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weekend openings at dorsch, snitzer, and steinbaum

Post #289 • June 1, 2004, 8:45 AM • 6 Comments

George Bethea at Dorsch Gallery. Bethea switched from a tentative Impressionist style to a confident Fauvist one, and these paintings set up on the wall with brio.

Lucas Blanco at Dorsch. A recollection of Bay Area Figuration but with a subdued, sandy palette. Simple, convincing, authoritative, and pretty wonderful. I probably couldn't dislike these if I tried.

Alex Di Pietra at Dorsch. I found that her work, while competent, was unable to leave the orbit of Claudia Scalise, another Dorsch artist who puts painterly figures on minimal backgrounds.

Hernan Bas at Frederic Snitzer's new joint (recently ga-ga'ed over by Paige West). Despite having dismissed everything I've ever seen Bas do, these recent works show a command of color and material, and are charmingly creepy and likable.

Bhakti Baxter at Snitzer. Conversely, Baxter, whom I've praised, has abandoned his meditative arrangements of simple materials and started drawing like Hernan Bas circa last year. The results are a little disappointing. (There's a lot of glare on this. Sorry.)

Jacin Giordano at Snitzer. Does this boy do any bad paintings? I think I've liked everything I've seen by him.

Jiae Hwang at Snitzer. An increasingly Essenhigh-ish approach is helping her drawings, but I have to admit that my eyes start to glaze over when I see anime-inspired work these days. Overexposure, I guess.

Gean Moreno at Snitzer. One of my teachers said to me a long time ago that if I loved doodling, go be a champion doodler. Moreno is a champion doodler. I mean that both pejoratively and approvingly, emphasis on the latter.

Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery. A continuation of their theme of little well-dressed people walking through an alien world; it continues to be charming. (Glare bad.)



Mary Agnes

June 1, 2004, 10:21 PM

"little well-dressed people walking through an alien world" is a great description!



June 2, 2004, 1:21 AM

BOX had a great show as well.



June 2, 2004, 1:21 AM

BOX had a great show as well.



June 2, 2004, 1:29 AM

I heard, but I got lost trying to find it. I barely made it to Bernice's in time. Here's a link to Box. And thanks for the reminder to install that no-double-post script I've been contemplating.



June 2, 2004, 5:35 PM

The Snitzer show was the usual suspects doing their usual thing, with the possible exception of Baxter, whose ink on vellum drawings I liked better than you did. I first saw that sort of work from him at a recent New World School group show, and a number of his pieces there were better than the ones at Snitzer. I found them both lyrical and muscular, which is an interesting mix. What you said of Di Pietra relative to Scalise applies equally, or more so, to Bas relative to Elizabeth Peyton. Giordano's piece reminded me of a rather fussy, or fussed over, crafts project. I also couldn't help wonder how well, and how long, such work will hold up physically, given the materials and techniques used. I share your fatigue with anime, although I found it too slight and precious from the start. Moreno's piece reminds me of the obsessive, hyped-up, frenzied work I've seen by the mentally ill, particularly schizophrenics. That needn't preclude merit, but I wouldn't want to live with it.

Now for something else again: Lucas Blanco and George Bethea.

Blanco is still getting his MFA at UM, and he's a find (Hint: Buy now). He's a solid, assured painter, meaning he knows how to handle paint as such, so it can be experienced as a physical reality while remaining integrated into the overall concept of the work. In other words, his use of paint is tactile and rich without being crude, gimmicky or distracting. The paint is alive, but it's at the service of the piece as a whole--it knows its place. Blanco's color sense is exceptionally fine and probably his chief gift. It's clearly instinctive, distinguished by elegant balance, subtlety, and sophistication. He can get better, but he's already pretty good.

Bethea's landscapes are very French (he happens to be of French extraction), with echoes of Vlaminck, Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne, Dufy, and even an occasional hint of Corot in his handling of certain trees. The paintings in the show are mostly small format yet pack plenty of punch, with vibrant, exuberant colors that exhilarate but never lose coherence or spin out of control. There's a method to the wildness, and it works. But it's not all color, though that's what these paintings are chiefly, and beautifully, about. It's evident Bethea can draw, can handle line, which would seem to be a given but all too often isn't these days. Strong, mature work. Go see it.


Chris Ingalls

June 19, 2004, 2:31 AM

Franklin: referencing that "paragraph that got cut." Gezz, oh man, lying on the cutting room floor AGAIN! We already have the "5 minute Herald" and "Art Capsules." Lay down your scissors in protest of excessive brevity. Kidding aside, much obliged for your good intentions. "Hell is paved with good intentions, not with bad ones." George Bernard Shaw said and completed this with "All men mean well." Someone had to think so.

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