• In Long Island City, Local Artists Go Big and Bold

    hyperallergic.com/528829/in-long-island…

    by Alissa Guzman, November 18, 2019

    Exploring Long Island City’s Fall Open Studio & Salon event this past weekend was a surprising experience, combining the discovery of new spaces and studios with exciting, boundary-pushing artwork. Going big and bold, local artists favored installation, mixed media, and sculpture, with five artists in particular exemplifying this shift toward expanded materiality.

    The wild world of Jody MacDonald, on view at Radiator Gallery, was full of the theatrical, like a dystopian version of Alexander Calder’s “Circus,” where the mundane morphed into the grotesque. Her diorama-like sculptures were intimate and inviting, while creating intrigue through a palpable attention to detail. Installed at roughly waist height, the sculptures present strange scenes, such as in “Dogfaced Boy,” in which a watercolor of an apartment complex overlooks a 3D swimming pool where a threadbare figure floats casually reading a magazine. In “The Clown,” a slowly rotating circus clown sits atop an AstroTurf pedestal, surrounded by 2D balloon dogs. Melding sinister narratives with playful iconography, each piece is a world unto itself.

    At Local Project, stepping in the cramped studio of Jon Boyer as he carefully dismantles a range of plastic toys feels a bit like walking into a shop in Tokyo’s busy Akihabara neighborhood, where sensory overload is similarly a given. Boyer’s relief paintings are filled to the literal edge with dismantled toys, like dissections of mass consumption that take knolling to a new level of obsession. The inclusion of various characters illustrate the gendered nature of toys, while classic themes of childhood, imagination, and fun also appear. Boyer’s work reminds us that children rarely use toys as they were intended.

    Inspired in part by the accumulation of paint on her palette, the work of Brazilian artist Carin Kulb Dangot turns painting into a sculptural practice. Three-dimensional objects with ambiguous surfaces that almost ooze toward the viewer, her abstractly coiled or stacked forms look as much like failed ceramic pots as they do deflated objects like a fire hose, beach ball, or bicycle tire. Built up through layers of acrylic paint, they refer to a process of accumulation. As layer upon layer of paint seems to tell its own story, viewers are left wondering if the works themselves are all made from the discarded palettes of her more traditional paintings.

    Inside the elegant studio of Patrick Neal, where paintings were hung salon-style from floor to ceiling, a more traditional sensibility shone through. Approaching still life compositions with a sort of thrift store mentality, Neal purchases any number of odd vases, fabricated flowers, and playful textiles to lay the groundwork for his impressionistic paintings. In “Blue Octopus,” Symbolist aesthetics mix with what Neal calls “queer materials” — magic marker, nail polish, spray paint, and glitter — referencing the artist’s interest in a glam aesthetic. Octopus, owls, and colorful frogs lend an artificial mood to paintings that aren’t indoor or outdoor, but exist instead inside his carefully constructed naturalist wonderland.

    Various tree roots dangled and swayed from the ceiling of Local Project, as part of an installation by Anastasiya Gutnik. Cheesecloth, animal bones, human hair, and other memento mori adorn each hanging piece, reminding me of the provocative work of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and bringing a goth-aesthetic to the installation. The work feels personal and precious, as each found object is given a new story. One particular work, “Bell Jar Assemblage Sculpture,” was particularly compelling, and featured a range of materials — from bones to the dried seedpod, t-pins and drawings — all carefully, almost religiously, modified and given new life.

    Long Island City’s 4th Annual Fall Open Studios & Salon took place at various locations throughout Long Island City, Queens, November 16–17, 2019. The event was organized by LIC Arts Open.

  • “ArtBeat Report” on The Bill Newman Show on WHMP Radio, October 2019

    whmp.com/podcasts/shows/bill-newman/?fb…

    by Donnabelle Casis, October 2019

    On the ArtBeat Report this morning: TONIGHT The ArtSalon goes to Conway; HUT XXV: Words, Sound, Movement, Saturday in Northampton at Studio4 School for Contemporary Dance and Thought; Next Tuesday Peyrelebade Patrick Neal Reception at the Oresman Gallery at the Brown Fine Arts Center Smith College: Art(Stops) in Springfield put on by the Springfield Central Cultural District . Listen live around 9:50am!

  • PEYRELEBADE: Patrick Neal Paintings at Smith College

    issuu.com/patrick064/docs/neal_peyreleb…

    By Kim Power

    “I would just like to say that it is my conviction
    That longer hair and other flamboyant affectations
    Of appearance are nothing more
    Than the male’s emergence from his drab camoflage
    Into the gaudy plumage
    Which is the birthright of his sex.”

    –My Conviction by Jonathan Kramer (1968)

    Patrick Neal is a magpie. According to superstition, magpies will line their nests with shiny objects. Missing your keys? Check with a magpie. Neal’s studio holds an eclectic collection of diaphanous fabrics, colored lights and ornaments, fake and real flowers. Color spills over into pattern, reflecting and refracting like a holiday carnival. His joyous and unapologetic celebration of kitsch indicates that this is serious play.

    Nothing is sacred. Art materials are anything that can be applied to canvas and board, from oil paints, to markers to nail polish. Yes, I said nail polish. Other traditional mediums including acrylics and watercolor are also fair game. Whatever gets the job done and activates the surface, stimulating the visual cortex to maximum capacity.

    Very much a process painter, Neal connects with the materiality of his artworks both physically and perceptually, embodying a gestalt of interconnectivity that translates directly into compositions that interweave elements of both space and time. William Brighty Rands, a poet of the Victorian era, tells us of an upside-down world where the impossible is possible, butterflies court bees and gentlemen are ladies. (Topsy-Turvy World, 1837-1895) This is exactly the world, and even the time that Neal’s paintings evoke. There is a nostalgia for another age, one of lace kerchiefs and blowsy flowers in vases. However, the romantic quality of Neal’s style is set askew by his whimsical alteration of the laws of gravity. Objects wobble but they do not fall down. What is a perfect world of beauty is set off-kilter, creating a dissonance between our ingrained assumptions and what we are actually experiencing, causing us to reset our internal meter for aesthetic order. Much like Picasso’s cubist portraits such as Weeping Woman (1937), subject matter that might be seen as sentimental is turned into a collage of exotically colored still life tropes that turn the genre on it’s head and make us question the material reality of the objects themselves.

    Neal’s Beggar’s Joy (2014) is an all out fiesta of food, flowers, colorful lights and… wait, is that a plastic cup of phosphorescent green liquid? It defies the logic that defines still life within a set of logical parameters, reminding us that, hey, life is messy. Then again, Neal’s use of the title, Beggar’s Joy is perhaps the most telling in this waterfall of color and form. Phillip Guston’s Beggar’s Joys (1954-1955) uses a similar color palette of pinks and scarlet reds. If you squint, you can almost imagine that, despite the pure local greens in the composition, Guston’s more muted painting, dissolved, as it is into a state of pure abstraction is the seed for this colorful arrangement of ephemera. The other items—beets with green stems, red cabbage, and a purple cabbage, lit by red incandescent bulbs—seem chosen less for their contextual relationships than their color palette. Neal’s seemingly random arrangement of objects and insertion of the occasional light bulb is reminiscent of Guston’s later paintings created in the 1970’s. However, while Guston’s still life paintings might seem incongruent, there is still a hieroglyphic linear order, which Neal eschews, abandoning himself to a contagious frivolity announced by outrageous colors and a spontaneous sense of movement. He seems to be having quite a lot of fun.

    Even though the corporeal reality of Neal’s paintings tells us he is a materialist, the artist’s conceptual understanding of his relationship to his artworks is more related to his bodily schema, how his actual person is interconnected with the actual experience of painting. In other words, he takes into his own body, both visually and through physical perception the subjects he represents, their relationships to each other and to himself. This explains the feeling of disequilibrium as Neal attempts, through movement in space, to find his place in accordance to his placed objects. As he moves, so does his perspective and so we are witness to—sharing, in a way—the act of painting the objects, while simultaneously witnessing them frozen in time.

    This enmeshed relationship of figure to ground is rooted in Neal’s early days of art development. During his studies at Yale University School of Art, where he received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking (1994), Neal’s desire to find an anchor for the objects he represented led him to develop a methodology of interlocking pattern as a sort of place-marker against which he could measure and evaluate both the proportion and placement of his chosen subjects. What initially began as a structural mechanism for Neal has now developed into a visual language through which he can speak about the interconnectedness and non-dual awareness of inanimate objects. At the same time, the sensuous nature of his expression, incorporating lush materials and seductive textures, like mylar balloons, sequins and glitter, projected lights and colored glass, aligns him with the flamboyant, celebratory and transporting adornments of queer culture.

    Neal’s oeuvre is perhaps best likened to Édouard Vuillard’s intimate pattern-laden spaces of domestic activity. His still-life paintings could easily be set in a corner of one of Vuillard’s rooms, such as La table de toilette (1895) or one of Pierre Bonnard’s late interiors. His mark making and privileging of pattern and decoration over real space aligns well with the Nabis of the late 1800’s. Neal’s paintings expand over a wide range of degrees of order versus disorder. It is as if he is building a nest of treasured items, gathering them together and establishing relationships simply by their existence within the same picture plane, all woven together in a tapestry of color, pattern and texture. Vuillard himself produced still life paintings early on in his career which were likened to the works of Fantin-Latour in their “sobriety of composition” (Edouard Vuillard by Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, 1954), a fact that holds some importance in that two of Neal’s most recent paintings Fantin-Latour (2018) and Fantin-Latour 2 (2018) pay homage to this 19th century French painter. Neal seems to be championing Vuillard’s thoughts included in his private journal that he kept from 1888 to 1905 and, later, from 1907 to 1940: “Nothing is important save the spiritual state that enables one to subjectify one’s thoughts to a sensation and to think only of the sensation, all the while searching to express it.”

    The works included in Peyrelebade express a primary visceral though decorative, visual response by Neal to his environment, and the objects in it. His paintings describe a sensorial experience that reflect an almost child-like wonder and sense of play. The innocence of this artistic response brings to mind the literary works of early 20th century authors James Joyce (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916) and Marcel Proust (Swann’s Way, 1913). Both novels introduce their main characters as children, and express their experiences of the world through sensory perception. For example, Joyce’s main character, Stephen, recounts the sensation of his father’s face and the touch of damp bed sheets. Proust’s novel opens with a child in his room at bedtime, describing the darkness and the feel of his pillow against his cheek. At first, Neal’s items seem haphazard collections from his own peregrinations to and from his studio. However, in a recent conversation he described to me his mother’s tendency to create beautifully intricate vignettes and tableaus as part of their home décor. His latent realization was that, somewhat unconsciously, this was in fact an influence on his own desire to similarly display and direct the symbolic narrative of objects in his paintings. Thus, it would appear that a magpie might leave its nest but never really leave home. This manifestation of the development of artistic consciousness from its earliest stages is a profound and common thread that he shares with Joyce and Proust, and sets the stage for the safety from which he allows himself to explore diverse permutations of the still life format, of which he takes full advantage.

    Like a moth to a flame, I am fascinated by Neal’s representation of the vagaries of light and reflection. It is not the light that is known to the acolytes of Caravaggio, nor the colorful impressions of Monet, but a completely artificial element, even when it is a direct example from nature. To understand Neal’s approach to this elusive subject, I went back to one of his earlier works, Lite Brite, painted in 2015. Lite-Brite was a toy made of a light box, black paper and colored pegs that would be illuminated by the electric light panel once punched into the holes covering the paper. In Neal’s painting, the children on the box look almost as maniacally cheerful as the patent clown face. The box itself is surrounded by a swirl of rainbow colors. The synthetic spectrum of this palette mirrors the artificiality of the light it is meant to represent without actually portraying the luminosity of the lights themselves. Essentially, Neal is “talking” about light by indirectly referencing its source. His representation becomes the “idea” of light, just as in Plato’s allegory of the cave, the shadows, to the prisoners, represent real objects. Once again, he is linked to Proust who also invokes Plato in his description of the “magic lantern” which reflects “an impalpable iridescence, supernatural phenomena of many colours, in which legends were depicted, as on a shifting and transitory window.”

    Flash forward to Neal’s painting Fireflies (2019) which portrays four fireflies (and one ladybug) surrounding an olive-colored earthenware vase of burgundy, rust, orange and yellow flowers (with the single addition of cobalt blue rose and leaf at the base of the arrangement). The fireflies (painted larger than life, with yellow posteriors) are as big as the flowers themselves and surrounded by a greenish-yellow glow (which has somehow transferred itself to the ladybug as well). Nothing about the phosphorescence that they emanate is naturalistic. Its representation is identical to the electrical light of Lite-Brite portrayed in his earlier painting. Neal’s egalitarian handling of luminescence tells us that he is not concerned with the representation of light in real time but the conceptual understanding of it. In Fireflies we are given to understand that light exists by simple extrapolation, because if not for its existence, the flowers and vase would be subsumed by the dark that has already partially attached itself to the patterned floral background. The dark itself is no longer ephemeral either but has become part of the ongoing floral motif.

    In returning to Neal’s homage paintings of Henri Fantin-Latour we see his conception of light doubly evident. Each painting by Neal includes a depiction of Fantin-Latour’s own self portrait paintings from 1861 and 1858 centrally situated. The latter painting, Fantin-Latour 2 shows Fantin-Latour representing himself in deep chiaroscuro, whereas the former, Fantin-Latour is painted in a more impressionistic, though still classical style. Both paintings speak to a desire on the part of Fantin-Latour to represent light in a realistic fashion. Yet, Neal, in his reproductions flattens out these effects, giving us again an “idea” of Fantin-Latour’s efforts, without reproducing them. To present them as faithful copies would be contrary to Neal’s consistent representation of light as a signifier of illumination, not the effect itself. This is further supported by the array of objects that surround the portraits. Glossy gem-colored plastic in one, a blue satin in the other, “reflect” the colored light that hits their surface but even this is broken up into dots, dashes and lines, rather than modeled on the surface. The gestural mark making becomes a notation of the effects of spectral refraction. Finally, the inclusion of Fantin-Latour’s portraits in these latest arrangements tells us that Neal is no longer simply painting about light as an abstract concept but painting about painting about light.

    The magpie, coming home to roost in Peyrelebade, brings us many treasures. We are introduced to the possibility of using visual language as not only an abstraction of a natural phenomenon but one that is reflective of itself—a complex meta-narrative within the simple structure of still life painting. The conscious and subconscious mind merge upon this element, illuminating the trivial and mundane with certain knowledge that we are both the viewer and yet indelibly connected to the object viewed through our own perceptions and personal histories.

    –Kim Power, 2019, New York City

  • The 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships on Two Coats of Paint

    www.twocoatsofpaint.com/2018/07/2018-ny…

    Contributed by Sharon Butler, July 2018

    This year hardworking panelists Julia Whitney Barnes (Dutchess), Franklin Evans (New York), Elliot Green (Columbia), Sarah McCoubrey (Onondaga), and Mie Yim (Kings) selected the The New York Foundation for the Arts painting fellowship recipients from a staggeringly large pool of 3,071 applicants. Each artist will receive a cash grant of $7,000, and the three Vnalists — Jordan Casteel, Clayton Schiff, and Don Voisine — will each receive prestige and a few other beneVts, but no funding. In the 32 years that NYFA has been awarding the fellowships, $31 million has been distributed, which sounds like a lot until you consider the economic beneVts artists have brought to so many New York communities over the years. The state should consider expanding the program. Here are images and links for the 2018 NYFA grant
    recipients, some thoughts about the selection, and a bit of advice for painters who didn’t receive funding this year.

    Among the panelists it seems that a narrow definition of painting prevailed. Image, design, and enigmatic narrative overshadowed process-based, eccentric materiality, and conceptual approaches. Figurative painting and geometric abstraction are well represented, but messier, more challenging image-object, text-based, and
    expanded installation approaches were roundly shut out.

    The advice winners and panelists usually give to unsuccessful applicants is not to take it personally, to make sure the images submitted are of excellent quality, and to keep applying. I would add that for those painters who need funding to realize a speciVc project, applying for Vscal sponsorship through NYFA or Fractured Atlas and developing a crowdsourced fundraising campaign might be a viable route. Please don’t let a lack of government recognition and sponsorship deter you from challenging the status quo.

    Congratulations to the talented 2018 NYFA fellows and Vnalists, and best wishes to all the painters, especially the under-recognized and uncompensated, who continue to work in their studios.They are the ones who make the New York art community the most stimulating place on the planet.

  • Birds of America: Explorations of Audubon The Paintings of Larry Rivers and Others

    artandcakela.com/2017/04/09/birds-of-am…

    By Kathy Zimmerer, Art and Cake, April 2017

    Fans of James Audubon’s exquisite large-scale plates in his Birds of America will enjoy Larry Rivers’ loosely painted but spirited renditions of Audubon’s gorgeous illustrations. Painted by Rivers in the 1990s in tribute to the re-release of Audubon’s book, other contemporary artists also were invited to contribute their unique interpretations of Audubon’s birds, ranging from the surrealist to the photorealistic, for this exhibit.

    Rivers was an important New York artist who revived figurative expressionism after the advent of Abstract Expressionism. His work included such witty and incisive paintings as “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” a reimagining of the historic painting by Leutze. His reinterpretation of famous masterpieces were both pop and expressionistic at the same time, but he steered clear of the deadpan commercialization of pop with his luscious painting surfaces where color ruled. A true Renaissance man, he had multiple talents and was a teacher, jazz musician, filmmaker, television personality, actor, wrote poetry and designed for the stage.

    While Rivers riffs on Audubon’s imagery he manages to crystallize the essence of the image or portrait of each bird much as Audubon did. While fluidly painted, the Black Necked Stilt has an intriguing oddity to its presence as it balances on one leg, with a three dimensional depth since it is collaged on. His portrait of Audubon and his dog encompasses the keen intelligence and love of nature that Audubon is famous for, while holding a rifle, a bird perches on his head and his hunting dog by his feet. This lyrical, flowing portrait is modern yet seems timeless. Most stunning of his bird paintings is Plumed Partridge, where these brilliantly colored birds with their intricate feathers are silhouetted against an illusory landscape. Rivers is a genius at outlining their shapes and movement; just as he beautifully captures the contrasting burnt sienna and soft blue of their plumage. Their life and vitality reverberates across the surface. The proud look of his Double Crested Cormorant can be attributed to Rivers concise portrayal of this bird, whose yellow plumage laid against the black feathers stands out against the sky. All of his birds have an uncanny presence, such as the Avacet, a kind of sand piper that delicately picks up food with his long beak. Depicted in a shell pink against the accents of his feathers and beak, Rivers imbues this bird with a dainty walk.

    Current prominent artists who have reinterpreted Audubon’s prints with wildly divergent styles augment Rivers’ suite of paintings on the Birds of America. The California Condor by Tom Sanford shows this prehistoric bird perching on top of the a skull, and a pile of old fast food wrappers and drinks, topped by a beer can, showing the birds precarious hold on life in the midst of an environment overwhelmed by trash. The power of this huge bird is magnified by the stylized lines and outlined silhouette Sanford uses to create him. Kent Williams’ Raven is a study in color for a black bird as pinks, blues and yellows dissolve and melt in the bird’s feathers and ground. Paul Paiement’s acrylic, mixed media painting, After Audubon, After River, American Robin is a photorealist tribute to the birds and the American landscape. Thomas Frontini’s painting, The Brown Pelican, depicts a magnificent bird as it opens it impressive beak, with the latent strength of its wings evident in its volumetric profile. Shimmering midnight blue envelopes a vase with blue, pink and coral flowers where a bright blue bird perches in Patrick Neal’s still life, Indigo Bird. The Golden Eagle, in all its regal power, with chilling claws and a sharp beak, is portrayed concisely by Nelson Loskamp. Whimsy and poetry takes over in Robert Fleisher’s delicate watercolor, Yellow Breasted Chat as tiny birds build a delicate nest among pink flowers. Darkness overcome Chambliss Giobbi’s collage, Raven, as a pair of wings highlighted against a dark sky gives an ominous cast to the atmosphere.

    In these diverse and rich reinterpretations of Audubon’s unique vision, Rivers and contemporary artists have shown the fantastic diversity of American wildlife that is threatened in an alarming way by the current political climate. Their spotlight on these splendid birds shows just how much we have to lose if we do not fight back.

  • Patrick Neal at the Chocolate Factory

    Patrick Neal / Floors and Walls-New Paintings
    The Chocolate Factory, Long Island City, NY, May 2007

    By Rick Whitaker

    If, as Clive Bell wrote in his early-20th-century essay "The Debt to Cézanne," that greatest of modern painters invented an instrument on which later artists may "play their own tunes", Patrick Neal has fashioned from it a prepared piano in which nuts and bolts and rubber bands are placed inside the grand piano making sounds newly strange, exotic, and fresh, enabling the composer to indicate with a conventional notation a panoply of noises that evoke the gamelan, music we in the West will never fully understand or appreciate, however much we may love its exhilaratingly chaotic-sounding productions. What we love most about the Tibetan sound is precisely its otherness, its distance from our own sound-world, and likewise one of the aspects of Patrick Neal's paintings is the sense they suggest of distance from an ordinary pictorial relation to the object. It's music, but it's not diatonic or modal or even serial. The harmonic gestalt is unique.

    As I write this, I can hear 'music' from the simplest and folksiest of 'instruments,' a homemade wind chime bought years ago on a summer day from a farmer who had fashioned it from spoons, an ingenious little contraption that makes the sweetest sounds I know, the easy relation between weather and metal reminding me of the outdoors, of the wind, of the farmer, of summer, of the years gone into the past. Similarly, Patrick Neal's pictures evoke the natural world that lies behind Cézanne; they suggest both Aix-en-Provence and the unsettling aftermath, the world since Cézanne. By having come so close to his precursor, it's as if Neal has gone madly into the arena, and his paintings are the record of a struggle that is meant to disturb. The spectators want to see blood shed, and Neal's agon with Cézanne gives it to us in one picture after another. Painting for Neal is frankly competitive and ruthless, he tears off a piece of the past and masticates it before our eyes. It’s exhausting and endless work. There is no clean success, no ultimate victory, there is no hope of overcoming or subduing the master, just as no writer has ever seriously entertained the feasibility of matching, let alone overtaking, Shakespeare’s breadth and depth. Writers do not even attempt it, it is a hopeless impossibility. And so it is with Cézanne, on whom no painter could conceivably improve. One is forced to do something else. Coping with his work of a century ago, for a certain kind of painter, is a shaming prospect. Thus the excitement we feel witnessing an artist like Patrick Neal's originality oozing out from the desiccated sac of the history of art. His paintings are re-inventions or re-visions, astonishing re-figurations of what cannot be other than already-seen. The paintings suggest that we are nearing the end of re-seeing, that these pictures have eked out whatever life is left in the particular kind of seeing known as painting. Perhaps it has always been so, perhaps Cézanne’s paintings appeared similarly final a hundred years ago in their statement of what the artist is capable of doing with pigment on a flat canvas. But there is something vertiginous about imagining a painter grappling, a hundred years from now, with Patrick Neal's bloody, battle-worn works of art.

  • Tastes of Mingled Palettes

    *Living Arts
    The Boston Globe, Thursday, June 23, 1994
    Tastes of Mingled Palettes
    By Nancy Stapen*

    New Talent at Alpha Gallery, 14 Newbury Street, through July 8

    For the buyer willing to go with his or her intuition, this is a great time of year to visit the galleries. Those with less-than-deep pockets can benefit from the crop of "new talent" shows, those yearly rituals at which galleries try out new artists with highly affordable price tags. Some of these hopefuls go on to artistic prominence; others disappear into obscurity. In any event, the wise buyer concentrates on finding that obscure object of desire.

    The sovereign site of new talent is the Alpha Gallery, which is holding its record-breaking 26th annual New Talent show. Among the well known painters who premiered here are John Moore, Francis Gillespie, Richard Sheehan, Aaron Fink and Scott Prior. This year's group of five is a mixed bag; yet, though their styles vary, all are concerned with nature and organic form. They include older and younger artists; among the former is Beverly Floyd. Her abstract oils and collages of striped elongated forms, often labeled "Floating Gourds," evoke such natural phenomena as tadpoles or muscle tissue. Lodged in wide horizontal bands of muted color and partially obscured by gauze, tissue or blurred paint, they are veiled and elusive. They suggest something coming into being, or thoughts emerging to consciousness.

    In Dennis Crayon's collaged fresco-like paintings, past and present collide. Seeming to be crumbling ancient fragments, the images are created via photostatic transfers onto plaster. Eggs and bunches of grapes are frequent motifs, combined with images of architectural sites, what appear to be computer chip patterns and (sometimes actual) tools. Some of the images of eggshells seemingly dematerializing are particularly effective; they evoke life's fragile beginnings.

    Nature is fragile yet stalwart in Judith Bowerman's low-key monotypes of single plants, flowers or trees, which delicately explore aspects of texture and color. A seemingly gray-brown palette is leavened by pale yellow, and undertones of pink and magenta. The attenuated, isolated forms are offset by Bowerman's confident contours. She is an artist who doesn't shout, but hums.

    By contrast, Patrick Neal's oil paint still lifes are busy with patterns derived from Islamic and Asian cultures. Still, their earthly rusts and greens maintains a muted mood. Neal tilts his objects upward; this spatial play is futher complicated by the regularity of the patterns played off against the lush leaves of randomly proliferating plants. In "Still Life With Islamic Pattern" the leaves curl near a vase painted with floral designs, a fluid meeting of nature and culture. Neal's images suggest that the 70's movement known as Pattern and Decoration is still alive for young artists.

    The youngest artist and only sculptor, Bethany Bristow (who graduates from the Museum School this year), works in glass and mixed media. Bristow melts and distorts bottles in a kiln, creating objects reminiscent of the body, with a curious mix of tensile strength and enervation. Rope binds the forms, or, in works like "Bleed," emanates from the bottles' "orifices," suggesting seeping body fluids. Kiki Smith and Eva Hesse are clearly influences, but Bristow gives every evidence of developing a strong subjective voice.
    ............................................................................