First Friday in the South End – August

Last Friday evening I spent several hours in the studios and galleries at the 450 Harrison area of the South End. I came across a surprising number of works that resonated with my interests. Some highlights:

The first maplike works I came across were at Kingston Gallery by Chantal Hardy, in an exhibition called “Current” which was right up my alley. Most of the works they had appeared to be abstracted aerial views of islands, but I was particularly arrested by one piece in which the artist had gone back in and added a framework on top of some of the topography. I have to paste her entire artist statement here because it just sounds so much like my approach:
“A limited palette and a narrow vocabulary of marks in pen and ink on watercolor paper hold infinite possibility. The accretion of tiny, taut tick marks and earth toned dots gives birth to continents and islands, to mountains and shorelines, to highways and harbors. Organic landscapes are bifurcated by cities and geometric, manmade infrastructures. The topography builds itself, like land out of lava, as I scrape the metal nib ad infinitum or allow the pen to linger, bleeding ink into wet paper. This truly is art as an act of creation. Having gone off the map, I am literally making a world.”

I wasn’t able to find anyone working in the gallery to ask if I could take a photo, and she has none (of that series) online, but I suppose that’s her loss.

I also stopped into Soprafina Gallery and was a bit interested in one work by Thaddeus Beal, but my interest was cemented when I started reading about his inspiration and concepts, which apparently include fractals and chaos theory. It reminds me of how Jackson Pollock’s works have a fractal structure despite (or perhaps due to?) their intuitive construction. I’ll have to keep an eye on this one!

Thaddeus Beal, “Breaking Symmetry”, mixed media on wood

I saw some literature outside Rhonda Smith‘s studio at 450 Harrison that caught my eye. Unfortunately the studio wasn’t open during the event, but I’ll keep it in mind for Open Studios in the fall. Her work has a lot of intricate, maplike elements, and in fact in part of her artist statement she writes “As I am working I am often thinking of water, webs, tectonic plates, even my recent subway ride: that is, any phenomena that I can map or follow”

Rhonda Smith, “Lands Moving” 2012, oil and pencil on panel

Right when I thought I had seen everything in 450 Harrison, I remembered for the first time in several months that there is actually a fourth floor with artists as well. I wandered into one studio and saw some work I’d never seen before. Apparently the artists had just moved in this spring. I was immediately stopped by a huge painting of an aerial view of Logan by Lynda Michaud Cutrell, from her Google Earth series. Something about the way the building network was depicted was very biological, almost like a small intestine. This worked well with other work in her studio, which included a layered painting of molecules and other biological building blocks. I’d be interested to see if she does any work that combines the two!

Lynda Michaud Cutrell, “From Up Here… Everything Looks Organized”