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Sunday, July 5, 1998
The New York Times

Two Shows: Frescoes and Landscapes



UNLIKE the Grim Reaper, the Great Gentrifier is selective about his victims, picking towns with signs of a prosperous past that can be converted into tourist attractions. One example is this pretty hamlet with a waterfront that, once a port of call for sidewheelers and cargo boats working the Hudson River, is now ye olde mini‑mall, complete with storefront galleries exhibiting contemporary art. Gentrification's incongruities are mild when compared with those perpetrated by the founding Surrealists but they are nonetheless significant for showing how the philosophy of the irrational, once cause for outrage, has become a part of daily life.

Conspicuous in this enclave of corporate cleanliness are the Piermont Flywheel and Allen Sheppard Galleries, each a white space with lighting strong enough to permit microsurgery.

The show in the first gallery, an artists' cooperative, is by Adele Myers, a nun at the Dominican convent in Sparkill who, with the sculptor David Weinrib, presided over its gallery, Thorpe Intermedia, until its demise in the early 1990's. A teacher of art at St. Thomas Aquinas College nearby, Sister Adele has produced ‑ but not yet installed ‑ a mosaic mural for Thorpe Village, the convent's housing project for the elderly.
As an artist, however, Sister Adele is something of a contradiction because she paints abstractions in the ancient medium of fresco on cement, which was discovered by the Romans but has since acquired industrial connotations. Her method is to model small to‑medium‑size reliefs, adding fresco selectively so that the result is not painted sculpture but rather sculpture enhanced by color (including the gray of the cement) and, like all balancing acts, it requires a sharp eye, agile mind and perfect timing.

Besides living up to its title, "Earth Dance/ River Dance" demonstrates all those qualities being an arrangement of two shimmering ribbons, shading from blue‑green to white and back. Entwined, the ribbons meander across an unpainted ground but not without interruption since the ground is divided into five slabs of equal size.


Different in character but no less successful are "Jesse" and "Sanctuary." The first is a slab of cement pierced with leaf‑shaped holes and laid like a stencil over a painting of leaves; the second is the modeled and painted image of a passage receding into the distance under Gothic arches ‑ a rare example of illusionism.

Sister Adele also includes small organic abstractions arranged in a vertical group, many of them barely touched with color, as well as one of her pancake‑like reliefs ‑‑ this in pale yellow turning green at the edges. Though full of high points, the show has a few uncertain moments. like the busy modeling in the unpainted reliefs and the artist's occasional use of acrylic paint. But the chief problem is a strung‑out installation combined with clinical lighting. Where is it written that the very pores in a work of art trust he instantly visible? The show closes next Sunday.

Relief Sculpture Freestanding Sculpture  Commissions
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