The Won­der Sa­lon, Linda Durham Con­tem­po­rary Art, 1807 Sec­ond St., Suite 107, 466-6600; through Jan. 4, 2010

Pasatiempo - - Art In Review -

Avoid­ing all ref­er­ences to Won­der Woman, the D.C. Comics su­per­hero, for an exhibit of work by 11 women called The Won­der Sa­lon will be tough, es­pe­cially since the fig­ure ofWon­derWo­man is tied to pub­lic­ity put out by Linda Durham Con­tem­po­rary Art, site of the show. The gen­e­sis of the ex­hi­bi­tion came through Durham’s in­vi­ta­tion-only sa­lon where artists Lynda Braun, Ma­rina Brown­low, Rachel Dar­nell, Anne Far­rell, Shaun Gilmore, Son­dra Good­win, Bar­bara In­gram, Jen­nifer Joseph, Joanne Le­frak, Pa­tri­cia Pearce, and Danielle Shel­ley met pe­ri­od­i­cally to dis­cuss is­sues in­volv­ing women and art. So it’s not sur­pris­ing that an ex­hi­bi­tion of their work caps off the end of Durham’s evening get-to­geth­ers.

Won­der Sa­lon is a hodge­podge of art­work that re­flects the dif­fer­ent aes­thet­ics of the in­di­vid­ual artists. So don’t ex­pect to find a gen­eral theme. And like a show of this ilk, some of the work is en­gag­ing on a va­ri­ety of lev­els — vis­ually, emo­tion­ally, and in­tel­lec­tu­ally— while oth­ers strug­gle for at­ten­tion. In all of 37 pieces— a num­ber that sounds like a lot, but it re­ally isn’t for this show — some are ex­cep­tional.

Le­frak con­tin­ues to be one of the most creative artists in New Mex­ico, if not the re­gion. Her sin­gle con­tri­bu­tion to the exhibit is a vertical piece of Plex­i­glas into which she etched an im­age ti­tled Trin­ity Site. Le­frak’s sur­face scratch­ing, how­ever, is nearly in­vis­i­ble, but the shadow cast on the wall from the etched draw­ing dis­plays a detailed land­scape in sub­tle tones of gray that, at a glance, looks pho­to­graphic. The scene is a desert ter­rain com­posed of a fenced-in re­stricted zone; be­yond is a low moun­tain range. The ti­tle in­fuses the im­age with mean­ing, but even without the no­to­ri­ous ref­er­ence, Le­frak’s con­cept is mes­mer­iz­ing. The ethe­real na­ture of her piece is like the se­cret goings-on at the bomb site— ac­tiv­i­ties you hear about, but never see. And what’s fas­ci­nat­ing is that the closer you stand in front of Le­frak’s work— in hopes of see­ing some­thing more crit­i­cal in the artist’s ren­der­ing— the more your own shadow oblit­er­ates parts of her draw­ing, which is a thought-pro­vok­ing cir­cum­stance.

Two totemic wall as­sem­blages— Spirit of the Find and The Col­lec­tion— by Pearce have el­e­ments in com­mon with work by the late Amer­i­can sculp­tor Louise Nevel­son, as well as work by the re­cently de­ceased Taos artist Melissa Zink. Her neatly organized rec­tan­gu­lar re­lief sculp­tures con­sist of sec­tions of an­tique gilt frames jux­ta­posed with frag­ments of book bind­ings, var­i­ous wood mold­ing, and ob­jets d’art, such as a gold-painted fig­urine, bone-made domi­noes, and a block of ivory with a coastal scene done in scrimshaw. Pearce’s con­structs feel more Vic­to­rian than con­tem­po­rary. Like a cou­ple of ex­cla­ma­tion points on the wall, th­ese highly com­part­men­tal­ized pieces stand out in rather re­gal fash­ion amid the other work in the exhibit. And Pearce’s closely de­ter­mined color scheme of gold and low-key tonal­i­ties makes for an un­der­stated dy­namic that left me want­ing to see at least a cou­ple of more in the se­ries.

Four black-and-white platinum/pal­la­dium pho­to­graphs by Good­win de­pict a nude woman in var­i­ous non­sen­si­cal poses amid mun­dane props. Taken sep­a­rately, they’re ac­tu­ally quite silly. But con­sid­ered col­lec­tively, the al­le­gor­i­cal nar­ra­tive of The Van­ity Project holds sig­nif­i­cant mean­ing. In­di­vid­u­ally sub­ti­tled as Shield, Ob­sta­cle Course, Bal­ance, and Saw, Good­win’s im­ages al­lude to the many hoops women have to jump through to sus­tain their pub­lic per­sona in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety, a so­ci­ety too of­ten in­flu­enced by the fash­ion in­dus­try. And Good­win makes clear that daily main­te­nance can be per­ilous. With body paint re­sem­bling sheer hosiery and arm-length gloves, the lone poseur — who is Good­win — is staged in sit­u­a­tions that sym­bol­ize un­com­fort­able predica­ments. In one, Good­win holds in front of her­self a large round shield that masks her face and up­per torso. In an­other, we see her in pro­file kneel­ing pre­car­i­ously on an oil drum with arms stretched out in front of her. And in the most in­trigu­ing photo, the artist is seated on the floor with her back to us with legs spread apart, hold­ing the ends of a long, arc­ing saw blade that rests on her head with a sec­ond saw blade bal­anc­ing atop the other.

Into the Thicket, an in­stal­la­tion piece by Far­rell, con­sists of three video mon­i­tors stacked ver­ti­cally with minia­ture makeshift trees placed around them. The top mon­i­tor dis­plays a tree branch blow­ing in the wind high­lighted by gar­ish hues of pink and green. The bot­tom mon­i­tor de­picts over­laid im­ages of trees sway­ing in the breeze with a cen­tral hor­i­zon­tal branch oc­cu­pied by two mourn­ing doves. The mid­dle screen streams a close-up of a young woman seem­ingly by her­self in a wooded area, while the only au­dio is the sound of wind blow­ing through trees. The per­sona of the woman changes from a state of calm to height­ened alert­ness to fore­bod­ing as she be­gins to look back and forth, leav­ing us to imag­ine what might be caus­ing her anx­i­ety.

The woman-in-dis­tress syn­drome is for­mu­laic, seen in so many films that date back to the si­lent era. But Far­rell’s techno-based take on the sub­ject works to great ef­fect. The di­chotomy of the sooth­ing sounds of rustling leaves and the whimsy of the Lil­liputian trees with the de­vel­op­ing stress seen in the woman’s eyes and fa­cial ex­pres­sions re­sults in a shared mo­ment of un­know­ing and fear within the viewer. This is heady stuff for such a bare-bones in­stal­la­tion.

Other pieces in the show are not quite so dis­turb­ing but still con­vey artis­tic ex­plo­rations of note. For­mal­ism, ab­strac­tion, photo-based com­puter ma­nip­u­la­tion, and de­sign the­ory are there for your con­sid­er­a­tion. Durham’s Won­der Sa­lon, I trust, will not be a one-time won­der as it’s worth re­peat­ing with a new cast of char­ac­ters.

Joanne Le­frak: Trin­ity Site, 2009, scatched Plex­i­glas, archival ink, and shadow, 34 x 26 inches

Pa­tri­cia Pearce: Spirit of the Find, left, 62 x 16 x 4.75 inches, and The Col­lec­tion, 64 x 16 x 5.5 inches, both 2009, mixed-me­dia as­sem­blages

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.