Winter Romp at the Drawing Room
If you are reading this, you are one of the few and lucky who know to remain around the South Fork to enjoy what is truly and finally the off-season. Although there are much fewer cultural options in this week before new theatrical productions kick off and the arts institutions get back into gear, there are still enough good art shows to check out and enjoy on the weekends. The Drawing Room gallery in East Hampton has one of them, a winter sampler of its stable of artists from here and afar.
It’s a show where John Torreano’s sparkly jewels and “Whale Sharks” series and Jennifer Bartlett’s gold, silver, and platinum leaf in her “Homan-ji” series are balanced by the matte and flat finishes of Sue Heatley and Raja Ram Sharma in the front room, and a suite of spare but colorful Sheridan Lord paintings of the open spaces of the South Fork shares the back room with Kathryn Lynch’s tiny abstracted landscapes.
In between are some of Laurie Lambrecht’s recent embroidered photo prints of tree trunks, a John Alexander portrait of “Sunflowers in Autumn,” and some Gustavo Bonevardi minimal watercolors. There’s more bounty downstairs, from the old, turn-of-the-century gold-toned gelatin print images of vegetables and flowers of Charles Jones to Mary Ellen Bartley’s latest series of photographs of Jackson Pollock’s books.
Aya Miyatake contributes some small and lovely alabaster pieces and Fiona Waterstreet has several unusual ceramic sculptures in the form of birds on view. Finishing up the downstairs group are the colorful paintings of Hector Leonardi, whose artwork, formed by strips of acrylic paint applied to canvas, echoes the striped effect of Ms. Bartley’s book photos.
It is, once again, a tour de force of curatorial know-how and aesthetic sensibility, each grouping of artist and artwork playing up the others in a kind of Hans Hofmann-esque push-pull of styles and colors.
There are some surprises in store as well. Sue Heatley’s “Guanajuato” series of acrylic on linen paintings seem almost like Valerie Jaudon’s impasto bands of Byzantine patterns, but Ms. Heatley’s have important differences. Her undulating bands of paint are more freestyle mark-making and their loose configuration reveals an under-painting that looks fully conceived. The effect is something like the bleeding out of old billboards or wallpaper or the revelation of something once redacted or censored. The combination of colors is pleasing to look at, the surface colors muted and peaceful, with the under-painting more lively and saturated. She packs a lot into a 12-by-12-inch space.
Ms. Bartlett’s set of three compositions, “Series 1” from the “Homan-ji” group of works on handmade Japanese paper, are also richly patterned compositions in a square format. The set of glass vases and flowers at left seem like a formal arrangement until one notices the stems of the flowers reach beyond the depicted vessels. The stems become patterns, the flowers become patterns, and the presumed background is less a wall than an interlocking weave of blood red color. The swirling orzo shapes in white on a dark ground in the middle panel gather like schools of fish to form more patterns in a subtle yet intriguing manner. The simple plaid pattern formed by the navy blue and gold lines on the right seems just the right amount of order in this environment, a pleasing coda to the bordering chaos.
The black silhouetted birds of Dan Rizzie are what stand out in his grouping, mostly by his own making. He places them on or in the midst of circles of solid color. The works on paper, using mixed media and collage, are small but memorable. They are matched by Mr. Torreano’s single gemstone studies and scattering of gleaming dots of color in his whale shark panels of acrylic and gold leaf.
Mr. Sharma’s flat and fictive landscapes from 2014 seem set in or inspired by real locations, but they take on a fantastical air due to his selective use of illusion to create perspective or hint at three dimensions. He gives the hand-ground mineral pigments subtle gradations, but there is little shade or shadow. This group is marked by his use of checkerboard flooring as a device that manages to add to the visual confusion rather than ground the compositions into traditional spatial relationships.
For those who missed the gallery’s recent show of Lord’s work, the artist, a Sagaponack resident until his death in 1994, is represented by several canvases in the rear gallery. It serves as a snapshot of the subjects that attracted his attention in the 1960s and 1970s. Although known for the views of Sagaponack he painted from his porch and beyond, these paintings depict primitive, slightly abstracted waves at the beach. His small study of Accabonac Creek is more realistic, but still resembles a gathering of masses, related to the landscape, but also apart from it. The 1970s landscapes have a more traditional realism but play up the simple planes and layering of a South Fork vista.
Taking Lord’s subtle abstraction to its next level and beyond, Ms. Lynch’s pleasing and simple landscapes capture the light and warmth of a summer day at a time when we sorely need to be reminded of them.
There is much more to explore in the hallway and downstairs on Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 20.