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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Victoria Palermo: RAUM at John Davis Gallery (and other Hudson shows)

cant and wont - platinum cured silicone rubber

Here's a heads-up for serious followers of contemporary art: There's less than a week left to see the exhibition Victoria Palermo: RAUM at John Davis Gallery in Hudson, and you don't want to miss it. If Palermo is new to you, this is as good a time as any to start following her work; or if, like me, you've followed her career for decades, you will be deeply gratified to see this amazing new work.

Palermo (no relation to Blinky), has always worked intimately with color - painted onto found sticks, poured onto paper from a nail-polish bottle, printed in patterns like wallpaper or, in this case, infused into the jellylike body of sheets of pure silicone rubber. Equally, Palermo works with form - her work relates to abstract approaches, but never completely leaves the referential realm - and she is as much a designer as she is an artist. In other words, she has always carefully constructed her pieces, even though there is also a degree of expressive freedom in them.

more or less
The earliest pieces I know of hers verged on expressionism; this new work, instead, pulls from the purity of Modernist architecture to develop miniature worlds of space and light - and, of course, color. Her nine freestanding works in this show are all on the scale of a model, and are presented near eye level on pristine stands crafted of white panels set on top of galvanized steel legs.

This elevated point of view is effective, helping us to get in close and experience the little spaces from inside and out. Moving around them, their varying degrees of transparency and translucency create ever-changing blends of color. One can also imagine that different lighting, especially the cycle of natural light through a day, would add to this engaging process.

Like many artists today, Palermo gives her works curious titles that, like the pieces themselves, hover between the literal and the fantastic, such as no beginning no middle no end, and cant and wont (apostrophes purposely missing). Some of the titles are more playful, as are some of the pieces they label, like bookish, plaidish, and in candyland. Speaking of candy, this work tantalizes the sense of taste by closely resembling jelly candies (I'm waiting for one to be titled Turkish delight); forget the nearly irresistible temptation to touch these gooey, wiggly structures - you'll struggle with the temptation to take a bite.

domino theory
In addition to the sculptures, Palermo has created a number of relief pieces in the same material that are mounted in frames under glass, an effective and less expensive alternative approach that retains the physical fascination of the other work but lacks the changeability of the full-round pieces (one is shown at left); the show also includes a few acrylics on paper that read more or less as sketches of architectural ideas related to the sculptures.

Take note: Victoria Palermo: RAUM ends on Sunday, Dec. 4. The gallery is open Thursday to Monday from noon to 5 p.m.

Rating: Must See

Also showing in Hudson (through Dec. 11) is a five-woman collection playfully dubbed Hudson River School of Women at Carrie Haddad Gallery. Haddad's annual landscape show has no surprises, but this is a worthy showcase of regular gallery artists who are all very good painters of landscape themes (the tongue-in-cheek title does not announce any real school here).

Jane Bloodgood-Abrams (an untitled piece of hers is shown at right) comes closest to the Hudson River School style, in that she favors mystical skies and sunsets; her larger paintings are rather misty (which may bother others like me who don't see as clearly as they used to), while the smaller ones virtually glow from within.

Juliet Teng works in a style that recalls the great American painter Wolf Kahn; like his, her treed landscapes are recognizable but stretch the boundaries of natural color to interesting places (a piece of hers is shown below). Similarly, Tracy Helgeson sometimes reverses color from sky to ground to trees, but Helgeson's palette is narrower than Teng's, relying largely on neon pinks and reds, where Teng ranges through the whole spectrum.

Perhaps the most intriguing of this group is Laura Von Rosk, whose style over the years remains consistent, but who grows subtly stronger over time (or else I am growing subtly more receptive to her style over time). These small, intensely hued and highly polished works on panel play a little game with viewers, by representing sweet, folk-artish fantasy landscapes in all seasons, but always clearly referencing strong female forms in mounds and V-shapes. Also represented in the show, by just two large, textured paintings of birches, is Susan Stillman.

Rating: Recommended
Pink Trees - oil on canvas by Juliet Teng

Another fine show in Hudson is a retrospective of works on paper by D. Jack Solomon at the Hudson Opera House, a nice public space in the open central foyer of a large performing arts center. I have written at length about Solomon's work here, so these comments will be brief - suffice it to say that this selection of 25 years' production is a very fine representation of the artist's evolving styles.

Comprising samples from several large bodies of work dating from 1986 to 2011, 25 Years in the Hudson Valley - On Paper offers some wonderful surprises even to those of us who already know him, and firmly supports my opinion that Solomon is one of the area's most important painters. The show runs through Dec. 10; the gallery is open daily from noon to 5 p.m.

Rating: Highly Recommended
Restoration - mixed media on paper mounted on wood by D. Jack Solomon

1 comment:

B said...

There's a small but very good photo exhibit on Warren Street right now also. I forget the exact address but it's being called "Pop Up Photography Gallery). They have some Frieldander, Winogrand, Brassai, and other big name documentary prints from a private collection. Absolutely worth a visit, they said it would be up until Christmas.