric greens and pinks, demonstrates a notable capacity for substantive abstraction.

Gail Wetherell-Sack is in fine form here with her sharp, sensitive eye for design and texture, creating works that are often whimsical without being wimpy. Her “Contemplation” is a marvelous, wiry seated nude rendered as a clear homage to Gustav Klimt.

Both Kristine Wyler and Lynn Weinstein deliver riveting compositions that straddle rich territory between ethereal representation of the recognizable and the purely abstract. Wyler’s dense “Through the Eye of the Needle” seems to convey a ghostly message with its wispy black markings suggesting calligraphy. And Weinstein’s “Navigating by the Stars” is a wonderfully poetic and spontaneous picture of nocturnal sailing.

For sheer painterly heft, visceral drawing, and remarkable versatility, there are the works by Kevin Maxwell. His “Red Figure at Window” transcends its small size with large, confident brushwork, as if each individual stroke is itself a compelling figure.

Collectively, these wizards of liquid magic have concocted an efficacious elixir for the eyes. And as viewers joining them on their less traveled roads, we can savor their satisfying potions. Drink up.

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