Open Call NXNE 2018: Works on Paper at BMAC
EDITOR'S NOTE: Running January 13 through March 10, 2018, the newest Open Call NXNE exhibit is reached by heading to the right from the Kahn & Mason Gallery. Works by 22 New England and New York artists, juried by Sique Spence of the Nancy Hofmann Gallery in New York City, offer a wide range of 2D and 3D artistic expressions to please and even amaze viewers. Be sure to stop in to enjoy them before they move on. - JW-P
The underlying theme of this exhibition is paper, its inherent properties, and the range of possibilities it offers in the hands of an artist.
My primary objective as juror was to select the best work, and I was delighted by the rich variety of means, methods, and subject matter presented. The absence of the actual work from the selection process presented a challenge, but more interestingly, a fascinating exercise in perception and judgment. Scale and touch were calibrated rather than felt by direct impact. I was often surprised when learning the scale of a work, even seconds after seeing an image on the screen; size matters. It also makes a difference whether something is monotype or drawing, ink or etching. It is important to have a sense of time and process to inform intent when thinking about a work of art.
Not surprisingly, landscape—and, more broadly, nature—was a prevailing theme among the submissions. Deft, beautiful landscape prints by LINDA MAHONEY and WILLIAM HAYS, and spectacular watercolors of trees full of life by DEBORAH RUBIN, fall into balance with the more intimate abstracted flowers by ROBIN REYNOLDS and suggested vistas by BRADLEY BUTLER. Flipping the notion of nature in art, RUSSELL SERRIANNE uses actual vines as lines to create resonant abstract patterns.
Contrasting in scale, but connected through subtle sensibility and meditative process, are the small embroidered grid works by MARJORIE FORTÉ and the more human-size silverpoint piece by RITA EDELMAN. I also draw an energetic connection between the sure-handed black-and-white monotypes by CHARLIE HUNTER and the voluptuous four-paneled mixed-media drawing by SCOTT TULAY.
In some pieces the paper itself played a more active role. The folded paper as background for the delicate abstractions by M.P. LANDIS, the cut strips in the tongue-in-cheek works by MARY MATTINGLY, and the large, explosive, woven abstraction by JEN SIMMS each address paper as a medium to break into. Taking paper to a more sculptural plane are the ritual-like vessel forms of JUSTIN PERLMAN and works by PAT BEGA, which draw directly from the artist's perception of seascape and rocks.
The obsessive nature of the work by self-taught EDWARD A. KINGSBURY presents us with fractal-like patterning. Another work that falls into the metier of the obsessive is the hand-written signature by SEUNGTACK LIM repeated uncountable times on found printed surfaces.
Decorative motifs are summoned in a variety of formats. ANTOINETTE WINTERS offers several patterned abstractions on small sheets of paper of varying scale, lined up on a shelf like a garden (or, to my mind, a cityscape). A more formal presentation is the large glowing grid of vessel-shaped forms by FRANK OZEREKO. Borrowing from and dismantling systems of pattern and decoration is the layered and stitched work by CYNTHIA DAVIS.
Nothing slows one's attention quite like words on a page. The instinct to stop and read is powerful. SAYWARD SCHOONMAKER's compelling work makes the looking and the reading most engaging. Another attention grabber for me is the hidden image. NIKI KREISE masterfully balances eccentricity and enigma in her small paintings on paper.
With everyone accounted for, I would like to thank all the applicants for giving me the opportunity to see their work. I would especially like to thank Mara Williams and Sarah Freeman for inviting me into the life of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. It has been a delight. I also would like to thank all who venture into the museum to see the exhibition. I hope it will bring as much pleasure, insight, and surprise as I enjoyed in putting it together.
Copyright 2018, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont