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Highlights from the Big Orbit Members Show
by Jack Foran
Some beautiful artworks and some to puzzle over at the Big Orbit Members Show. Some in both categories. Like David Mitchell’s taxidermied complete doe, overlain with a sheet of translucent plastic, like an impromptu raincoat. Or Jan Nagle’s triptych video of waters washing gently up on a beach, while somebody—we only get to see his or her hands and bare feet—marks or writes illegibly in the sand with a stick. Marks or writings that are immediately washed away by the next gentle wavelet. Or arranges and rearranges a few pebbles on the sand, that are then immediately washed over and rearranged by nature. Possible references to Albert Einstein or John Cage. Chance, mutability, mortality.
Plus some beautiful more traditional media works. Liz Haney’s double-canvas painting in an Anselm Kieffer mode—expressionist depiction of wind-blown grasses and flowers in thick application oils—entitled Elegy. About death, but with an emphasis on what survives death, or seems to. Right above the Haney painting is one by Valerie Kasinki with a somewhat similar look and feel. Entitled Turbulence. Entirely of waves, a canvas full of whitecaps. And to the right, one of Sarah M. Zak’s fabric factory ghost image paintings, with the enigmatic title and it is the thread that winds, seldom dominant.
Among the floor sculptural works—in addition to the complete doe—is a huge broken-off tree limb that on first glance looks whitewashed, but then it turns out has been wheat-pasted and office-papered-over by Max Collins, who has a thing for wheat paste and paper. Another floor sculpture consists of sticks and what look like chalk or concrete little slug cylinders arranged in a radiating circle, by Frank O’Connor. A bit reminiscent of a campfire. Or some shamanist proceedings. Anyway, primitivist in look and feel.
Artist Rich Tomasello, who makes social/political satire toys—toy versions of the lethal weapons the gun lobby and its minions have managed to enshrine a fairly absolute right to own and use as a basic principle of the American way—and nothing does more for the sales figures bottom line of the gun manufacturer mainstay supporters of the lobby than a good school shooting—has left the toy business for the moment, but not the social/political commentary business. His piece in the show is a wall sculpture consisting of emergency breathing apparatus—gas masks and the kind of flexible tubing that would connect to a clean air source—painted black, entitled Breathe (I Can’t).
Ciarán Ó Conhúir has a color blocks graphic work overlaid with lengthy text disquisition on Cartesian geometry in relation to aesthetics and occasionally athletics—sometimes it’s about Picasso, Cezanne, and Monet, sometimes about Mantle and Mays—but in any case, exceeding amount of verbiage. Right above it, a work by Catherine Schuman Miller that deals with roughly the same aesthetic problem—about the painting as a grid—and solves the problem nicely, without words.
Joseph Bochynski’s entry is also about grids. Two similar but different wall-hanging mountings—like pictures—of kitchen or bathroom square ceramic tiles in grout cement. But off-kilter—off vertical, off horizontal—relative to the overall or frame rectangles. Pink tiles in both cases, but of slightly different shades, and in the one case clean and spiffy, the other spattered with black ink or paint. And opposite orientations off-kilter, like mirror images. Except not quite mirror-image opposite orientations. In addition to the slightly different shades of pink. And ink or paint spatter in the one case but not the other.
Nancy Parisi has a notebook sketchwork drawing streetscape medley of roadway overpass/underpass, embankment untended grass, chain-link fence, and sidewalk. Right above it, Mark Snyder’s careful technical drawing cutaway view of a car engine. To the right, Ryan Mis’ pencil drawing of Tyrannosauraus Rex carrying off a smaller dinosaur for dinner, and Billy Higgins’ goat facial portrait amid whirling black clouds. To the left, a Kathleen Sherin one part representational, two parts abstract, yarn or twine tangle piece.
And Tom Webb a comical depiction of a guy in Charon’s boat, leaning out, in the act of dropping a bottle into the water, entitled One Last Message. (I thought at first he was reaching for the bottle. I thought the idea was more like one last drink.)
The members show continues until February 22.
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