Sunday, April 12, 2009

REVIEW: Harriet Wood at Catamount in St. Johnsbury

by Janet Van Fleet

Harriet Wood is a painter whose canvases sing and dance. (The triptych above is even called Alex Wants To Dance I, II, and III.) Her colors are vivid and her painting is vigorous and full of a manic but elegant energy. With the exception of a few portrait heads and swampy landscapes, all the work in the show is exuberantly non-figurative and decidedly a cohesive body of work.

Patches of scrubbed, saturated color are highlighted by strong lines that sometimes appear to have been applied directly from the tube, enhancing the energy and drive of the work. In some of the newer pieces from 2009, such as Karuna (above, a diptych 45 x 76"), she adds repeated elements, such as the white ear-like curves in the lower left, and wavy lines spooning in the lower right. Homage to Klimt has a patch of staccato dots.

The piece getting the most comment at the crowded opening reception on Friday evening (April 10) was The Last of Just (above, 22.5 x 22.5"), from 2006, with dark black, olive, and muted reds overlaid by scarlet linear elements that suggested calligraphy or Chinese characters.

The work in this exhibit is lush and intense. It’s at the Catamount Arts gallery in St. Johnsbury through April 30.