Tag (You’re It!) @ 13Forest

Text Written By Elana Willinsky

 

The 13Forest Gallery may be a small space but it has big things going on with the Tag (You’re It!) project. The gallery is currently exhibiting the work of ten artists as part of this art tag experiment. Starting in 2012, the gallery exhibited a collection with contributions from ten artists who then each picked a fellow artist to show their work and so on. Now, the project has been resurrected and artists with displayed work have chosen their replacements whose work will be up in mid-July.

 

It was delightful to see such a variation of work sharing a space, complementing and accentuating one another. For instance, Deb Hickey’s Jesus Tree, a dramatic photo transfer of an enormous cactus in a backyard, was situated next to Jodi Colella’s sculpture series Imposters consisting of enlarged household tools made from felted wool. The two created a fascinating sense of warped domestic life that I don’t think would have existed in a solo exhibition. The art ranges in styles, themes, and medium. Many of the artists are local and their love for the community is reflected in some of the pieces. Stacey Durand’s Milton and Lake Streets features a sign naming Arlington, the town where 13Forest is located. Other works include robot sculptures made from repurposed material, letterpress reflecting prints, simple ink drawings, and 3D collage. The beauty of having so many artists displayed is an assurance that anyone can find something that they appreciate and connect with.

 

The Tag (You’re It!) project fosters camaraderie and communication within the artistic community. It also makes work accessible to the greater community by having a cluster exhibit right on the main stretch of Arlington. Catch the current artists before the game changes, but remember a game of tag never ends and the art is always waiting to be sought out!

 

GET THERE:  77 Bus toward Arlington Heights, Mass Ave opposite Lake St stop

SEE IT:  Current artists on view through early July. Project runs until September 12, 2014

MORE INFO:   http://13forest.com/index.shtml

Spherical Harmonics @ Boston Sculptors Gallery

Text Written By Maria Napolitano

 

Kim Bernard’s exhibition at the Boston Sculptor’s Gallery, Spherical Harmonics, is a simple ode to the beauty inherent in science. Each of her six wall-mounted pieces is a literal representation of the atomic orbitals of a hydrogen atom: the shapes that graph the probabilities of where an electron might be found at any moment depending on the current state of the atom. These configurations show beautiful symmetries and fluid shapes, and in this essentially two-dimensional form, deceptive simplicity. The shapes of the orbitals on the walls of the gallery are formed by hundreds of tiny red and black clay balls arranged in patterns of varying density, pinned in a tangible sort of pointillism. Each individual ceramic ball casts several shadows upon the sparse white wall deepening the piece’s reach, and hearkening back to the elliptical shapes present in scientific graphs of electron orbitals.

 

Bernard based her art off of three-dimensional probability graphs informed by quantum mechanics and the behavior of subatomic particles discovered by a fortuitous Google search. Bernard’s stumble across the quantum behavior that spawned Spherical Harmonics has an important corollary: as she was not well versed in quantum mechanics the concept of atomic orbitals is also not a familiar one to many of her viewers. While high school chemistry classes may touch on the subject, it is not heavily taught, and is a relatively new addition to the scientific canon. To a viewer who has no background in science Bernard’s installation is no less balanced or intriguing but those who are familiar with the three-dimensional representations of the orbitals may find her interpretations all the more curious. In fact, the foreign nature of Bernard’s inspiration to members of the artistic community mirrors the distance a scientist may feel from art installations in the abstract.

 

The walls of the gallery are lined with Hydrogen Atomic Orbitals 1 – 6 but Bernard also spins away from the concept of orbitals with Wave Line, suspended in the center of the room. Wave Line consists of 100 steel balls hanging in a row, similar to a Newton’s Cradle, the common physics-based trinket. This sculpture is meant to be played with; Wave Line begs to be touched, swung from side to side, sending ripples down its length. Though it too is composed of spherical pieces, unlike the wall-mounted art, Wave Line is interactive and full of energy. It also evokes scientific principles: the wave-particle duality of light in particular comes to mind. Put simply, this concept paradoxically states that light acts both as a particle that we casually know as the photon, or as a wave, familiar as a beam of energy. Again, Bernard winks at weighty scientific tenets, but her art should be no less accessible without any background in the field. Spherical Harmonics breaks down barriers between art and science drawing together viewers at the intersection of seemingly disparate disciplines. The simplicity of Wave Line and the Hydrogen Atomic Orbitals Series is refreshing in both form and content: an effortless collection of miniscule concepts made tangible and larger-than-life bringing concepts that might seem sterile or removed from the art world into the literal reach of visitors to the Boston Sculptor’s Gallery.

 

GET THERE:  Red Line to Broadway.

SEE IT: On view through June 22nd.

MORE INFO:   http://www.bostonsculptors.com

Our Beginnings: Edmund C. Tarbell @ The Guild of Boston Artists

Text Written By Rachel Parker

 

To celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the Guild of Boston Artists the Guild is showing an interesting historical show of work by Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1932), whom is most famously known as the leader of the Boston School of painters. The Boston School is characterized by color realism and an attention to space and atmosphere, which sought to move beyond American Impressionism. The Guild has been at its location on Newbury Street since it was founded in 1914 by Tarbell and Frank Benson. It was founded to be an artists’ collective, which upheld the tradition of the 17th century Dutch guilds.

 

The Tarbell show is in the back room of the Guild; a beautiful sunny room with a huge skylight as its ceiling. Three walls are taken up by Tarbell’s work mostly provided by the Tarbell Charitable Trust. The third wall is hung with current Guild members’ work. Each painting by a member of the Guild is accompanied by a card ,which explains how they are connected to Tarbell. Each artist exhibited can be tied through their teacher and their teacher’s teachers to Tarbell. It’s quite interesting to compare the modern day Boston School paintings with one of the founders of the movement in the same room.

 

Tarbell attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and later taught there. His paintings can be seen in the Museum of Fine Arts. However, the works at the Guild are really exquisite examples of Tarbell’s best paintings. Three large portraits dominate the space. Mary, Edmund and Sergius (1920) is a very charming portrait of a couple and their Brittany spaniel. The dog, no doubt Sergius, is resting his head on the leg of Mary making for a really warm, sympathetic portrait of the family. The background, an amorphous tan and brown floral pattern, presumably wallpaper, makes the scene slightly ethereal. The bright highlights of blue in Mary’s hat and skirt fill out the composition of colors with mastery. The portrait of Mrs. Jonathan Sawyer is another example of Tarbell’s sensitivity in composition. It is also, unsurprisingly, masterfully crafted with delicate details such as the black lace of her shawl.

 

There is one Tarbell work for sale; a print of a charcoal drawing. The original is also shown next to the print. The print in its framed state is $350, and $165 without the frame. The Guild is holding a number of events throughout the year to celebrate their 100th year anniversary including a 100th year anniversary exhibition and gala in November.

 

GET THERE:  Take the Green Line to Copley.

SEE IT: On view through July 26th.

MORE INFO:   http://guildofbostonartists.org

Joanne Desmond @ Harvard Allston Education Portal

 

Text Written By Elana Willinsky

 

Joanne Desmond’s haunting mixed media installation is unflinching as it dismantles childhood emotions and experiences. Desmond examines her memories and dreams using entirely repurposed materials including paper bags, cheesecloth, wax, wire, beads and eggshells to create an array of potently emotional pieces. Immediately, I was struck by the simple beauty of her work and how it reminded me of the beauty of old photographs. Though simple in its aesthetic, the work has complicated emotional resonance. The most prominent piece, borne from the lingering sensations of a realistic dream, features four hanging dresses. All but one are beige or white, sheer, and virginal, decorated with paper flowers. The fourth is black, and underneath in unmistakable recollection of a funeral, are scattered dried flowers. On the floor, surrounded by the dresses is a cascade of broken eggshells, a pair of slippers, and smaller doll’s dresses arranged in carriages.

 

As can be found throughout the exhibit, the slippers are covered by repetitive phrases of confusion, anxiety, fear and wavering self-affirmation written in the artist’s own hand. While this piece quite obviously references the phrase “walking on eggshells” a deeper look reveals a child’s simple-minded confusion, the erosion of things grown older, and the slightly eerie quality of dresses hanging empty and shoes left by the eggshells with no one to wear them. Desmond generally works in mild colors, vaguely sepia-toned, which adds the exuding aura of walking through a discovered antique diary to the exhibit.

 

This installation is taking on the liminal space of memory and dream and giving it tangibility. Though working from an adult perspective the art fluidly reaches into the artist’s past and into seemingly heart-rending moments to pull snapshots of her memory. The pieces are woven together as intricately as these memories with as many layers and imperfections. As the title of the installation says, looks can be deceiving and so this works prompts a viewer to take a close look at the artwork, and at themselves, where they are now and how they got there.

 

ADDED BONUS: Unbound Visual Arts as part of The Harvard Allston Education Portal is also currently exhibiting a wonderful photography exhibit by Susan Johnson titled Water Water Everywhere. It’s covering over 75% of our planet and Johnson is doing important work to ensure we don’t forget its importance and beauty. See two amazing exhibits in one trip!

 

GET THERE:  66 Bus to 175 North Harvard Street, 86 Bus to 175 North Harvard Street

SEE IT: On view through August 28th.

MORE INFO:   https://sites.google.com/a/unboundvisualarts.org/uva-website/

 

Christopher Chippendale @ Soprafina Gallery

 

Text Written By Maria Napolitano

 

“In a sense my paintings have always been about time, whether as indirect reflections on the fleeting nature of experience expressed in changing light, or as attempts to gather into one frame the rich and variable dimensions of experience itself,” Christopher Chippendale muses. He introduces his current exhibition at Soprafina Gallery, Pausing en Route: Aspects of Moment and Duration, with a concise and powerful statement that outlines his endeavor to address the ceaseless passage of time and the impossibility of conveying vibrant truth through a static painting. Chippendale writes and paints about this theme attempting to create a true impression of reality while remaining well aware that there is an inherent and unavoidable divide between his subject matter and his work. No matter how carefully he imitates the world around him there will be “a gap in time, a gap reflecting the absurdity of trying to make an ‘instantaneous’ painting,” that sets his work apart from reality. In this light, how can what he paints be true? No painter can perfectly replicate the world’s many facets in a two-dimensional work. Chippendale explicitly acknowledges in his statement the inherent inadequacy his medium shows towards capturing the passage of time especially as marked by changes in lighting and perspective.

 

When viewed with his statement in mind Chippendale’s paintings cohere and collectively attend to the many permutations sunlight can take when pouring over landscapes. His subject matter ranges from rural to urban, and the setting fluctuates from overcast to bright but his approach remains consistent. Eschewing realism for the mere suggestion of reality, Chippendale’s paintings appear spontaneous and fluid, a close likeness of the ephemeral moments he chases. Working in his favor is the familiarity of the images: some, like “Pickering Cove” and “A View from Above” are archetypal pastoral scenes, but others, like “Dartmouth Street in the Rain,” “View of Boston from North Point Park and Boston,” and “The Charles” are specific images that draw on the memories of many viewers here in Boston, which supplements Chippendale’s images with that viewer’s personal experience. He does not fight to copy reality’s every detail. Instead he allows the viewer to connect the few explicitly illustrated features of his work and fill in the gaps through memory or imagination.

 

Chippendale’s calm palette and wide brushwork lends a dream-like quality to his works, which is another concession to the impossibility of a perfectly real painting. Instead of trying and failing to build an exact reproduction of a scene he creates a graceful rendition that does not mire itself down in detail. His work is accurate outside of specifics. Chippendale concedes that no moment can be faultlessly reproduced, which frees him to explore other methods of creating a “true” image through which his viewer can approach a moment already past.

 

GET THERE: Red-line to Harvard square, 72 Bus to 358 Huron Ave or walk down Brattle Street, turn right on Fayerweather Street and then a left onto Huron Ave.

SEE IT: On view through May 31st.

MORE INFO:   http://soprafina.com

TO READ CHIPPENDALE’S ARTIST STATEMENT:  http://www.soprafina.com/press/chippendale_statement_may_2014.pdf

 

Translucent Explorations @ Mobilia Gallery

Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery

 

Text Written By Rachel Parker

 

Mariko Kusumoto’s Translucent Explorations at Mobilia Gallery exhibits the joyful product of an artist that truly loves her craft. Kusumoto has worked previously in metal. Her metal boxes, a la Joseph Cornell, are a surrealist’s wonderland with a high degree of skill and intricacy. Her recent interest in fabric arts stems from a book on tsumami zaiku, a traditional Japanese fabric technique where silk squares are folded to make floral designs and used as hair ornaments when wearing kimono. Frustrated with a lack of available information on pleating techniques, Kusumoto experimented and came up with her own techniques. Her fabric bracelets, earrings, brooches and necklaces have the same master craftsmanship, intricacy, and playfulness as her metal work. However, the new material lends a translucency to the new work, which allows for overlapping colors and textures.

 

I narrowly missed speaking to Kusumoto in person when I visited the gallery on Saturday. However, I felt very much as though she was speaking to me through her work. The amount of time and care poured into each piece is stunning. There are a number of familiar forms, flowers, and bouquets executed with precision, delicacy and with attention to color. In among the floral pins are underwater forms and alien forms, which resemble flowers but seem otherworldly. A number of pieces take the form of pleated fabric bubbles with fabric stones or pistil and stamen inside of them; the translucent fabric allowing us to see through to a hidden internal world. As explained to me, these pleated bubbles were made by shaping and then baking the fabric. The striations in color were created by draping pieces of thread over the fabric to preserve the color, which changes in high heat. The pieces are all wearable.

 

One brooch stood out to me. It is part of a collection of brooches made out of fabric rectangles which resemble gem-like stones clustered together. You can see Kusumoto’s metal smith background flawlessly incorporated into this new medium particularly in one example where the fabric stones cluster around a small piece of rectangular metal stamped with a grasshopper. The metal does not overwhelm the feathery quality of the fabric, rather the delicately stamped grasshopper alleviates the weight of the metal marrying the two mediums together.

 

Mobilia Gallery is a small and very friendly gallery with a wide variety of things to buy from jewelry to ornamental pieces. It is about a twenty minute walk from the Harvard Square stop on the Red-line. From the Red-line you could take a bus but if the day is nice I suggest walking. The walk takes you down Brattle Street, one of Cambridge’s most beautiful neighborhoods. The houses (many historical) and gardens are really incredible and will prepare you for the natural beauty of Kusumoto’s work.

 

GET THERE: Red-line to Harvard square, 72 Bus to 358 Huron Ave or walk down Brattle Street, turn right on Fayerweather Street and then a left onto Huron Ave.

SEE IT: On view through June 30th.

MORE INFO:   http://mobilia-gallery.com

Rare Books and Manuscripts @ Boston Athenaeum

 

Text Written By Elana Willinsky

 

This week, I was lucky enough to visit an exhibit of rare books and manuscripts at the Boston Athenaeum in Beacon Hill. This beautiful independent library, nestled in one of Boston’s oldest and most upscale neighborhoods is a work of art unto itself. Non-members of the library are allowed to walk along the first-floor level and admire the floor-to-ceiling shelving, which houses books on a vast array of subjects pertaining to literature, science, and art, written throughout the centuries by authors around the globe. Looking out over the Granary Burying Ground, the Athenaeum carries the historical and alluring old-world feel that lingers throughout downtown Boston. The rare books and manuscripts display is one of the many exhibits, events and lectures that the Athenaeum opens to the public.

 

During my visit I walked alone through the deserted gallery trying to contain my nerdy, literature-loving excitement. Dramatic lighting over the exquisite, encased, old books easily gave me chills. The work on display is selected from an ever-growing collection that the Athenaeum has been cultivating through gift and purchase since 2000. The books displayed a variety of book-binding and printing techniques. Notably, a manuscript published in 1911 entitled Trois Gysographies d’apres Jose Maria de Heredia showcases a since-extinct method of printing named “Gypsography” by the author. This process included the use of impressions from bas-relief gypsum sculptures and created delicate, whimsical, bodied illustrations. Only forty-eight reproductions of the book were completed due to the cost and difficulty of the printing technique.

 

The books on display span centuries, styles, and subject matter. A favorite of mine was The Rules and Regulations of the Magdalen-Charity, with Instructions to the Women who are Admitted and Prayers for their Use. This book was published in 1769 and the title generously describes its contents. What it does not mention is that the Magdalen Charity was a home for repentant prostitutes looking to change their lifestyle and be introduced to a different trade. The cover is a thick, coppery red leather inlaid with a gold border of intertwining roses and winged hourglasses. The center, also gold, shows a woman in profile completing the darkly romantic aura of the book.

 

Anyone should be able to find something within this exhibit that delights them. Personally, I had a near-episode coming across a 1930 edition of Hart Crane’s The Bridge illustrated with photographs by Walker Evans, a brilliant depression-era photographer and admirer of Crane’s work. The Athenaeum created this exhibit with the hopes that patrons would be inspired to return to the library seeking out work on display that excite them. The library, located at the intriguing 10 1/2 Beacon Street is a treasure for book and art lovers alike.

 

GET THERE: Take the Red, Green or Orange Line to Park St.

SEE IT: On view through August 9th.

MORE INFO:   https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/exhibitions/current-exhibition

Out In The Open @ Riverway Park

 

Text Written By Maria Napolitano

 

To visit the Studios Without Walls’ Out in the Open exhibit, all you need to do is take the Green D Line to the Longwood stop, cross into the Riverway snaking next door, and open your mind to the installation in the park. However, for some of us the T can be a bit confusing. I mistakenly took the Green E line to Longwood Medical Center, a completely different stop. Fortunately, it’s still within a short walk of the Riverway – and that quick jaunt from the busy Medical Area to the calm Riverway makes the creative oasis in the midst of the city especially poignant.

 

Out in the Open meanders through a short stretch of the Riverway’s paved path, but each artist’s piece has a distinct space within the exhibition. Complementary but distinct, the elements of the installation show a mindfulness and awareness of their location, as well as a shared conscience. Seen/Not Seen, Bette Ann Libby’s contribution, makes use of the Riverway’s trees to question the space through a selection of mirrors affixed to their trunks. Libby took care not to damage the trees by attaching the mirrors to fine netting wound about the trees instead of to the trees directly. Not a Chance also hides in a small grove converting its space into a stage for silhouettes that incorporate, but do not alter, the Riverway’s form. Wendy Wolf plays with both form and title in her taut piece, Brook Lines. The cotton threads she strings between tree branches are fragile and ephemeral and yet are a distinctly human imposition on a natural space. The yarn could be incorporated into a bird’s nest or may simply disintegrate when battered by Boston’s weather but it will never be mistaken for a purely natural element of the landscape.

 

Some parts of the installation invite the viewer to participate, which adds a crowd-sourced and modern twist to the exhibit. A Tree Enhanced asks the public to use one of the provided twist ties to add a wish to a tree adorned with the hopes and dreams of other visitors. Suggestion Boxes collect recommendations from the park’s visitors: a practical piece of the installation. However, balancing this interactive side of the show are some impositions on the space and the viewer that, while physically accessible, act more as an exercise in internalizing and analyzing additions to the landscape rather than participating in it. Set in Stones and Zigzag Over Essence place sculpture atop a small, grassy knoll, tempting the viewer to touch the pieces. However, the works play to the common viewer’s museum training in that the viewer understands to carefully sidestep the art as it is fragile and solely meant for visual consumption. The stones Sally Fredkin arranges on the mossy ground may still be arranged as she intended, but any viewer could easily have shifted their design, and left a small revision for the next passer-by. Maria Ritz zigzags about idea of juxtaposition and contradiction with eggshell-like fragments that command more attention than Fredkin’s piece, and questions with their brokenness the concepts of new birth and fragility.

 

Out in the Open is a modern installation, one that attempts to engage the viewer whether they stumbled across the pieces on a stroll through the park or if they deliberately attended the show. In today’s world, the interactive show is worthwhile and is one that can be justified in a public space. It begins with pre-meditated pieces, but relies on its viewers to grow into its own: a mission that can find extraordinary success in participatory communities, but that can cast aside the vision of the pieces’ first creators as more and more minds join the effort. This compromise and risk can be a difficult one to accept, but in an installation like Out in the Open that brands itself as “responsive sculpture,” participation and trust, as well as awareness of others, is key. An installation that reflects on its presence in an open space, reliance on a fragile natural background, and impermanent status is suited to the evolution that interactive art invites. As it enhances a bend in the Riverway, Out in the Open grows with the community it encounters and creates, linking together passive viewers and excited participants. With each passing day, the installation becomes less of ten separate elements, and more of a cohesive collaboration between its original artists, the artists who join in its refinement, and nature herself.

 

GET THERE: Take the Green Line to Longwood.

SEE IT: On view through May 18th.

MORE INFO:  http://www.studioswithoutwalls.org

Seeing Glacial Time @ Tisch Family Gallery | Tufts University

 

Text Written By Rachel Parker

 

This weekend I arrived at Tufts University to find everyone moving out (I’m thankful I wasn’t driving – there was no space for a visitor). I’d planned on seeing a show called Snapshots which showcased the final projects of a class of SMFA students. Instead I wandered into the Tisch Family Gallery and was astounded. The work of eight photographers, painters, and multimedia artists in the Seeing Glacial Time exhibit explore representations of climate change and the arctic landscape. Concerned with a way of demonstrating a serious change in climate which is not easily observable to the normal eye the show attempts to represent change over time in a way that the viewer can grasp and understand. The images are incredible and deeply moving, whether painted or photographed. At times apocalyptic, at times impossibly beautiful. Seeing GlacialTime is a sophisticated and thoughtful show; each artist standing out from the crowd in unique ways.

 

Subhankar Banerjee’s arctic photos overwhelm the space literally and figuratively. They are quite large and if you enter correctly (unlike me) they draw the eye through two rooms of impressive work. Banerjee’s focus is the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been the topic of debate for over thirty years in the United States Congress. The question is whether to open up this land, crucial for herds of Caribou, to oil and gas development. Caribou Migration I, photographed in 2008 as part of series called Oil and the Caribou, is spatially dynamic and is (for lack of a more academic way to describe it) simply gorgeous. Banerjee uses an aerial perspective, which allows him to snap a picture above ice-covered plains of a herd of caribou streaming downwards from the top of the photograph in multiple lines. The effect is dramatic and angular. The dark Caribou stand out against the icy blue below them and seem as small as ants marching in single file.  The photograph exposes the fragility of the ecosystem, which sustains both human and wild life despite its barren harshness and is so clearly vulnerable.

 

Resa Blatman’s Arctic Dust Cloud is a three dimensional representation of an iceberg made with laser cut PVC. Blatman uses appropriated digital images to create her layered, fractured Iceberg, in high tones like pink, red and black. The iceberg sits atop a massive system of roots or tree branches spreading downwards. An impressive piece, it ends the show (although this is where I began the show, wandering in from the wrong direction) with its dark and foreboding power. Different from Banerjee’s conservationist concern, which suggests more impending landscape change, Blatman’s work reinforces the monumental nature of the iceberg as it undergoes current changes, cracking and fracturing.

 

Camille Seaman’s The Last Iceberg/Grand Pinnacle Iceberg, photographed in East Greenland in 2006, is one of a collection of high-drama seascapes. In this one, an iceberg rises out of freezing, almost black water, except where it turns a greenish blue due to the reflected or refracted white of the iceberg. The colors, the light, and the strangely shaped iceberg, rising out of the water in sharp pinnacles are unforgettable. Seaman records icebergs and glaciers as they disappear, and her compositions marry the drama of high contrast and calm stillness.

 

This is a beautiful show and the message is clear; change can be seen everywhere in the exhibit. The three artists I described and the other artists in the show, Olaf Otto Becker, Diane Burko, Caleb Cain Marcus, Gilles Mingasson, and Joan Perlman all find different ways of representing “glacial time”. It is well worth the visit, although I do suggest not going when everyone is moving out. A free E-publication for the exhibit can be downloaded from the Tufts Art Gallery Website.

 

GET THERE: Take the Red Line to Davis Square

SEE IT: On view through May 18th.

MORE INFO:  http://artgallery.tufts.edu

Nostalgia @ Atlantic Wharf’s Waterfront Square Gallery

 

Text Written By Maria Napolitano

 

Nestled in the Boston Society of Architects’ lobby, the Atlantic Wharf’s Waterfront Square Gallery’s new show fills a liminal space with an examination of the past. A gallery that is, in effect, the waiting area between the building’s elevator and back entrance seems doomed to be passed over but the space suits this show as viewers pass in and out of focus like the memories the show engages. Composed of works by nineteen members of the Fort Point Arts Community, Nostalgia takes on the many different permutations of the title notion. Some works probe the classic scenes that evoke a longing for a fairy-tale past, while others tangle with the pain of a long-lost love, and more still struggle with the concept of spaces changed in a viewer’s absence or the internal shifts that also accompany time’s steady march out of the past and towards the future with little regard for the here and now.

 

As with all shared exhibits, paying each work and each artist due respect is an impossible task. But within the themes I found in the show some pieces stood out more than others. In the realm of past but not forgotten loves, Adrienne Schlow’s Hardly Never grabs the viewers’ attention as they idly await the elevator. A bright piece of scrawled pop art; it is littered with images of women that, upon closer examination, prove to be variations on one theme, one woman. The scribbled text “I never even think of her anymore hardly” hovers above the chaos of faces and features an amalgam of true and blurred memories. The content of the piece stands at odds with the excited pastel palette and bold make-up enhancing the many iterations of Her face across the canvas.

 

Claudia Ravaschiere takes a more reserved approach to the end of romance. In her smaller, subdued Stay nine silver, painted circles hang in a 3×3 grid to display abandoned, crumpled, and stacked pillows. The viewer stares at the inanimate objects and is forced to wonder, who, exactly, is being asked to stay? Why? Where have they gone, and how long ago (if they did) ignore the title’s request? Some of the rumpled pillows are bound with rope, and some are paired. Why are some tied together, and some left alone in their rumpled state? Without a human image, bed, any setting at all, or even context beyond the title word, the dejected pillows tug at each individual viewer’s memories of lonely pillows and their uses of the word “stay”. The piece draws on each viewer’s past to create a uniquely powerful work for every unique set of eyes.

 

Laura Davidson pulls antique objects and ancient images together in multimedia works that cohere within small frames. Memoranda and Morning Music feel archaic, reminiscent of opening a treasure chest of knickknacks in a dusty attic. Scratched keys, scores of iridescent buttons, fragments of a violin, and the images of classical sculptures are assembled like jigsaw puzzle pieces in a shadow box, a set of keepsakes or a time capsule exposed to the public eye. These intensely personal and specific images oppose the photographs Daniel J. van Ackere captures. Remembrance and Summer Porch are beautiful and familiar images, blurred, and resonant for so many viewers. With foggy snapshots of idyllic summers and melancholy wilderness, van Ackere plays to the binding ties that such common hazy memories create. The longing for softened years past and eras smoothed over by the passage of time connects the viewers of his photographs, via a sense of déjà vu dependent on his images striking a chord deep within each of them. Leslie A. Feagley’s images are also familiar ones but show the effects of time on real locations while memories remain static. Dilapidated road signs, billboards, and abandoned road trips resonate with the viewers familiar with the loss of a physical memorial to a cherished memory.

 

The final pieces that, to me, examined an important facet of Nostalgia were gems by Jessica Burko. Journaling 24 Hours and Journaling on Identity are a pair of intense self-examinations, collaged similarly to Davidson’s frames. Each features handwritten journal entries, photographs of an unknown hand examining the journal, and souvenir-like faded wallpaper but is completed with a black and white snapshot of what the viewer must assume is the subject, tacked over these print images. Journaling 24 Hours is about a rambling concern that there are not enough hours in the day, only twenty four! The issue of “how is it possible to accomplish all the many tasks that need to get done…when can I spend some time just thinking…?” becomes a thematic plight for the writer.  The same voice wonders, in Journaling on Identity, “What is an identity when an identity is constantly changing?” In a frank but frantic exploration, the writer struggles to place herself in the present and the past simultaneously, juxtaposing her desire to carpe diem while acknowledging the washed-out wall paper and time-worn photographs that brought her through the past to the overbearing present. The viewer takes on a voyeuristic role by gaining access to the writer’s private musings and fears. However, when confronted with such universal questions such as the structure and source of identity, and the ephemeral nature of each day filled with both mundane chores and a conflicting desire to enjoy the fleeting present, the viewer overwhelmed with the existential dread Burko layers into these pieces. An unconventional approach to nostalgia, where the present is still very much acknowledged, and even overshadows the past, lends strength to the pieces of the past still included in the work.

 

Twisted memory, shifted loves, fluid identities, and inexorable change: nostalgia takes on many forms throughout the Atlantic Wharf’s Waterfront Square Gallery’s show, as it does for everyone familiar with the “sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” In an age obsessed with documenting and sharing the present while planning for the future, nostalgia can strike in unexpected moments and with great force. The Fort Point Artists Community excels in capturing the nuances of this heavy sentiment in its many variations, and has assembled a powerful exhibit ready to catch the eyes and hearts of visitors to the BSA as they pass through the gallery.

 

GET THERE: Take the Red Line to South Station.

SEE IT: On view through July 6th.

MORE INFO: http://www.atlanticwharfboston.com/awb/index.html

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RIDE THE SUBWAY, SEE SOME ART.

Boston Art Underground makes find art in Boston easier. No matter where you are in the city, world-class exhibitions and galleries are never more that short subway ride away. Using the MBTA subway map as a guide, Boston Art Underground’s one-click stop familiarizes its users with the art spaces in Boston and showcases local artists and organizations.