|Joan Grubin's E Pluribus is part of Unraveling at the Opalka Gallery in Albany|
Unraveling includes Adams, Joan Grubin, Ruby Palmer, and Christina Tenaglia, all of whom have ample room in the big space to spread their wings, and they all do so by bringing aspects of installation into their presentations.
|Yura Adams - Geologic Time, acrylic and ink on Tyvek|
A large panel near the entrance to the gallery introduces the show with a concise, cogent statement from the curator that explains the intention of the title, including equally valued interpretations that relate to the current unraveling (or falling apart) of society and the unraveling (or solving) of a mystery, in this case through the artists’ steady explorations. Her summary statement celebrating the act of “creation in the face of uncertainty” aptly describes the show’s purpose and relevance.
Though the curator’s introduction states that these are “four women artists,” it really doesn’t matter to me whether they are women or not. The qualities of perseverance and resourcefulness they exemplify are generally embodied by all significant artists (it’s pretty much part of the job description), regardless of gender.
|Ruby Palmer used a minimalist dollhouse to display|
ten small sculptures, five on each side
Rather, I respond to a strong collection of mostly abstract work that emphasizes form and color more than content. There is an arguably feminine perspective in Grubin’s wall-size construction, where the traditionally female craft of weaving is employed, and a few household objects that reference domesticity (including a loop potholder) are deployed, but it is so much more than that. After all, every one of us is caught in life’s vast networks, as helpless as the fly in a spider’s web. The title, E Pluribus, and the placement of tiny photographs of Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela among the many parts, reveal a broader political interpretation and an inclusiveness that I think supports this point.
|Ruby Palmer - Surprise Ending|
acrylic paint on basswood
These strengths are also in evidence in Tenaglia’s collection of more than 30 discrete items, eight of which are wall drawings, all of them nominally presented as one piece under the title halftones and densities. An additional installation is slyly tucked behind a freestanding wall, all of its many elements painted the same shade of gallery white as the wall itself. I particularly enjoy Tenaglia’s skilled-yet-roughshod handling of her materials, which range from raw wood to fired porcelain, and her innovative investigation of shapes.
|An untitled object in painted wood|
by Christina Tenaglia
Unraveling will remain on view through Saturday, Dec. 19. The gallery has generous hours (including through 8 p.m. on Thursdays) and is operating with smart COVID protocols: Masks are required, temperature is taken and travel/exposure questions answered upon entry, and a phone number is recorded for contact tracing.
|Installation view of Christina Tenaglia's halftones and densities|