Tension, balance and emotions - Albuquerque Journal

Tension, balance and emotions

“Reminder: modified; sphere,” 2021, by Sammy Peters, oil and mixed media on canvas, 48×48. (Courtesy of LewAllen Galleries)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The dueling abstractions of Sharon Booma and Sammy Peters reveal the deeper instincts of their nature.

“Worlds Within,” a two-person exhibition of mixed-media paintings at Santa Fe’s LewAllen Galleries, explores their work through Oct. 30. While both artists hint at allusions to the physical world, they center their work in tension, balance and emotion.

Based in northeastern Florida, Booma fell in love with abstraction during a college still life class. She began painting the set scene realistically, then took the work home for winter break with radical alteration.

“When I came back, they professor said, ‘Who did this?’ I thought he was going to yell, but he was really pleased,” Booma said in a telephone interview.

“I wanted to explore more than was right in front of me.”

Booma taught herself to draw when she was 7 years old and has been working in abstraction ever since.

“What happens on the canvas is unpredictable and surprising,” she said. “The surprise is what makes it very stimulating and exciting to me.”

Booma paints directly onto the canvas. To create her current work, she mixed oil paint with cold wax in layers on board.

“Eventually, you can etch through and uncover the first surface,” she said. “It’s very exciting.

“You discover the history of the painting when you scrape away,” she continued. “You have to be willing to take that unknown path.”

Booma considers herself somewhat of a voyeur. She discovers pure forms and colors around her in nature, hummingbirds, even the Boston docks. She cites the great colorist Henri Matisse as a “supreme” influence, as well as Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell and Cy Twombly.

“Many of the pieces are very meditative,” Booma said. “It’s a reflection of my meditative state and my experience with color. Most of the work grows from the canvas.”

Peters’ web page reads “Painting…always painting.” Using a complex interplay of expressive brushwork, sweeping gestural marks, drips and collage, he creates painterly geometric shapes in jazzy rhythms. Critics have compared him to the lyrical abstraction of Richard Diebenkorn and Phillip Guston. As a child in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1950s, Peters was encouraged by his father, who owned a sign-painting business and painted portraits for the neighbors.

“The family could throw crayons and a piece of paper at me, and keep me busy for hours,” he said in a telephone interview from Little Rock.

Today, he says, “It’s something that, if I don’t do, I’m not as good a friend or husband. It sort of keeps me grounded.”

At first, he was shocked when he discovered the paintings of the Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Then, he revelled in their muscular bravado. He thought of moving to New York, but the family sign company beckoned as a free studio.

Peters’ work combines cold wax with collage in an animated cadence of shapes and lines.

“I like to see the marks and struggles of a painting as they come into fruition,” he said.

His is a subtle use of collage with paper and fabric, adhered by the cold wax. “Reminder modified sphere,” 2021, features a piece of his granddaughter’s polka dot Sunday school dress in the left corner. People often stop by his studio on the way to Good Will to show him old clothing before it’s recycled.

Most people don’t even notice the fabric swatches, he says. He avoids symbolism and any hint of representationalism.

“It’s the way I see nature,” Peters said. “Humans try to make these perfect rectangles. Sidewalks are perfect, then, years later, trees start breaking through and, eventually, Nature fights back all the things we build. It’s beautiful to me.”

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