Saturday, February 28, 2009

REVIEW: Amanda Franz at Langdon Street Cafe

   Montpelier’s premier counter culture hang out is the Langdon Street Cafe, and its visual art programming is generally strong. Paintings by Amanda Franz appear for the waning days of winter. Her seventeen watercolors, of which six are no more than 5” x 6” are bright and airy landscape based abstractions. She also presents eleven tenebrious, textural acrylic nocturnes.
   Many of Franz’s watercolors come from her The Space In Which Eyes Endlessly Open series. It’s a poetic title, and the visual poetry of Franz’s work makes her titles apropos. The Space In Which Eyes Endlessly Open #10 takes viewer’s eyes on a journey through rolling desert hills. In the foreground a band of indigo gives way to umber hills deeper in the picture plane. Franz skillfully modulates the intensity of her paint, letting it become progressively richer at it nears the horizon. It’s a high horizon, resting beneath an orange band of sky along the top edge on the paper.
  If #10 is a desert landscape The Space In Which Eyes Endlessly Open #1 seems to be from the arctic. It’s a vista of blues and white.  A distant pale mountain reflects onto an inlet, in the center right of the painting. A pale purple section separates the mountain from foreground blues, and Franz enlivens the piece by using complimentary yellows in her sky, reflected in the  body of water.
   Franz’s works on canvass are not quite as strong as her watercolors, but most still have engaging qualities, and she’s beginning to successfully refine an interesting personal aesthetic. The Mute Gravity Of Some Disquiet is a long horizontal piece with a bare tree 
silhouetted in front of a large moon at right. That You Could Give Up A Portion Of Your Eternity is less predictable - Franz found a chromatically richer palette with a bright yellow moon floating behind rough passages of textured green, blue and purple. The largest piece in the group, again with a full moon, has a wonderfully marbled silver, pale blue, and slate gray surface.
  The Langdon Street Cafe bills itself as a “worker run, collectively owned” cafe, but that’s not all that makes it unique. The cafe includes one of the few functional art vending machines in Vermont. The readapted cigarette machine had been christened the The Gladiator since it makes people glad, and it sells a variety of cigarette pack sized poems and object de arte to the delight of both art, and vending machine enthusiasts. visit the Cafe’s website for more information.