Critical Mass., Part I

Before this series: The Chain Letter Show

Jennifer Riley, A Bettor's Dream, 2011, oil on canvas, at Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston

BOSTON--If someone hasn’t come up with Critical Mass. as the name for a blog or magazine about art in Massachusetts, they should. I’m going to use it for several blog posts about the art I'm seeing in the state this summer. I'll have more for you periodically as the season progresses.
Jennifer Riley at Carroll and Sons
Jennifer Riley fractures space in her paintings. The geometric abstraction for which she is known—crystalline structures with a landscape sensibility—have evolved into big, graffiti-esque lines that swoop and curve up against the picture plane and then appear to recede into deeper space. Riley fills in the negative spaces so that they become positive, making them dance around and and through the linearity. Smaller pastel drawings at first appear to be channeling Joan Mitchell; up close you see they’re studies for the larger paintings, which nevertheless have a life and identify of their own.

Chromatically and compositionally, the show, A Bettor’s Dream, feels joyous, and Joseph Carroll’s cool, airy installation in light gray walls (which my photographs do not convey well) is a perfect antidote to the summer heat. Artist info here. The exhibition is up through through August 27.

Jennifer Riley, Fire-Fangled Feathers, 2011, oil on canvas, 90 x 66 inches

Installation shot: To the left as you enter the gallery

Below: A gallery image of Eye of the Beholder, 2011, oil on canvas

Below, as you look back toward the entrance

In the gallery's Corner Office Gallery, Damian Hoar de Galvan shows works on paper and sculptures made of scrap materials, both small and the large one you see here. The gallery’s installations shots are great. Check them out, but better still, see the show, I Wish I Had Something to Say. (You’ll find that the artist is visually quite talkative.) Artist info here. The exhibition is up through July 30.

Damien Hoar de Galvan installation view

Nancy Natale at Arden Gallery 
If Nancy Natale is not known to the New York art world she should be. Her small solo show at Arden Gallery on Newbury Street is from a series of recent works called Running Stitch. There’s no thread in these constructed paintings, however. Composed of castoff book parts, rubber strips, metal and other materials, they have been laid out and tacked into assemblages that are equal parts formal beauty and polyrhythmic muscle. If I wanted to be flip I would say that Natale’s work is the love child of Lee Bontecou and El Anatsui. But that would be unfair to an artist who has forged a vision that is quite her own. Artist info here. The exhibition is up through July 30.

Installation view with Some Fell Among the Thorns and Schematic (with sculptures by Anne Lilly)

Full-on view of Some Fell Among the Thorns, 2010, mixed media, 24 x 42 inches

Installation view with Schematic, 2011, and Brought to Tears, 2010, both mixed media

These two paintings were installed on an L-shaped wall. My photographs were not good enough to post, so I've pulled these images from the gallery website

Above: Cinch, 2011, mixed media, 30 x 40 inches
Below: Passing Days, 2011, mixed media, 24 x 24 inches

Critical Mass. will continue sporatically throught the summer. In the next installment, on August 3, we'll go to the Cape Cod Art Museum in Dennis, Mass.


CMC said...

Congratulations to you, Joanne, for getting into the studio when you have so many fabulous shows to go see and to review. It takes a lot out of a person to take this time to talk about the art you see.

AND, big congrats to Nancy for such a wonderful show at Arden. Much deserved praise on the work there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing us to the galleries in Massachusetts. I am looking forward to more in Critical Mass.

Anonymous said...

Once again, a creative post and refreshing look at what is right here. Thank you for posting and also beginning this new feature! I will have to get to Carroll and Sons soon, most especially enjoyed the link to Riley's work to see how it has evolved. And of course, Natale's work is very moving.

Oriane Stender said...

Nancy N - gorgeous work!

Glenn said...

Both shows... just down right beautiful!

P.S. said...

I'm loving the work by Jennifer Riley. Thank you for the great photos and words as usual, Joanne.

Ellen Gaube said...

Jennifer Riley's sensuous curves are reminiscent of Art Nouveau, a stripped bare translation of the Arts and Crafts movement and, of course, fill-in-the-doodles during Art History lectures. All that and more. I love curves.