ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When 14 emerging and established female Albuquerque artists started to meet for coffee and art talk it evolved into them having an eye-popping show together.
The “S(and): An Introduction” multi-media installation curated by Jessica Veit at Exhibit 208 is the beautiful result of those caffeine-ingestion sessions.
When male artists gather to talk art they either end up discussing the news or arguing over the relative merits of one brand of grinder or pickup truck over another. On the other hand, female artists tend to talk about materials, techniques and expressive content, in other words they actually talk about art.
“S(and): An Introduction” is a materials and techniques extravaganza revealing a high level of sensitivity, skill and content.
Sally Condon’s mixed-media paintings are perennial favorites of mine. Her work is beautifully executed in a pulse racing palette of pastel tones acting as transitional veils between formal structure, atmospheric space and bold dense solid color accents.
In works like “Meeting and Passing” and “Stacking Tens” Condon creates vibratory rhythms between drawn lines, painted organic or geometric forms and her gorgeously sensual Easter egg-dye colored backgrounds.
Another master colorist is Cedra Wood, who can paint the rubber off the tire and the bird off the wire to quote Bob Dylan. She is a realist expressing an enigmatic surrealistic narrative.
In “Plume” two women converse in the foreground while a man feeds a bonfire on the lower left. Though in a living landscape rendered in natural color the scene has an overall foreboding quality. Wood accomplishes her communication of impending chaos with a disarming soft-edge technique that has the tactile quality of a textile.
Her work is reminiscent of being in a burning building and discovering that the exits are locked from the outside.
The late art maven Jonathan Abrams once described painter Dana Kleinman’s work as maximal minimalism. For several years now Dana Kleinman and her sister Ruth Kleinman have worked as a team to produce a combination of painting and sculpture that embodies what Abrams was talking about.
In “Wayfarers” and “Pink Moon” the Kleinmans have successfully applied craft and philosophy to create two of the three sculptures in the show.
Their “Wayfarers” two-piece geometric painted aluminum construction was inspired by monoliths and megaliths one might find in ancient Britain along an abandoned Roman road or as part of a Celtic shrine, or closer to home as a natural feature of a place like Cathedral Canyon.
My only beef with “Wayfarers” is that the presentation is too far below eye level to appreciate the monumentality of the design.
“Pink Moon,” with its twin opposing crescents revealing a mottled lunar landscape, is a fine example of careful execution, proper presentation and final finish. While too many siblings waste their energies in pointless competition the Kleinman sisters are producing high-quality artwork.
A parallel team of art producing siblings Rob and Christian Clayton can be found at the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum working in the pop surrealist (low-brow) movement. Their work is not in the show.
Shawn Turung and Rachel Popowcer share the west wall together while revealing their strengths and differences.
Turung, who is well regarded as an abstractionist, surprised this viewer with the gorgeously executed “Vessel,” a porcelain female figurative sculpture that morphs into an arm and hand. The figure’s thighs are embellished with Mimbres pottery inspired geometric black on white tattoos while the hollow at the throat is festooned with a flower.
It’s a fine piece of surrealism with dada overtones. Turung’s two other works should offer plenty of gaga for lovers of layered abstraction.
Popowcer continues to produce her signature well-rendered lyrical abstractions with “Circulation no. 2” and “Fly by Night,” both of which radiate warmth and joyful creativity. She’s the only artist I know who can use so much red without losing her subtlety of design.
Well I’ve run out of space not even part way through the best of the show. Truthfully it’s all good. Don’t miss this one.