Mixed bag: Group show has one standout
The new space for Les Yeux du Monde, now at dot 2 dot, an easy trek from the Downtown Mall, not only admits a large quantity of sunlight, but also includes a fair bit of extra wall space– space which the gallery has taken advantage of with the December exhibit, “Wintergarden.” The exhibit includes the work of an informal group of artists who may not necessarily share aesthetic interests, but who do meet semi-regularly to discuss each other’s work.
They have each been given plenty of wall space to fill, and they all fill it. For reasons of cohesion, space, and laziness, this column will ignore the sculpture, furniture, jewelry, and adjacent exhibits, and stick to the flat canvas-y objects.
Group shows are often difficult to write about because they usually don’t have any sort of unifying theme or aesthetic, but writers need to pretend that they do– usually grasping at some weak or not especially relevant term to avoid the totally un-fun “some good, some bad” generalization.
Like most, this show really doesn’t have a theme, but there is somewhat of a unifying element: Each artist tends to saturate the work with one eye-catching color. It gives an immediate unity and identity to groups of canvases and also helps to draw (a cynic might suggest) the neophyte art shoppers to a work that might, because of abstract elements, otherwise turn them off.
For Susan Crowder, it’s lime green; Karen Shea’s watercolors all come in dusky blues; and Pam Black, the most distinctive of the bunch, really likes her beige. Black also works with a horse theme here, another element that, thanks to its local appeal, probably helps with the eye-pain of modernist expression.
At the risk of generalizing and then totally missing the point, this column will suggest that 1) the law of group shows applies here (some good, some bad) and 2) “Wintergarden” is totally worth visiting for one particular painting, Annie Harris’ “Afternoon Haze–House Next Door.” Harris has her color code as well– a sort of light pink that somehow seems to want to be an earthtone. And that color completely saturates “Afternoon.”
The painting’s erstwhile subject is a country home of a type not unfamiliar to anyone who has spent 10 minutes in Albemarle County, though its outline and detail are only barely suggested in tiny breaks of white. The house is a ghost image, like a subject in a faded photograph. Harris takes this abstract twist on a common representative form almost as far as she can without losing the house completely. Her other work also features the same technique, but not to the same degree. She gets it just right with this one.
Running concurrently with “Wintergarden” is Kelly Powers’ “Works in Print.”
“Wintergarden,” features work by Pam Black, Karen Shea, Susan Bacik, Susan Crowder, Anne Slaughter, and Anne Massie Apperson. Also on display is "Works in Print" by Kelly Powers, and new finds from France at EG Designs. Through January 25. 115 First St. 973-5566.