Sunday, January 23, 1994
Echos of Pre-Renaissance Italy and Crumbling Walls
By VIVIEN RAYNOR
OF the three Rockland County shows under review, the first is a joint effort by Sister Adele Myers and Todd Stone at the Blue Hill Cultural Center in Pearl River. The others are solos by Francesca Greene and Eric Laxman at, respectively, Piermont Flywheel and Piermont Fine Arts, two galleries adjoining each other at 223 and 218 Ash Street in Piermont Landing.
The Blue Hill exhibitors have in common an architectural approach but in all other respects are totally unalike. Sister Adele, a member of the Order of the Dominican Sisters at Sparkill, made her Rockland debut 15 years ago as founder and director of Thorpe Intermedia, the gallery at the convent. In 1991, she abandoned this project to pursue her career as a sculptor. Her abstractions may be described as reliefs ornamented with fresco or, alternatively, as frescoes applied to reliefs. Either way, their surfaces are expressionistic and their colors fresh.
Like its cousin concrete, cement is totally manmade and most people associate the material with industry or at least with the International style in architecture and, as far as I know, no one has ever waxed emotional over its color or texture. Yet to Sister Adele it "lends itself to expressive use" and seems, she says, not only to have "a life of its own" but also the "weight of human history." Less romantic observers may feel that these are qualities infused by the artist.
In any case, the images, never very large, look good in the rambling space at Blue Hill, especially those in which a balance is struck between raw and painted cement. "Nasu," a variant on the diagonal cross with arms shading from rusty red through pink to white and interstices of plain cement that are combed, troweled or left smooth, is just such a work. So is the row of chunky little plaques embossed with chevrons painted different colors.
Also pleasing is the chorus line of overlapping pancakes painted yellow tinged with blue. In "Stele I," however, the sculptor devotes her efforts to working the raw cement, piling it up in ridges and steps and confining her color to a single small vertical stripe of red and white.
A similar ratio of paint to cement obtains in "As the Sun in the Temple" but more successfully, because the shape is essentially a thick frame rectangular on the outside, circular within and broken diagonally in two. Inside is a smooth hemisphere of yellow‑orange and white. Sister Adele's expression is getting simpler and more powerful.
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