Sandra Paynter Washburn, "Tourmaline"
Final show at the Northshore Gallery of Contemporary Art brims with talent
Surprising as it may sound, a group contemporary art show in Chattanooga seems unprecedented. Works of 17 artists are currently on view at the Northshore Gallery of Contemporary Art. This show, “Curtain Call,” just opened last week, and it will run only until Dec. 20, because of the closing of the gallery.
Originally known as Graffiti, the Northshore Gallery of Contemporary Art has been operating at this location about a year. The original partners, artist David Jones and his wife Laura, have since been joined by artist Jim Tucker and his wife Deb.The fact that both Jones and Tucker are artists likely contributes to the enthusiasm of the artists showing here, not only for the show itself, but for each other as well.
Although a few of these pieces have appeared at various AVA shows previously, most of the artists here present multiple selections so this show consists of quite a number of works. The overall quality of these presentations is simply excellent. Visitors will be rewarded with a memorable experience, and buyers should be enthused at such prospects.
Most of the works are paintings, and the sense of contemporary style sometimes emerges from a kind of technical mysteriousness in that the method of painting is in no way obvious, prompting the question, “How is that done?” At other times, concepts that inform these paintings show a sense of evolution, of complex thoughts that stand realized in fascinating execution. Some works exhibit both of these qualities.
There are also sculptures informed by similar attitudes. Maria Willison, who also works as an assistant to the innovative sculpture and painter Cessna Decosimo, presents an inspired piece called, “Parity” which features a female nude apparently “surfing” on a crescent moon. The conceptual advancement of the human figure remains difficult, but Willison rises to the challenge, and both the depth and playfulness of her concept are complemented by the surface she imparts to this feminine figure. Her other entries, “Graphite Torso” and “Discus (Segment),” not only show an intense faithfulness to the figure itself, but also a commitment to a kind of visual tactility.
Turry Lindstrom’s steel forms often produce a sense of amazement in their dynamic play of symmetry/asymmetry, as well as in their complex realization of balance. Some bright, some dark, Lindstrom’s finishes are monochromatic, calling attention to the values of their formal interplay.
Eddie Graham’s wood vases and a bowl are clearly functional, but the remarkable beauty of wood grains is ironically heightened by their sources. Graham insists that his pieces are produced from abandoned wood, bringing the poignant realization of beauty reclaimed from what may be, and sometimes is, lost.
Among the paintings, Devon Kronenberg’s work emphasizes the illusory quality of painting. The impression taken at a distance may well be transformed on closer examination. There’s a kind of scientific attitude here in that an image may be rendered in different ways, quite remarkably.
Eric Keller’s paintings range in size from large to small. His figures, “Nothing is Hidden That Will Not Be Revealed” and “Transmigration Series #6” seem monumental, the former all red and the latter blacks and off-white, combine a sense of interiority with the exteriority of these figures, sublimely surreal! His landscapes of varying degrees of abstraction show a mysterious paint technique.
“Instant” by Renel Plouffe also combines the external representation of a figure with a sense of dark cityscape that is quite abstracted, resulting in a surreal affect of the complexity of a single moment.
Jake Kelly offers “The Burden We Bear,” an interesting geometric abstract with “paint.” Hard to figure—but engaging.
There are some other remarkable paintings by women. Ellyn Bivin convays moods with great finesse. Her “A Sense of Balance” shows incredible nuances of a precarious moment. Her palette suggests mostly pastels, and her works portray a deep intelligence.
Sandra Painter Washburn’s “Tourmaline” combines paint and collage to extraordinary effects, and her other pieces continue this trend, rich colors and complex thought.
Laura Willet does complex portraiture in an engaging series. Her methods are not obvious. Images of a girl resemble “avatars” dealing with existential dilemmas.
Other interesting painting styles emerge from Josiah Golson, whose “New Wave Love” recalls Goddard’s “Breathless.” “Love Life” combines sensuality with complications.
Alejandro Caraballo's “Vu A Lo Modo” may be a Cubist unicorn’s head, but his painting technique engages a sense of wonder, drawing deep attention.
Strangely amusing assemblages from Ken Hedrin provoke our sense of play. Larry Young’s “Swept Away” engages our sense of abstraction. James McKissic’s works invite us into a dreamlike world.
Jim Tucker’s “End of the Evening” bring us into an inspiring city night, full of mystery. Also check out his drawings. David Jones shows “Blue Horizon,” a richly colorful, abstracted view—a window into art—imagination rules! Enjoy!
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The Northshore Gallery of Contemporary Art, 505 Cherokee Blvd. (423) 400-9797.