Thursday, December 9, 2010

REVIEW: Holiday Show at BigTown Gallery in Rochester

by Dian Parker

Not only is BigTown’s current show rich with new art, it is also stocked with Christmas ornaments, knitted scarves and hats, jewelry, hand embroidered birds on linen, and much more.

Larger artworks include Hugh Townley’s 81"x 39" mahogany sculpture Wendigo, as well as three smaller sculptures in mahogany and oak relief. Nancy H. Taplin presents gestural oils on rag paper that look like brightly colored calligraphy. José Benítez Sánchez’s yarn paintings are astounding to the eye. He presses brilliantly colored yarn into beeswax, making a psychedelic wonderland of archetypal symbolism that tell creation stories of his Huichol heritage in Central Mexico, like his 32" x 48.5" Peyote & Gourd Offerings Are Laid Out By Our Great Grandfather Deer Trail.

New to BigTown is artist Mark Goodwin. His six wood sculptures, some in walnut painted with milk paint, are tiny-- 7" to 12" tall -- yet appear monumental, like monoliths from another time. Goodwin also has wall-hung pieces. White Relief, 16"x10"x1", is a sculptural wall hanging in handwoven cotton, milk paint and beeswax. The piece looks like a slab of pottery, crisscrossed with a knife with bits of newsprint showing through. It too has a massive feel, like an ancient door. Moving Up, 29.5"x22", Goodwin’s largest work in the show, is done in milk paint and gouache. The colors, umber and black, and the forms, like cloistered figures, remind me of the 6th century BC reliefs I saw at caves in Cappadocia, Turkey. The painting looks to have been previously folded several times, as if it had been hidden for centuries and was now newly mounted.

Bhakti Zeik’s Night Slice, five Jacquard weavings, hang vertically on the wall. They are made with silk, tencel, bamboo, metallic gimp (that looks like woven gold leaf) and handmade lampas. They look astronomical, like star maps. Mark Mackay, a goldsmith, has made exquisite jewelry in gold and silver with semi precious stones. Christina Salusti’s ceramic cups, saucers and bowls are detailed with intricate antique decaling and 22k gold inlay. What an elegant teacup!

The BigTown Holiday Show runs until February 3. An open house on Sat, Dec 11 from 2-8 offers pianist Keith Bush performing at 4 p.m. On New Year’s Eve from 4 - 6 p.m. is a “warm-up” event featuring the gallery’s wish wall.

Images: Pat dipaula Klein, Dream of Wild Birds, 2010, 17.375 x 18.375", silk thread embroidery on linen; Mark Goodwin, Small Puzzle, 2010, 11.5 x 5.25 x 1.75, walnut, milk paint, wax