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One Night Only

"Light Storming the Sea" by Sarah Myers, part of a one-night-only exhibit at Hi-Temp Fabrications in the Cobblestone District.

Sarah Myer's paintings at Hi-Temp Fabrications

A one-evening exhibit of Sarah Myers’ oil paintings and drawings is scheduled for Friday, September 9, at the Hi-Temp Fabrications building, 79 Perry Street, including her most recent and most accomplished paintings, of gingko leaves and branches, and earlier abstract oils in several styles and techniques. Just the drawings were on display for the past month or so at the Partners in Art gallery in North Tonawanda.

Looking at the gingko paintings, Monet comes to mind, impressionism. In terms of the series of paintings of the same or similar subject matter, like the façades of the Rouen Cathedral, like the haystacks, that change—just perceptibly—as the light changes, time passes. You can’t step into the same river twice. The gingko paintings change seasonally.

In terms of the dense array of flecks and dabs of disparate colors that the eye then composes into comprehensible forms. But with a difference from Monet. Not just the dense screen of infinite particles of color, but of infinite forms, infinite gingko leaves, that meld and fuse into an impressionistic solid screen but remain individual leaves. Homer said the generations of men are as the generations of leaves. Dante said the same thing but added, “ad uno ad uno,” one by one. That is, each one counts. Each man, each leaf. Myers is of the Dantean persuasion. Each leaf is discernible, patent.

And in terms of various references to the Japonisme—the mixed assemblage of Asian pictorial and design influences—that so affected the impressionists. For example, in the Zen-reminiscent nature meditation quality of the stark presentation—almost like still lifes—of the gingko branches and leaves. In the recollection of scroll painting—and thus Zen landscape art—in the long and narrow format of the canvases. Among the drawings, there is one gingko work, of a piece with the gingko paintings, but in pencil on an actual scroll (unscrolled) of rice paper.

And in several other explicitly Japonisme pieces among the drawings, including a delicate still life of an arrangement of bamboo stalks, another drawing of cherry blossoms, and a pair of drawings, one of a tea set, another of a hat, in minimalist black ink wash against a white background, a painting style ultimately derived from Chinese calligraphic art.

Among the pre-gingko paintings is a superb palimpsestic calligraphic work, in several layers, iterations, of verbal content in ostensibly different hands, different scripts, partially erased, rubbed out, beyond legibility, but still recognizable as writing.

Other pre-gingko paintings, some of which are very beautiful, are experiments in a variety of basically abstract styles, in some cases edging into figural representation, suggestions of representation. For example, a work called Light Creating, suggesting a seascape or skyscape, in off-white, near-monotone, subtle, serene, quiet but not inert, tonal contrasts, reminiscent of the serene, quiet but not inert, close color contrasts in works of Richard Diebenkorn.

And by way of extreme stylistic contrast, a piece called Blue Square, being actually two blue squares, both in shades close to black, an homage to Ad Reinhardt. And an untitled work in swashbuckling gestures of red/brown on an otherwise blank white canvas. A little bit Franz Kline, a little bit Adolph Gottlieb.

Much imitative work, but in a good way. A way of exploring artistic strategies. For how else is a young artist to go about finding her own proper direction?

Similarly, the drawings are in a wide variety of styles and sensibilities. From somewhat arid art school studies of museum marbles and live models to vibrant nature vignettes (a celebration of a crab apple tree in profligate full bloom). From realistic nature scenes to semi-abstractions in a flurry of more or less uniform ink strokes in varying densities, indicating waves and water. From what look like notebook sketches to the meticulous Japonisme works.

Student work, apprentice work. By way of learning the art trade. How else is an artist to go about finding something all her own, as the gingko works are?

The Hi-Temp Fabricarions building is an industrial building right next to the Sabres arena (across Illinois Street from the Sabres parking ramp). Enter via loading bay No. 2 on Illinois Street.

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