Saturday, July 18, 2020

Alive and Well

 After a three-month hiatus, galleries in the Arts District are reopening and the traditional First Saturday Art Walk has become a day-long event to accommodate the rules of distancing with a predictable outcome: more time to contemplate, less time to socialize.
My first visit was at Octavia Art Gallery where four artists are featured for the exhibition Conceptual Creations: Collage and Assemblage. The bold red color from the objects on display in the window was an irresistible invitation to walk-in. Why Red from Robert Tannen, a gathering of his latest works, is by itself a show within the exhibition. Microwave, laptop, typewriter, rotary telephone, ..., all candidates for the dumpster, are instead preserved for eternity, embalmed in a bright red monochrome spray paint. Red for love here is for danger, emergency, an alarm about pollution, global warming and the threats they represent to the planet. Recycling is part of the solution, cloth hangers become wall sculptures or get a second life as supports for calligraphic meditative drawings. Also reflecting a Far Eastern influence, Regina Scully's compositions acquire a third dimension with  unknown pieces of objects embedded in her poetical landscapes. The Three Fates, 2020, a sculptural narrative scene, reconnects with a variety of media the artist explored in the past.
Assemblage and collage for Scott Andresen result in dreamy abstract pieces, so perfect they make us forget the industrious processes they underwent, including delicate mending with gold and silver leaf, a technique borrowed from Kintsugi the Japanese art of repairing ceramics applied to sandpaper, Andresen's medium of choice. James Henderson's works are a reflection about passing time with his selection of old photographs and pictures from vintage magazines. The mixed media layering builds a thick texture alluding at the accumulation of memories over the years.
Further on Julia Street, the visit at Callan Contemporary felt like stepping in an enchanted world. The monochrome installations from the ceramic artist Bradley Sabin recreate the magic of nature with swirls of flowers invading the gallery. The lively display keeps changing as the visitor walks back and forth, each unique flower anonymous among the flock.
Art in Doom which opened in March at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery was reviewed in "Premonitory", a post published earlier.
At Arthur Roger Gallery, the animals photographed by David Yarrow appear to awake from a long sleep. Walking by close-up shots of bear, gorilla, lion, confirms that gallery visits are indispensable to connect with the photographer's subjects. With more than a dozen mesmerizing new works, Troy Dugas's show offers another kind of adventure. More than a purely visual experience, his mandalas provide a meditative place to pause and reflect. When I look at Kris Wenschuh's compositions, I always wonder why the value of a painting is related to its size. The classically trained artist keeps producing small surrealist landscapes featuring icebergs, clouds, floating in blue skies, catching a certain light that evokes luminism. Twice Upon a Time, the title of the exhibition is perfectly fitting for a show which includes works from Leslie Staub known for her children's books illustrations.
July is supposed to be a slow month for the galleries... not this year!

photographs by the author:

Robert Tannen "Wood Burning Furnace with Logs", 2020
Kris Wenschuh "Trail of Light", 2020
Bradley Sabin "Coral Flower Wall Installation", 2020

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