Monday, October 19, 2015

Another Pop-up Show at B2

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 15, 2015

“Transformation” oil on canvas by Anna Hoey, courtesy B2 Gallery.
B2 Gallery is jam-packed with art for its fall pop-up show. Pop-ups? What are they anyway? It’s a new thing instituted at B2 this summer where between the main or regular shows they have exhibitions that are up for a shorter duration and sometimes with art that is priced more reasonably. They’re like the B-team, even though artists such as Becky Frehse are definitely A-team all the way. Some of the others may be seen a B-team artists who are ready to step up to the A-team such as sculptor Alan Newberg.
Newberg’s massive carved-wood sculptures are sensuous. His “God of Black Holes: Up Looks Down” is a huge, dark abstract bird shape that dominates the front room of the gallery. His “Natural Urges” is a soaring form atop a polished-metal pyramid base that blends smooth, carved shapes with convoluted forms of wood in its natural state. These are outstanding. He is also showing a number of paintings in a pop-art style based on images from the book Weegee's New York: Photographers 1935-1960.  These paintings harken back to early American works by artists such as Guy Pène du Bois and George Luks. They’re a bit too crudely painted with garish red frames.
Anna Hoey’s oil paintings of people wearing masks are fierce and beautifully rendered. One of the more fascinating aspects to these paintings is that the faces of the mask wearers can be partially seen beneath the masks, and these faces are youthful, soft and gentle in marked contrast to the masks. I counted thirteen of these pictures, including a drawing in graphite and colored pencil called “Breaking Barriers” picturing a nude somewhat awkwardly seated within an oval mirror with a rope frame, all in black and white except for two thin red lines and the woman’s bright red lips. This one is beautifully composed.
Frehse, the only well-known Tacoma artist in the show, has three large paintings in the center gallery. They are abstract-expressionist depictions of musicality using primarily rhythmical repetition of shapes to represent music. The only recognizable objects are drums, cymbals and triangles in a painting called “Ensemble.” These are great paintings  I so wish B2 would feature more of her work.
"Adrianople" by Brian Fisher, monotype print  with gold leaf. Photo courtesy B2 Gallery.
Some of the most impressive work in the show can be seen in a group of four Brian Fisher monotypes and  a similar group of rust monotypes also by Fisher, some with gold leaf, on the theme of the Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts. All of these combine strong, graphic linear elements laid on top of or intertwined with flat shapes of solid color representing men and boats. These works are minimalist and dramatic. They remind me a lot of Michael Spafford’s powerful paintings of similar themes, but they are more decorative and delicate.
I was told that Fisher was a student of Ilse Reimnitz, who is represented in this show with stylistically similar monoprints and acrylics of flowers and figures. Her influence on Fisher is clear, but based on these few works I venture to say the pupil has eclipsed the teacher. I do admire her use of multiple overlapping transparencies and soft colors.
Also showing  are seascape paintings by Karla Fowler; realistic but bland paintings of birds and other animals by Bill O. Walcott (the best being a picture of a bunch of chickens); and overly cluttered fauvist city scenes with strange animals by Bethany Woodward.
This is an interesting show, uneven but with a lot to see.
Fall Pop Up at B2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, till 9 p.m. Third Thursdays, through Oct. 24, 711 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, 253.238.5065.


Alan Newberg said...

Thank you for reviewing the Fall Pop-up Show at B2 Gallery. Glad to hear your responses to my work. Obviously, you like the sculptures better than the paintings. One clarification. The paintings are inspired by and refer to vintage original Weegee prints from my personal collection, not reproductions in any book.

Alec Clayton said...

Sorry for the mix-up, Alan. Gary showed me the Weegee book and said the paintings were based on Weegee photos, so I guess I made an assumption.