Friday, February 25, 2011

Going big with small

Selinda Sheridan show to benefit Nativity House

The Weekly Volcano, February 23, 2011
"Contour Intervals," by Selinda Sheridan, on display at Mineral in Tacoma

Selinda Sheridan's exhibition at Mineral, Contour Intervals, is a nice little show with a nice big purpose. From 2004 to 2008, Sheridan was the art coordinator at Nativity House, a daytime shelter for the homeless in Tacoma that operates an art room where guests may come to make art with materials that are provided for free. Sales from works in this show will be used to support that project.

While running the program at Nativity House, Sheridan began collecting blobs of paint that were left behind on palettes and blotting them with paper and then drawing back into the Rorschach-type blots with ink. At Mineral she has assembled these drawings - each about the size of a business card - into an installation that covers most of one wall. 

With a quick rough count I determine there are about 80 of these small drawings. The arrangement looks random, but it is not. An overall pattern emerges, and the little pictures are grouped together according to color schemes and similarity of shapes, etc. It is the title piece of the show. Seen as a single image this installation looks like a large grouping of topographical map sections. The individual pieces can be seen as mountains, rocks and lakes, or abstractly as an interweaving of soft color areas with meandering black lines.

To the left of this work are three small drawings in ink and acrylic, all delicate and simple landscapes.

Six larger framed pieces in Sumi, some with subtly added color, fill the rest of the small gallery space. These are more typical works with a decidedly Asian flavor. Most of them are derived from landscapes, with views of mountains, lakes and streams reduced to a few simple semi-abstract lines and shapes.

As I have often noted in my reviews, when natural elements are abstracted, the more abstract they are, the better they are. When objects taken from nature are included in what is essentially abstract art, these objects detract from the work and lessen its impact. But sometimes there are exceptions. In this instance, one of the best works has a picture of an apple in what is otherwise a completely abstract work. It is called After the Storm: Summer, a title that, so far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the imagery. Five odd, black, circular shapes march across the bottom of a white page, each touching the other, with one gap, and resting on top of the stack by the gap is a red apple. This work is all about contrasts of open and closed spaces, contrasts between color and black-and-white, and slightly off-kilter balance.

Another of the strongest works is a piece called Still Humming. It is a large dry-brush circle of black ink with a group of smaller and more clearly delineated circular forms like seeds or purple fruits clustered inside the circle. As in After the Storm: Summer, this one is all about contrasts and balance.

All of the works in this show are reasonably priced, and 100 percent of the income from sales will go to Nativity House.

Through March 26, noon to 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and by appointment
Mineral, 301 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma

No comments: