Thursday, July 4, 2019

Paintings by Lois Beck at Allsorts Gallery

 By Alec Clayton

“Beta” monoprint by Lois Beck
Allsorts Gallery is featuring works by Olympia artist Lois Beck in their latest. There are 22 works in the show, all works on paper of modest size. Most are monoprints or collages. Typically, Beck cuts monoprints into various shapes and collages them onto other monoprints that are used as background. A few of these include narrow strips of printed paper that are woven in and out across the surface to create hard-edged patterns over more amorphous backgrounds.

Overall her prints and collages have the look of what would be the very best works to be created in a college art department design class or perhaps abstract art from the early years of abstraction—works from artists such as Miro, Kandinski or Klee, with some hints of Abstract Expressionism.

There is a lot of variety in style from an early landscape that is not at all abstract, a rarity among these pieces, to one called “String Theory” that reminds me of Duchamp’s “Network of Stoppages,” to a little piece called “Dune” that is as minimalist as anything you’re likely to see these days.

The ones with the woven strips of paper play with spatial relationships and with contrasts between the sharp edges and the more amorphous shapes. In some of them,  woven checkerboard or kitchen-tile patterns appear to hover above the more atmospheric backgrounds.

“String Theory” is a complex composition and one of the most interesting pieces in the show. There are rough, jagged lines that look, like strings that have been held above the surface and dropped to create random lines in random places on a dark background, as in Duchamp’s “stoppages.” Intermingled with these are geometric shapes that look like cellular images seen a microscope — some but not all are round. All of this is in black, white and gray. The similarities and slight differences between the string-like lines and the “cellular images” are striking, and the whole thing seems alive with static movement.

“Dune” is a lovely construction of either a.) two black lines of varying weight on a red-ochre field or b.) a single such line that goes out of the picture plane and curves back into it. It is impossible to tell which, which is part of the print’s charm.

“Unfolding” is a hand-printed collage with a network of dark bars that taper in width like neckties and go top-to-bottom over a background upon with are drawn abstract figures in white over gray. The interaction of the neckties and the background figures is fascinating as diagonal stripes across the ties continue the lines of the figures in just barely enough places to unite figure and ground.

Openings at Allsorts are casual and enjoyable social events with a terrific spread of snacks. Olympia owes John and Lynette Charters Serembe a debt of thanks for periodically turning their home into an art gallery.

WHAT  Paintings and monoprints by Lois Beck
WHEN 5-7 p.m. July 11-13 and 19-20, artist reception July 14, 4-7 p.m.
WHERE All Sorts Gallery, 2306 Capitol Way S, Olympia
LEARN MORE,  (323) 254-6220

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