Critical Mass.: Newbury Street

Nancy Natale and Marybeth Rothman
Nancy Natale in the window at Arden Gallery
BOSTON--There are two gallery neighborhoods in Boston: Newbury Street in the Back Bay, which we're visiting today, and the South End, about a mile south, which we'll visit this weekend. Newbury Street is  the 57th Street of Boston, full of tony shops and galleries. Some galleries, like Arden and Lanoue Fine Art, have windows that face the street. It's a uniquely Back Bay experience to walk up Newbury Street and see art displayed so beautifully in the windows and then to ascend the stairs to the parlor floor--I think most of the lovely brownstones used to be residential--into a refined white-walled space. (Disclaimer: I am represented by Arden Gallery.)
Nancy Natale, an artist due for some serious attention, has the window at Arden Gallery this month. Her show, The Resonance of Time, is up through January 28. Metaphorically and physically, Natale pieces together disparate elements--cultural and industrial remnants: book spines, metal snippets, painting strips--into a mashup of memory and emotion. The work is from her Running Stitch series, but it's not stitched. Everything is held together with tacks in a kind of polyrhythmic syncopation to the horizontally placed elements. You might think of quilts or stained glass, or maybe the organization of information when your computer is in the process of defragmenting. It's all there visually. Natale invites you to make sense of it on your own terms.

In the window: Singing the Blues, 2013, mixed media with tacks and encaustic on panel, 48 x 30 inches

Believing Destiny, 2012, found and invented elements with tacks and encaustic on panel, 24 x 36 inches

The artist, left, in spirited conversation with gallery owner, Hope Turner
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Next door at Lanoue Fine Art, Marybeth Rothman, who has been showing in New York at Tria Gallery, is here represented by several large photo paintings in a three artist exhibition with Hung Liu and Eric Zener, also up through January 28. Rothman has the window.

Marybeth Rothman in the window at Lanoue Fine Art: Eugene, encaustic and mixed media on panel, 40 x 40 inches
Interior view of the gallery, with Hama on the far wall
Below: Hama, encaustic and mixed media on panel, 40 x 40 inches
Rothman selects what she calls "orphaned photographs"--snapshots and portraits that have been discarded by their origial owners--and lives with them in her studio until she develops affinities for some of them. The affinities lead her to imagined biographies, which she expresses by scanning and digitally manipulating the images in size and color to create a visual memoir with layers of words and a painted scrim in nearly transparent wax. Some of the newest paintings, like Eugene  and Hama, are almost Fauvist in coloration; others have the evocative soft hues and patterns that befit fading over time. The works' inventive formal issues aside, anyone who has glimpsed a stray photograph and wondered about the life it represents will respond to the tenderness and mystery of the personnages in Rothman's oeuvre. 
More info: 
. Lanoue Fine Art 


Nancy Natale said...

Thanks so much for your post, Joanne! It is a wonderful experience to show at Arden and have a piece in the window on Newbury Street. What a pleasure!

Susan Buret said...

Lovely to see this work. Wish I could see it in the flesh!

Munira said...

Great post. Loved reading it. Congratulations, Nancy. Your paintings look awesome!

annell4 said...

Wonderful post!

Diane Novetsky said...

As a Boston painter, I'm thrilled to see a post about two great shows in Boston. I love your keenly observed remarks on these shows, and look forward to seeing Nancy Natale's show. However, there are some great galleries slightly off the beaten track, just a few miles from posh Newbury Street. I'm curating a painting show called "Surface Matters" at the Brickbottom Gallery in Somerville which I invite you to come visit, opening January 27. {Forgive the shameless plug, Joanne.}