Tuesday, April 6, 2010

REVIEW: Sally Linder at the Firehouse Gallery in Burlington

By Darby Parsons

Sally Linder’s exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery, Pilgrimage: Remote and Inner Landscapes, gives the viewer an opportunity to understand a local, yet internationally renowned artist’s talents and passions. On display at the Firehouse Gallery from April 2 to May 1 are various acrylic paintings, ink drawings, and multimedia works. The chosen pieces are divided into two groups and rooms: the inner landscapes and the remote landscapes. All of Linder’s work serves to remind viewers of their personal bodily life and/or their physical relationship to and presence on the earth.

Sally Linder may be best known for her Ark of Hope. The Ark is on display in the center of the Firehouse’s main room. A large trunk made of light colored wood, The Ark is painted in aboriginal style with animals and vividly colored natural themes. It houses The Earth Charter, a document calling for worldwide cooperation and peace focusing on the earth and our environment. The Ark is filled with homemade books of every hue and color. Wherever Sally Linder has gone -- from children’s classes in Europe to villages of Africa -- she has taken the opportunity to show the local culture the Ark and ask for a contribution of art to add. Each book is to be opened and enjoyed in its own right. The Ark itself has multiple stories to tell as many of its books show.

The rest of the remote landscapes surround The Ark. From the Pelvis Series there are two large ink drawings painted over in subdued greens and pinks, emotional portraits of an intimate bone. In several multimedia pieces from the Manifest Destiny Series, Linder employs drawing, paint, and cloth to wrap Native American spirituality with

the American flag. A large acrylic painting called Patches on a Shamans Cloak abstractly melds the rear skeletal view of a human form with that of a bird in flight. The piece pulls you in from afar and holds you close as you distinguish more and more detail in the abstracted forms.Three large paintings show South African settlements nearly dissolving into their surrounding natural landscapes.

The inner landscapes include a cluster of acrylic paintings on twenty-six small to medium sized canvases called Skipping Stones. Each individual abstraction uses earth tones layered with more vibrant colors to evoke a sense of something familiar lurking just beneath the surface: two fish, a face winking, a familiar staircase from childhood. The overall effect is emotional and personally touching, and we easily see ourselves in these paintings. Even the titles have a personal, intimate quality: Whirligig, Bartholomew Cubbins, Wink. There are two large acrylic abstracts from Linder’s Metamorphosis Series: Transference and Winged Migration blend and meld colors together into vaguely familiar images. The large triptych Homage to Shostakovich Opus 110 is less abstract than the other inner landscapes, and the colors are softer. Very loose, flowing lines build into more complex images that suggest the inner process of this composer.

Sally Linder's compassion for the earth and its many inhabitants is conveyed in the most human of expressions in both her abstract and realistic renderings. The rich stories Linder tells in this exhibit are impressive and truly awe inspiring. Don't miss this show.

Images- top: Skipping Stones

middle: Luminous Beings

below: Diepsloot, South Africa