Thursday, April 22, 2010

Art Critic Greg Cook Reviews: "New Life"- at the Spot on Thayer

Making the rounds

New exhibits at the Spot and AS220
By GREG COOK  |  April 21, 2010
DELICATE LINES Hames’s “Town of Monhegan.”
For some time, the founders of the Spot — Josh Fulford (now technical director), Kevin Blanchette (director of operations), and Nick Cardi (gallery director) — weren’t sure what to call the venue they were creating in a roomy second floor space at 286 Thayer Street. Talking on the phone, they’d say things like, “I’m over at the spot.” Finally they realized they could just call it that.
Part of the difficulty in deciding on a name was the range of activities they aimed to offer. They began with yoga classes in April 2007; that August, they presented their first art show. That fall they brought in Josh Willis (artistic director) and Spogga (music director). These days they also offer comedy, dance classes, poetry slams, and the occasional rock opera. The Spot’s MySpace page announces: “More than just a building, a gallery, a school, a home. It is a Force of Nature. It is an Engine of Kinetic Energy.”
As far as visual art is concerned, you can feel that moxie, though the art itself is still developing. The Spot offers a pair of quirky halls that sprout smaller nooks and crannies. Windows and architectural details divide up the walls and can cramp 2D work, but the large rooms flatter sculptures and installations.
Cranston sculptor Michael Green takes advantage of this, installing an arc of tall wide strips of heavy, ribbed translucent plastic — the sort of stuff they use for loading docks — that cascade down from the ceiling and curl across the floor. A light inside, near the ceiling, makes it shine blue, purple, orange, yellow — echoing the Spot’s funky nightclub vibe. The sculpture looks sort of like a giant plastic jellyfish or a waterfall. In a particularly lovely touch, the sculpture hides a fountain built into the wall behind, and you can hear the unseen water trickling.
Through mid-May, Green’s sculptures are paired with prints by Harrison Love. After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in illustration from RISD in 2008, Love spent a year in Peru, including, he says, four months living with the Shipibo, Warani, and Ashaninca tribes in the Amazon. Now living in Stonington, Connecticut, he is illustrating a book he is writing inspired by the old myths of these tribes. In his linocuts, visionary scenes are rendered in workmanlike compositions. Birds soar over a clearing in a forest. A person perches in a tree filled with birds. Men with spears gaze into the mouth of a large dark cave and the walls inside resemble a pile of rocky skulls.
Green and Love are the focus this month, but works from previous shows linger, like an installation Brooke Mullin Doherty of New Bedford, Massachusetts, put up last year. She fills the ceiling of a lounge-nook at the end of one room with gold fabric that drapes down from a red wire armature. It’s luxurious and consuming, and seems like the frilly gold train of an evening gown grown out of control. New Bedford artist Jeremy Rudd’s sculpture Concentric is a six-foot-tall ball of wooden pieces that seem to interlock like gears. Giselle Corre of Providence turns shallow reliefs of polymer clay into depictions of sunny psychedelic childlike dream gardens.
Meanwhile at AS220’s Main Gallery (115 Empire Street, through April 24), Mary Snowden and Lauraberth Lima offer chickens and risqué vegetables.
Snowden’s photo-realist paintings of chickens bring out the ruddy details — a Spanish chicken, with its black body, white face, and fleshy red comb and cheeks. The birds could feel more alive, but Snowden nails their threatening alien stare.
Lima makes mixed media montages from photos and magazine fashion shots, sometimes finished off with patterned mask-like drawings on top. Her best work is witty and surprising, likeAnatomy, which shows an arrangement of vegetables, including a twinned carrot that, looked at with the right frame of mind, resemble a pair of orange legs with a root growing between.
While you’re there, check out the back room at AS220’s Project Space (93 Mathewson Street), where Seamus Hames presents a series of small delicate black-and-white pen drawings. With fine lines shaded by hazes of tiny dots and hatching, he envisions folksy cartoony landscapes: a town nestled in a verdant valley or great cliffs rising above an ocean shore and a little boat steadfastly chugging out to sea.  
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Harrison M. Love was born, in Bedford New York, in 1985. Harrison began his art education at an early age under the tutelage of his family who have a long standing connection to the arts. In 1991 the Love family moved to Brussels Belgium, where Harrison began his formal studies in the arts, at the International School of Brussels (ISB). After returning to the U.S., Harrison continued his art education at the Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut, utilizing their large cast* collection for his early studies. Early work from Harrison's high-school portfolio was submitted to the 2004 Scholastic Art competition, where Harrison Love became the most awarded student artist in CT state Scholastic history that year, winning five gold keys for his portfolio as well as the honor of his major work, "A Changed World" (an illustrated accordion style book), being named "Best in Show." The book was later sent to the national gallery in washington where it was further awarded a silver metal. Harrison went on to advance his art education at the Rhode Island School of Design and worked at Brown University for three years on the Harkonnen Program, which was later featured on the Discovery Channel in a special about innovative media.  While attending RISD, Harrison worked extensively in advertising abroad, in Tokyo and in Shanghai. After graduating in 2008, Harrison Love surprised everyone and began a solo expedition to remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon jungle, to study the cultural heritage of tribes living in seclusion, specifically the Ashaninca, Waorani, and Shipibo tribes. The specific purpose of study was to research the remote tribal customs of the oldest surviving tribes in the Amazon,  living near uncontacted tribes close to the Brazilian border (these tribes made international news in 2008 on BBC, while Harrison had already begun his expedition.) In June of 2009, Harrison returned from the Amazon to his family home in Connecticut, where he began preparing his artwork and research for galleries throughout the east and west coasts.  Harrison Love is currently living in San Francisco, CA where he is working on larger more complicated partnerships in the arts.