Under the influence: Moore lays it on thick

Several small blocks sit stacked beside cigar-box dioramas depicting itty-bitty galleries, complete with tiny paintings, in one corner of Dave Moore’s exhibition, “These Things I Do,” currently on view at The Bridge. Although the squares resemble cross-sections of multicolored sedimentary rock, they are in fact sections of Moore’s past palettes, as thick with built-up layers of paint as Beta Bridge.

The blocks are emblematic of both Moore’s painting style, which incorporates textural dimensions, and the shifts and turns in his focus. Never one to get stuck in a rut, Moore is unafraid to play with fresh ideas, which means his paintings change more conspicuously from show to show than most artists’. But figuratively scratch the surface of his acrylic abstracts, and Moore’s layered influences become visible: the gestural works of Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell; traditional graffiti tagging; comic-book art; and a love of Japanese culture.

Moore spins these influences together, along with an innovative approach to materials, to produce compositions that pulse with the artist’s own distinct energy. Ten of the 15 large single-panel and diptych paintings in the current show express a fascination with the power of the horizontal. For these “stripe paintings,” Moore first layers paint, playing with dripped shapes and a marbling effect he discovered when he couldn’t get colors to blend in cold weather. He then isolates horizontal sections, outlining the contours of select shapes in black, before painting a monochromatic background over the remainder of the work. The contrast of the thick and creamy backgrounds with the horizontal vitality is riveting.

Moving in a different direction, Moore also experiments with multicolored raised dots in four other paintings, scattering them over shapes and wide brushstrokes in a series entitled, “Monument to 20th Century Painting.” He points to Motherwell’s “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” as his inspiration for these paintings, but his direction is satisfyingly original.

Besides Moore’s paintings, the show features the aforementioned cigar-box galleries, as well as numerous small architectural sculptures. Using pinecones, cut paper, and bits of cardboard and wood, Moore has constructed miniature Japanese-style houses, with tiny gardens and ponds. Also pinned around the gallery are pages from Moore’s ongoing mixed-media project, “The Catalog Editor’s Suite,” in which he combines early 20th-century Sears Roebuck cutouts with text and paint to make political comments.

Moore’s pleasure in art and artmaking is palpable. Happily, his multilayered adventures in making produce multilayered pleasures in viewing.
Dave Moore’s exhibition, “These Things I Do,” is on view through the end of March at The Bridge, 209 Monticello Road. 984-5669.

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