Thursday, September 19, 2019

More than meets the eye at 950 Gallery
by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 19, 2019
Klimt's "Judith II"
Paintings from Lynette Charters’ Missing Women Series have been shown in eight different gallery shows in the past year, with more to come, including a one-woman showing in a Los Angeles gallery scheduled for next year. It is tempting to say enough is enough, we get it. The Missing Women concept is clever and meaningful — bigger and more important than the individual paintings — and never before has Charters had an opportunity to show the paintings in a way that brings home the heart of the concept.

The exhibition space at 950 Gallery is turned into a mock museum complete with mock museum lighting, viewing benches and do-not-get-too-close areas marked off on the floor. There is even talk of the artist’s husband, a professional actor John Serembe, appearing at the opening as a museum docent and a gift shop in the lobby selling refrigerator magnets (every museum must have its gift shop). And there will be a 10-minute video.
This mock museum setting highlights approximately 30 of Charters’ paintings, each of which is a takeoff on a famous painting of a woman or women (most nude or partially nude). There is Tiepolo’s “Woman with a Mandolin,” Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Yves Klein's "Petite Bleue," Picasso’s “Seated Girl on a Beach,” de Kooning’s “Woman,” Felix Vallotton's "The White and the Black," Klimt's “Judith ll” and many more.
The clever bit that makes them stand out is that the women’s bodies are not there. Their clothing and their surroundings are painted on wood panels in almost exact duplication of the originals, which they simultaneously honor and disparage, but their bodies are left as unpainted wood. The painting is strategically placed on the wood in such a way that knots in the wood become eyes and nipples. The paintings are done with plaster and acrylic and collaged candy wrappers.
Vallotton's "The White and the Black"
The Guerrilla Girls famously posed the question, "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" and followed up with, "Less than four percent of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 76 percent of the nudes are female." This is the point Charters drives home relentlessly in this series of paintings. “I hope to highlight how women are presented but not represented in art, society and history and how the accomplishments of women are often uncompensated and unrecorded,” Charters says in a wall statement.
At first glance, the paintings, not withstanding the missing body parts, look like exact duplicates of the originals; but there are significant and intentional differences, some for comedic comment and some for aesthetic purposes. Her most recent painting, done specifically for this show and much larger than any of the others, is Klimt’s “Judith II.” The original is framed by wooden strips; in Charters’ version those strips become elaborate patterns of gold foil made from candy wrappers. In her version of “The Girl with the Pearl Earring,” the earring is the familiar cone shaped Hershey’s Kiss (but with no chocolate inside). In Vallotton's “The White and The Black,” the background is a solid color with few brushstrokes showing, but in Charters’ version is it painted with strong slanting strokes that mimic the grain on the wood in the women’s bodies. Almost every painting in the show has some such change that can easily be overlooked. Look for them; you’ll be glad you did.
There will be an artist’s reception Thursday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m., and informal chat with the artist from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 5, and  closing reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 17 with a performance at 7 p.m.

The Missing Women series, 1-5 p.m. Thursdays and by appointment, 1-9 p.m. Third Thursday, 950 Gallery, 950 Pacific Ave. Suite 205, Tacoma, 253.627.2175,

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