Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sweet abstractions

Paintings by Angela Wales Rockett at Amocat Cafe

“Dazed Spring.” A painting by Angela Wales Rockett
The Weekly Volcano, May 5, 2011

Drink in a little art with your coffee at Amocat Cafe, where throughout the month of May you can view paintings by Angela Wales Rockett.

Rockett's paintings are richly colored and expressively textured but very subdued abstractions inspired by landscape minus any overt references to land or water - with the one exception of a painting of the Tacoma Dome.

It has been a long-held belief of mine that abstract art should resonate with the forms and colors of nature without overtly referencing the appearance of actual objects (be they trees, ocean, human or animal or even man-made objects). If you're going to paint a tree, then paint a tree. But if you're going to make abstract art that attempts to capture the essence of a tree, don't paint the damn branches and leaves. That's a cheap concession to viewers who insist on something recognizable; it's gimmicky, and it perverts the intent and spirit of abstraction. That's why I don't like Rockett's "Tacoma Dome." Besides which, there's very little of interest in the shape, color and texture of that structure.

But enough about that. I truly like everything else in this show. When you sit at your table you might be tempted to overlook these paintings; there is nothing bombastic about them - no weird or sexy imagery or exciting colors, just simple and solid painting in muted tones that will grow on you if given a chance.

I like her use of color, mostly dark blues, black and white, with peek-a-boo slashes of brick red or dull orange or tan. Most of her colors are toned down. One gets the feeling of seeing bits of houses or barns or boats with scraps of paper and other debris blown about. We're viewing a world right after a storm.

All of her paintings are atmospheric. In many there is a sort of horizon line with turbulent soft forms at top and deeper tones toward the bottom - her only reference to sky, land and water, but just enough to create the needed resonance with nature.

"Equinox" has a jagged form in dark blue of the type Crayola calls "Midnight." It could be an oil platform or a wrecked ship. Its rough form is reflected in the calmer blue below.

There are subtly energetic scratches in the area at top and wet drips of paint below.
There are two small collages that work well. One has a slip of paper like some kind of ticket with Asian writing on it glued to a field of atmospheric blue. It's a nice painting, but the collage element separates from the rest too much. The other collage, "Lunar Phases," works better because the collage elements mesh more with the painted elements.

The best works in the show are those in a group of paintings with semi-opaque white painted over darker colors. The best of these is "Elks Lodge." Also very nice is a group of four smaller paintings, each about six inches square. These are more dramatic than the larger paintings, with more intense colors and stronger dark-light contrasts.
Angela Wales Rockett

Through May, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday
7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday– Friday
7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Amocat Cafe, 625 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma

No comments: