Charlottesville Sept shows

I should have written this last week, but I actually made it out to openings here in Charlottesville Friday before last:


Second Street Gallery - Susanne Kessler: Synaptic Drawings

The whole gallery was full of big installation size drawing/collages. Some of the details are really nice - she made loose, abstract scribbles on paper, then meticulously cut them out and scrambled them all up with wire fencing and other Home Depot materials. I'm glad she doesn't lean only on the intensity of her obsessive methods, and though several pieces don't come together (the Home Depot-ness of many of them is still strong and unintegrated), overall it's a good show.

Migration Gallery - Peter Krebs: Interactions

Krebs shows 2 bodies of work at Migration. A set of drawings of chairs in NYC's Bryan Park is nicely spare and evocative of people without showing them. More potent are his large drawings of worm's eye views of trees, in charcoal on plywood. The clunky handmadeness of them worked better in these than the chair pieces, and when the convincing drawing of the tree rubs against the tiny scratched of the surface of the plywood there's some real magic.

Les Yeux Du Monde - Stefanie Newman, Esmé Thompson and Deborah Kahn
I'll write about each of these individually as there wasn't a real tie between the three shows:

Stefanie Newman's pieces are upstairs and visible from the street and that's too bad because they are by far the worst of the show. It's hard to tell from the image above, but she's taken hunks of 19th century paintings and re-painted them on semi-3D chunks of paper coming off the wall. Think a less graceful and inventive early Elizabeth Murray. The 3D areas have little relationship to the images on them, the painting is choppy and ham-fisted and the whole package seems more like an undergrad art class piece. Maybe even high school. I'm being a little harsh because I don't understand why Lynn at LYDM is showing these so prominently - she usually makes good judgements about what she shows, and the other two artists in the show have much better work.

Downstairs, Esmé Thompson's pieces are more what I expect from LYDM - not always great, but nice, tasteful, and well-made work. Like Newman, Thompson works from other art - the weakest pieces of hers are based on some Piero paintings - but when she goes her own way (or buries her references deep in her own drawing) she makes some luminous, though at times thin, beauties.

The real star of the show, and the night, was Deborah Kahn. Her thick, almost carapace like paint surfaces represent hight abstracted figures, but they also do the almost impossible - they seem ossified into hard shells but still have a lightness and flexibility that's astonishing. She make dirt move while just sitting there. In one work there's a tiny flick of paint that off-handedly coalesces into a figure's eye. Badass mastery.

There's also stuff at the McGuffey, and The Bridge has a GREAT show and that I'll write about later this week.

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