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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the December 11, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Review: `Line of Inquiry’ at MCCC
Although curators frequently gravitate toward the theme
show as a vehicle for bringing lots of artists before the public at
the same time, creating a group exhibition that is more than the sum
of disparate parts is hard to pull off. Thinking about a theme and
a group of artists, the curator can make at best only a calculated
guess about the future compatibility — in terms of content
and chemistry — of the work she plans to solicit. And it may not
be until after the work is installed that she learns whether her guess
has paid off.
At the Gallery at Mercer County Community College, curator Tricia
Fagan selected as the theme for a group show our most basic act of
mark-making — the line. She has used this theme to successfully
draw together works by five area artists into a provocative and unified
constellation. On view through Thursday, December 19, "Line of
Inquiry" features multiple works by Joy Kreves, Elizabeth McCue,
Helen Mirkil, Paul Mordetsky, and Harry Naar. Gracefully installed
in the gallery’s three rooms, the show presents work in two and three
dimensions and in all media. And as the title suggests, the viewer
may find the idea of thematic inquiry a helpful vehicle through which
to meet new artists and perhaps see familiar work with new eyes.
"For human beings, the use of line is one of the most elementary
of lessons. From the time we first clutch crayon or pencil in hand,
dashing streaks on paper or bedroom wall, our personal style in `mark
making’ begins its lifelong evolution," writes Fagan in her gallery
notes. The muscle and movement inherent is her characterization of
line are key to the show’s success.
Elizabeth McCue weighs in with both big busy drawings and incredibly
spare and dynamic sculpture. Her three-dimensional works in particular
establish high demands for line. "Ball of Thorns No. 1," a
sphere formed of woven branches and string surrounded by a corona
of dried leaves stands at the show’s entrance. It was a surprise to
discover that its companion piece, "Ball of Thorns No. 2,"
contains no natural materials but is entirely cast in bronze. I was
most taken by McCue’s big pedestal sculpture "Arms of the Night,"
two soaring, determined lines of bronze that push their way through
the air until they meet in a scintillating touch.
Also near the entrance is one of six big ink drawings on paper by
Harry Naar. Naar says he uses drawing as a kind of "visual brainstorming"
before he paints. Working with a single ink pen, he methodically and
meditatively sets down line after line, almost all of the same weight
and width; these aggregate ink marks are both spontaneous and irrevocable.
One resulting nature study, "The View," is as ineffable as
the lines that define it; it draws us into its imaginary space and
satisfies as an abstraction in its own right.
Joy Kreves is a natural choice for an artist who thinks about line;
"linework," she says, "has been the focus of her work
for 10 years." Her "Disc" series is comprised of virtuoso
studies of the beauty and dynamism of well-chosen lines, a meditative
weaving set in a circular frame. Complementing Kreves’ two-dimensional
works on paper and included in the show are her line drawings on porcelain,
from the powerful "Black Rain Plate" to her lighthearted "Noodle
Line Platter" which sports a playful line formed (I would guess)
by a real noodle.
Helen Mirkil, a painter from the Doylestown area, offers, among the
five artists, the most variegated mix of work. Her atmospheric and
expressionist figurative paintings and ink drawings, some embellished
with oil pastel and some with shoe polish, use line and color to evoke
real people and places — not just the way they look but the way
one feels in their presence.
It was not until I approached Paul Mordetsky’s nine landscapes that
I discovered I was looking in a new way. Working in oil and oil crayon,
Mordetsky uses paint to create the illusion of natural form. Yet suddenly
I noticed how line now ruled my way of looking; I found myself seeing
differently. Now the nature study "Full Tilt" hit me as a
dynamic cascade of line, almost as animated as the geologic tilt that
defined the landscape. What more can we ask of a theme show?
— Nicole Plett
Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, 609-586-4800, ext. 3589. Open Tuesday
to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday evenings, 6 to 8 p.m., and
Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m.
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