Saturday, July 30, 2011

ATMOSCAPES


ATMOSCAPES
By Tom Wachunas

Those of you of a mind to cruise the archives herein might wish to re-visit my March 30 post of this year. There, I wrote about an exhibit at Second April Galerie of paintings by the late David Grant Roth. That show was appealing to me on several levels. Ever since seeing it, I’ve wanted to show his exquisite work at Gallery 6000, the space I curate on the Kent Stark campus. In fact, Roth’s work had resonated in my memory with such persistence that they inspired the theme of “Atmoscapes,” the new Gallery 6000 show that opens Tuesday, August 2. So here’s a special thank-you to Brennis Booth of Second April for his allowing me to borrow five Roth works that have been in his care.

With their gentle swells of thin, amorphous pools and clouds of luminescent hues, Roth’s color-field abstracts are conceptually simple, easy on the eyes, retreats for the soul, and places to reflect on - if not be fully immersed in - serenity. And it’s that notion of ‘spiritual place’ that I wanted to embrace with this show - places familiar as well as strange and mysterious, without being too unwelcoming. The works by the other participating artists – Lynn Digby, Carol McGill, Michele Waalkes, and Michael Weiss – bring a rich spectrum of complementary and compelling visions to this gallery journey.

Lynn Digby is a deliciously versatile painter. The brush work in her representational oil works here is laid in with an impressively fluid confidence, effectively embodying nature’s luscious physicality along with its atmospheric subtleties. “Sanctuary” is an impressionistic work stunning not just for its dynamically structured composition, but also in its marvelous concentration of light on the central boulder and sylvan pool of crisp, sparkling water.

Carol McGill’s acrylic canvases are less overtly representational than Digby’s. For all of their up-front color intensity and saturation, they have a distinctly ethereal presence. Her distant, expansive “skies” and horizons are gently punctuated with vaguely-defined masses both liquid and earthy. Amid the dominant, hot reds and analogous fiery hues (layered planes of color looking more rubbed or stained into the canvas than brushed on), McGill deftly introduces subtly blended transitions into cooler-colored edges or larger passages, bringing a fascinating tension to her distillations of hauntingly beautiful panoramas.

In Michele Waalkes’ elegant photo transfers of natural scenery on to sheer fabrics (which includes the occasional sewing of fiber elements directly on to the picture), the resultant images transcend the confines of pure photography. These are intimate, playful, and contemplative manipulations of the picture plane that, rather than shrouding or corrupting the images, give them a surprising, magical depth.

A magical intimacy is also at work in the digital pieces by Michael Weiss. But his intriguing photoshop prestidigitations have a decidedly painterly sensibility. With their ingenious patina of scratches and smoky, vintage colors, they look like they could be photographs of aged canvases depicting a mysterious and topsy-turvy world. There’s a Rene Magritte - meets - Harry Potter air in pieces such as “The Boat” and “Dropping Books Instead of Bombs.” In its eerie symbolism and dream-like scenarios, Weiss’s digital wizardry masterfully draws on a Surrealist tradition. And like all the works in this show, his are solidly poetic and evocative.

ATMOSCAPES opens at Gallery 6000, located in the University Center at Kent Stark, with a reception for the artists on Tuesday August 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Please RSVP to Becky DeHart at (330) 244-3518 or rdehart@kent.edu.

Photo: “Dropping Books Instead of Bombs” digital image by Michael Weiss, courtesy of the artist.

1 comment:

Gary Heller said...

Excellent post. Love the image here by Michael Weiss. Great concept and texture with ,as you describe an old photographic aesthetic.