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A variety of new works on display at Buffalo Arts Studio

"Ripple Effect" by Barbara Murak

Mixed bag

Barbara Murak’s labor-intensive-looking fiber art creations in the current Buffalo Arts Studio three-artist show evoke references from Elizabethan court life to invertebrate undersea plant and animal life. Primitive but spectacular forms. Sea anemones, corals. Delicate, complex, uncanny.

Knitted works for the most part. Or otherwise fabricated, as in a ropy construction of dark reddish wool fiber balls tied with black string into a lengthy chain sequence, the chain sequence then into a nondescript agglomeration, agglutination, entitled Platelet Count. Other non-knitted works—and the only two-dimensional works in the display—include three wall-hanging sheet constructions of ostensibly haphazard arrays of varying densities of deep red and blue scraps of material stitched together by machine. All other works are three-dimensional—technically sculptures—though of such untraditional for sculpture materials and fabrication, you tend to see them more in terms of what they are—whatever they are—than what they represent as artworks, as mimesis.

The knitted works feature undulative parallel rows of organic tissue-like structures. Gill structures, coral structures. In bright to subdued to possibly camouflage colors and patterns. One of the works—in a rather overelaborate play on words in the title—plays on the idea and image of a ruff, the rather overelaborate, undulative lace collar Elizabethan courtiers wore, at least in some of their portraits. (It’s hard to conceive they wore such contraptions at mealtimes.)

One hesitates to employ in writing the much overused and generally misused word unique. But Murak’s work tempts use of precisely that descriptive.

Katharine Gaudy’s works in the show have a playfully experimental look and feel, the playfulness underscored by her listed asking price for each item: “2% of income.” (She doesn’t specify whose income. Presumably the prospective buyer’s.)

Wall hangings and sculptures of disparate materials including wood and cloth and paint and prominently cement. One of the sculptures consists of a man’s business suit—gray, pinstripes, plus accessories—neatly folded and enclosed between and fixed into two large rectangular blocks of concrete. How was that even done, as much of a question as what it might be all about. Another sculptural piece is a translucent hard plastic barricade-type structure, roughly corrugated vertically, and buckled horizontally across the middle, as if during partial collapse of the object during the plastic hardening process. And finally strewn with a gravelly matter, some of which is embedded in the plastic, some of which seems to lie loose on occasional horizontal surfaces.

In a painting in cement, latex, and enamel, a basic grid of neat and tidy horizontal and vertical strips reads naturally—rationally, as it were—right to left, in the direction of progressive wavering disintegration of the regular grid. Maybe this is reading in the wrong direction. In light of the artist’s basic technique—the process of solidifying with cement—maybe the proper reading direction is left to right, from liquid state to solid, set, stable.

"The Ride of the Ice Cream Fairy" by Jessica Warner

Jessica Warner’s work consists of doodle abstract drawings and paintings in candy colors. Forms based on more or less regular geometrics—circles and rectangles—that promptly irregularize in the push and shove of apparent rapid multiplication up and down and across the page or canvas. Work that seems as much or more about the liberationist production process—akin to surrealist phenomenon automatic drawing—as the pretty but ephemeral imagery. Colorful soap bubbles, determinedly uncerebral, unstudied. Some of the titles reference Yeatsian mystical millenialist imaginings. The center cannot hold. Things fall apart.

The Murak/Gaudy/Warner exhibit continues through November 8.

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