Sunday, July 28, 2013

Different Strokes

Different Strokes

By Tom Wachunas

    “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” –Henry David Thoreau

    “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” –Albert Einstein

EXHIBIT: Adjunct Faculty at Malone University, McFadden Gallery, located in the Johnson Center for Worship and the Fine Arts, 2600 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton. Open for viewing during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Works by Liz DeBellis, Todd Biss, Heather Bryson, Laura Donnelly, Li Hertzi, Richard Hugget, Susan McClelland, Michele Waalkes, Sarah Winther Shumaker, THROUGH AUGUST 9

    Some of you faithful readers may have noticed that of late I’ve not been my usual prolific ARTWACH self. Never before has so much time passed (nearly three weeks!) between posts. The previous one doesn’t really count as it’s not my own writing. No, I’ve not been “on vacation” –  I’ve forgotten what that means anymore. That’s certainly not a complaint, mind you.

    I’m remembering that sobering scene in Dances With Wolves when a trail guide, peering down at a human skeleton that Kevin Costner discovered in the sun-drenched prairie grass, smirks and comments, “Somebody back East is sayin’, ‘Why don’t he write?’” I’ve simply been very committed to other projects which, as life would have it, tend to occasionally collide and greedily feast on my time.

    One casualty of my critiquing hiatus was the most recent group show at Translations Gallery, Those Who Can. While I greatly enjoyed the viewing experience – a thoroughly engaging range of work – I was unable to record here any thoughts. I think that’s been the only show I’ve missed writing about from that important gallery since its inception, and I really do apologize. Tempus fugit.

    Speaking of thoroughly eclectic content, though, there’s still a little time (Monday to Friday during business hours) to take in the excellent Adjunct Faculty Exhibit at Malone University’s McFadden Gallery. I saw the show shortly after it was installed in May, and I mention here just a few of the fine works that have persistently clamored for comment before the show ends on August 9.

    In the past, I found some of Sarah Winther Shumaker’s earlier mixed media explorations, in varying degrees, to be somewhat formally awkward and unresolved. But here, in her sleek stoneware and encaustic wall piece Amalgamation, there’s no such shortcoming. All the variations in texture, pattern motifs, and color work together toward an elegant geometric harmony. It’s a beautifully designed, tactile gem of gleaming symmetry that is at once pristine and earthy.

    Growth, by Liz DeBellis, is a gently crinkled, printed “curtain” of sheer fabric that is more a conjuring of fleeting sensations than it is a solid object. Both veiled and revelatory, its gossamer texture evokes a duality - the cycles of life in bloom and decay.

   Most intriguing about Heather Bryson’s Conscious/Unconscious- An Ode to Mark Rothko is how it manages to embody the serene, often somber ethereality of Rothko’s large oil canvases in such an unlikely, counterintuitive fashion. While Rothko immersed us in visual mysticism via fields of subtly undulating color, this intimately scaled homage by Bryson is in pencil – a studied meditation in moody dark grays and soft, misty mid-tones. Mysticism indeed, it’s a haunting picture of the unpicturable.

    On a lighter (though not insignificant) note are the three acrylic ink on canvas entries by Richard Hugget - the refined freneticism of a highly playful imagination. You’ll be reading more about his work in my next entry, I assure you. And I won’t be letting three weeks pass before posting it.

PHOTOS, from top: Amalgamation by Sarah Winther Shumaker; Growth by Liz DeBellis; Dish Rags by Laura Donnelly; Conscious/Unconscious- An Ode to Mark Rothko, by Heather Bryson    

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