Seven is a symbolic number. It’s heralded as lucky in games of chance, represents the seven chakras, and refers to the figurative number of seas, the traditional number of Wonders of the Ancient World, and the number of days in the week. And, from Nov. 19 to Dec. 19, seven is the number of artists showing work in the exhibition Seven Perspectives, at the Stremmel Gallery.
The artists in this show are a diverse group, and the work ranges from realistic painting to large-scale sculpture. Even thematically the work might seem disparate. However, for the most part, the work of these artists fits together in the gallery, offering a wide variety of styles and approaches—perhaps illuminating each artist’s perspective in relation to the others.
Ann Weber’s sculptures are arguably the most remarkable pieces in the exhibition because of their size and location in the gallery. Towering above the heads of gallery visitors, they demand attention and interaction. At first glance, they look like woven baskets that have taken on the forms of larger-than-life chess pieces. Once you walk among the sculptures, which seem on the verge of toppling, they reveal themselves to be made from cardboard strips that have been woven and stapled, then lacquered.
“My abstract sculptures read as metaphors for life experiences such as the balancing acts that define our lives,” Weber writes in an email about her work.
Just as eye-catching are Marc Kantano’s large, colorful paintings that occupy the walls around Weber’s sculptures. The paintings are essentially color fields with errant yet deliberate and repetitive lines that begin to form football-like shapes.
Shape and color also play a role in John Belingheri’s paintings, which are comprised of colorful circles layered in random patterns. The paintings contain rich textures of canvas, and some areas give the impression of having something stuck to them while the paint was still wet. It’s almost as though plastic wrap had adhered to the surface and then been removed. The paintings give off an illusion of depth even though they merely represent geometric shapes.
Similarly, Catherine Courtenaye’s large oil paintings experiment with mark making and repetition. Her paintings evolved from the stylistic vocabulary of the Victorian age, taking imprints of letters and signatures and layering them on brightly colored surfaces. The paintings, in an abstract way, are reminiscent of hand-drawn maps.
There’s a relationship between Courtenaye’s work and the work of Gordon McConnell.
“Both of us are absorbed with material and subjects from the 19th century,” writes McConnell via email. His paintings depict typical Western cowboy scenes as represented in film, mostly in black and white. Occasionally, he will add in a color panel in the style of comics, but in all of his work, the paint application is done in a flat and graphic way.
“When they look at my work, I hope people will think about how image-making itself is a way of thinking about and transforming an experience,” writes McConnell.
Related to this idea of transforming an experience are the realistic paintings of Gregory Thielker. Thielker’s pieces simply show the view from a car while driving through the rain. While they copy the visual reality of the scene, they also explore the sensation of the blurred view through the glass.
That brings us to the pastel drawings of Leonard Koscianski. Koscianski’s drawings of flowers are colorful, beautifully rendered, and because of their large size and the way they occupy the entire frame that contains them, seem almost confrontational. This show truly is comprised of seven perspectives that, while distinctly different, share common ground.