Review: No Rest
By: Amy Haddad
December 17, 2016
The six artists that made up the show “No Rest,” which debuted on December 17 at Arts on Elston, had different aims. Ken Hogrefe* was interested in “non-traditional painting formats.”
Mary Dorrell* focused on abstraction in order to have a better understanding of color. Others mixed their own paints or tried new materials. However, one theme governed this show: experimentation. Each room of this three-room show tackled this theme differently.
The front room created a dialog between the familiar and unfamiliar. It was refreshing to see the influence of eminent twentieth-century artists applied in new ways.The rapid brushstrokes and dribbles of paint in Merrill Ehrenberg’s “Woman on a Chair” called to mind Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. According to Christine Connor,* Jasper Johns inspired her two graphite and pastel pieces, both titled “Flora Study.” Other pieces recalled Franz Kline and Robert Rauschenberg.
The show’s theme continued in a neighboring room. Here, direct influences from established art luminaries were less obvious. Rather, the exhibiting artists turned inward on their own practices and challenged themselves by restricting their color palette, for example, or mixing their own colors. The results were laudable.
Visitors gravitated toward Connor’s abstract painting, “Elevation,” and it was easy to see why. The viscosity of paint—created from a limited color palette of predominantly blues, grays and creams—and exposed linen resulted in a textured surface that was visually captivating. Elizabeth Wojcik’s nearby “Memoria De Cumpleaños,” another abstract piece, was a worthy juxtaposition. Teal and blue-green colors bled into the canvas, and created a softer, yet effective, response to Connor’s piece. These works were joined by Michael Lewis Bennett’s flower drawings, which were a welcomed visual variance in a room of abstraction.
In the last room, and in the open space leading up to it, visitors saw paintings and drawings from all six artists. The experimental theme radiated, as the artists engaged with specific aspects of their art practices. Dorrell mixed figuration and abstraction in four paintings of her family; Wojcik deviated from rapid brushstrokes and incorporated clean, smooth lines in her painting, “Opening;” Bennett’s drawings incorporated a variety of subjects, such as a toy robot, figure studies and more flowers, and relied more heavily on shading.
The quality of work in “No Rest” was commendable. People enjoyed seeing Hogrefe challenge established painting practices: “violatingthe typical rectangular ‘picture window’ format that is commonly found in oil and acrylic painting,”described the artist.It was a point made clear by his collage, “Requiem and Elegy,” which consisted of large, geometric shapes adhered to a gallery wall—freed from the confines of a rectangular canvas.Others delighted in Ehrenberg’s large-scale abstract works. Above all, this show, curated by Rebecca George (Founder and Director of The Art House), was inspiring. The exhibiting artists moved beyond their comfort zones and experimented with specific elements of their art practice. Entering the unfamiliar is unnerving at times, but the results are usually well worth it—as this show attests.
*This artist is an Artist in Residence at The Art House.
Amy Haddad writes for Veritas Health. She is also a freelance art writer and blogger. You can read her blog, Art Diversions, at artdiversions.com and follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.