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Dennis Nahabetian, Ellen Markel, Christina Laing, Bruce Philip Bitmead at Indigo Art Gallery


Indigo Art continues to mount finely choreographed exhibitions of artists whose work interfaces in interesting, unexpected ways. Dwell suggests residence, habitation, inclusion, and the basic need for shelter. But all of these artists work in some aspect of the sacred vessel of the soul.

Dennis Nahabetian’s works are indeed entitled Vessels and present a miniature world of pristine talismanic touchstones. His architectonic forms in painted wire mesh create structures so precise the intervals of grid patterns make each ingenious tectonic pulse, appearing at once gossamer light and yet as rigid as rebar. Allusions to the iconic edifices of Western culture—British Parliament, the Tower of London, the late Twin Towers of the World Trade—all come to mind in Nahabetian’s Lilliputian sculpture garden where small scale is inversely monumental.

Christina Laing’s C-print photography of sensitively observed decrepit interiors, ruined spaces and disused industrial sites bring to mind not so much photography as the works of both the contemporary painter Anselm Keifer and the self-titled “Painter of Light,” Thomas Kinkade, in an unsettling dichotomy. Fine art photographers have come to embrace chemical processes altering the range of tonalities in a subject matter enhancing the color spectrum by manipulating the value, hues, and field of light and dark through computerized applications that give the artwork a decidedly painterly cast. The “ink-jet” phenomenon seems heedless to juggernaut over the lustrous delicacies of tone in the black-and-white photographic works of artists like Ansel Adams, which relied on time of day and painstaking burning and dodging in the dark room.

Since her show at Artspace Buffalo last May, Ellen Markel’s finely crafted assemblages become more definitive in evoking a sense of a layered interior. Her shadow boxes in the manner of the artist Joseph Cornell delineate kinetically interactive articulations of thoughtful fantasy.

Close on the heels of Bruce Philip Bitmead’s show at Betty’s last month are his paintings on view in Dwell, perhaps the single most illustrative of “dwelling” in the literal sense. But Bitmead’s new works signal an increasingly abstracted direction in his depiction of architectural form. In one painting a cropped frame of pure texture barely suggests the solid structure of his previous attentions to “house.” His subject seems to strain to deconstruct, dematerializing doors, windows, load-bearing beams, and rooflines mottled into a surface of densely weighted brush strokes.

As with Nahabetian’s work, small scale builds a greater impact. Dwell runs through October 30.

Upstairs, Indigo Art hosts book signings. All About Buffalo, illustrated by Michael Morgulis from a children’s book by Maria Scrivani, also runs through October 30.

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