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‘Small Works’ exhibition a rock solid show

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Wonderful things come in petite formats at the New Mexico Art League Gallery’s “Small Works” exhibition with 138 pieces by more than 40 artists.

The show features a full palette of subjects, styles and media including photography.

The human figure inspired “Profile” and “The Orange Shawl” by Marian Berg whose brushwork and style reminiscent of Leo Neufeld’s portraiture in “Profile” and the Bay Area Figurative School of David Park, Elmer Bischoff and Joan Brown’s marriage of classicism and abstract expressionism in “The Orange Shawl.” Berg is a skillful painter and draftswoman whose work is definitely top drawer.

Linsay Locke wades into the potpourri with “Wayfarers” a contemporary mixture of geometric and organic abstraction with figurative elements. It is at once, satisfyingly spooky, intriguing and mysterious.

On a lighter note Mindy Bradford’s celebratory “Festivity” is a painterly landscape-inspired abstraction with stylistic inspiration from the early 1960s East Coast abstract expressionist period. The roots of her work parallel Larry Rivers’ rebellion against the Hans Hoffman school and early landscape paintings by Maryland’s Eugene Leake.

Longtime landscape master Dennis Liberty who began his career as an abstractionist who can still draw the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire when it comes to the human figure, offers landscape and architecture.

“Ranchos de Taos, Again” by Dennis Liberty is a standout among the thousands of paintings by hundreds of artists depicting New Mexico’s most iconic church.

Liberty’s beautifully rendered “Ranchos de Taos, Again” depicts the perennially painted church by too many artists to count. Liberty’s version is clean, simple and clearly outstanding among the best of the genre. His “Autumn Gust” is a sweet nature-based piece typical of his earlier work prior to his 101 views of the Sandia Mountains series.

Still life examples abound with sophisticated refinement galore in “Tropical Fruit and Ivy” and “A Lemon and Two Limes” by Carolyn Poole who keys her work off classic European compositional and stylistic approaches. She also offers a single bell pepper that demands attention despite its small scale.

Pure aesthetic ambition pushed J Waid Griffin to paint “Still Life with Ginger Bowl” a jaw dropping vase of flowers rendered within a 12 by 9 inch format. Griffin’s equally diminutive “Summer Idyll” beautifully depicts a cottage in a landscape with the same sensitivity to detail as the petals on his flowers.

Still Life with Ginger Bowl” by J Waid Griffin is an aesthetically ambitious undertaking on a diminutive scale.

Bordering on abstraction with abundant spatial layering “From the Attic — Vase #2” by Jenny Pezaro and “Iris for Christmas” by Fred Yost blow out the cobwebs along with the double-ought brushes in a celebration of how loose is too loose?

Pezaro’s densely patterned composition and lusciously powerful hot palette bring a gorgeous strength to her still life. Though abstract and loosely painted it is a carefully designed piece brimming with nuance. Her use of black juxtaposed to the bright red and pink flowers and grass-green leaves creates an exciting tension.

The always-trying-something-new Yost combines line drawing, a bit of color and his own brand of panache in “Iris for Christmas” a red bloom in a truncated vase. It does have its own zany character.

Not to be outdone in architecture Gaye Garrison’s excellent pastel “Abo 3” is an architectonic vignette emphasizing the geometric character of traditional New Mexico architecture. Her point-of-view is reminiscent of work by Harold Joe Waldrum who devoted his career to abstracted architectural details rendered in paint as well as Polaroid photographs.

“Blue Rose” by Colette Chamberlain celebrates the artist’s eye and the communitive power of the pencil.

The show includes some graceful drawings including “Blue Rose” a colored pencil rendering by Collette Chamberlain whose carefully detailed flower celebrates pencil power.

This is a numerically huge exhibition with far too many pieces to mention. Plan to spend some time enjoying a rock-solid show.

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