Friday, June 18, 2010

Charlotte Viewpoint - "Taste and See: Commentary on Local Visual Art"

Phillip Larrimore wrote a wonderful piece on Charlotte's art scene in Charlotte Viewpoint and Dialect's Dialect Nights got to shine:
<< Recently and with a dawning sense of wonder it occurred to me that there were artists working here whose work I would find interesting if I saw them in New York or L.A. Because this is new work by artists who are even now evolving, it seemed best to write briefly about them, as a part of ongoing relationship to something new rather than embalm them in "expertise." My own basic criterion is fatally simple: I know something is good if I remember it, and I see great deal that I quickly forget. But I encourage you to look yourself, and moreover, to “taste and see.” * * *

Frequently, I don't know what I think about something until after I have “sat” with it, and this may be a matter of months, or even years. There is a pre-digested or miscellaneous abstraction that immediately induces boredom. This I know that I think about.
There is a realism that is merely paint-by-numbers rather than observed. Likewise, there is work that tries to rattle my bones, but they've already been rattled, and I don't care. But when a work puzzles, genuinely puzzles, then I know I have something to work with.
Barbara Schreiber’s work has plenty of this anomalous something. Her paintings are almost tiny, and done in seemingly guileless illustrational technique remindful—to me, at least—of Francophone colonial children's book illustrations from the pre-WWII colonial period, of Tintin or Babar. Her earlier work was captioned with phrases that seemed dropped from some missing haiku, compounding the puzzle. Her latest series, the Boarding series, are views from the oval-esque window of an airplane, and depict a sequence of pilots, stewardesses, passenger… and locusts… seen on the boarding ramp.
There is something of the between-destinations quality of a Hopper train-passenger painting to them, something of the sleepy, half-aware state a passenger feels watching the lives which one will never know except by fragment and deduction en route to their destinations. But how does she manage to make these images feel like a CAT scan or microscopic cross-section of a narrative that may be reconstructed? The strength of the work lies in this sense of narration which is partially available, partially cancelled, and reminds me of certain writers, really, rather than painters—Yasunari Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, which hang narrative fragments out to dry, or the water-colors described by Georges Perec in Life: A User’s Manual, which are sent from foreign places to be turned into jig-saw puzzles and then boxed, mailed, and then destroyed on arrival at their final destination. At any rate, this moment of puzzlement proves to be as durable as an epiphany.
By fluke I got to see three different shows by Diana Arvanites in rapid succession, the first at a studio she was closing, the second as an installation at Dialect Design, the third at McColl Center, where she is now in residence. The studio show featured modular abstractions, generally consisting of two larger rectangular panels and a third narrower one. These use a cunning array of tromp l'oeil textures in which, for example, sponging turns into drawing or collage—in a variety of minty greens, subtle aquas, cool pre-dawn pinks, or residual sunset apricots along with a few caustic citrines. (I haven't figured out WHY these panels can be re-configured and will interface, but they do.) >>

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