Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sounding for Fathoms @ Parallel Art Space

The show looks a little like the art work of it’s curator, Andrew Zarou, often modest in scale (with the occasional large sculpture), based in found materials, with a strong reliance on line and a palate that errs on the side of earth tones found in the home decor of someone who belongs to a food co-op. Now, it’s pretty common for artist/curators to show work reflecting their own taste, which can be problematic, but in this case, the resulting show is excellent, focused and coherent.

The standout for me was Michael Voss’s rows of worn and blackened tennis balls. From what I remember, the black smudges seemed to form shapes on the tennis balls, but in retrospect the smudges could have been the result of random bursts of spray paint. Either way, the dark worn balls immediately brought me back to warm childhood memories of finding one of the hundreds of tennis balls that went missing while playing baseball in the backyard, only to have them turn up weathered and worn after a fresh mowing of the lawn or trimming of the hedges. I was also impressed by Christopher Patch’s sculpture of a very tall tornado or slender tree trunk made from ropes in a variety of colors. The structure was bound so loosely that you could see through it, creating the illusion that the whole thing could collapse at any moment. Creating a wondrous mass of household psychics defying materials.

I am a little on the fence with Ruby Palmer’s small installations, which use shadows to create line on small hard-edged installations of small arranged pieces of wood. Making art with shadows seems hard to do without being cutesy, which was my initial reaction to the work, but the more I sat with it, the more I enjoyed the pieces of wood on their own. The use of common desk lamps as a lighting source does bring the shadow art down to earth. The result is work that feels like a happy accident stumbled upon in the studio, rather than a mystic magic trick where art is created in a transient medium. I loved her piece that hung just below the very high ceiling. It’s hard not to be fond of art that is going out of its way not to be seen.

I didn’t love Ben Pritchard’s large brush strokes of muted colors against a field of raw canvas. The paintings are a tad dark for my taste, though clearly well crafted and in keeping with the general palate of the show, while hammering conforming to the general theme of line that I got from the blurb above the artist list. But overall, an excellent show, one of the best ones I’ve seen at Parallel, and it very much makes me look forward to new work by Zarou.

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