Sunday, May 8, 2011
Alchemically Yours (Pam Grossman; The Observatory; Visions of Golden Moons, Antimony and the Nix Alba)
[Robert M. Place "Caduceus" detail 2011]
Lobster & Canary attended last night's thronged opening at The Observatory in Gowanus (Brooklyn) of the Pam Grossman-curated art show, Alchemically Yours. Pam-- who is also the author of Phantasmaphile (a must-read blog; if you like L & C, you will like Phantasmaphile)-- has a luscious and graceful approach, with an unswerving ability to find and juxtapose "the beautiful detail" around a common theme. We especially like her talent for calling forth depths of emotion and mystical understanding from within a small ambit: the exhibit space at The Observatory is intimate, and the works selected by Pam are like narrow apertures into half-dark worlds where suns are twinned and manticores slide silently through thickets of silver-leafed trees.
This etching-- "Abraxas" by Marina Korenfeld (2004)-- called to me from across the room. Korenfeld is a relative newcomer, most definitely a talent to watch. Her early training included puppetry, which shows in the balanced, floating quality of her figures, in their lines and ranginess (she has a series of fish drifting above people and landscapes that epitomizes her "aeriality"). She calls on East European folklore and the works of Klee, she points to Eco, Borges, Hesse and Marquez as literary influences. She says on her website: "I deeply believe that only by delving into the enigmas of the self and moving the boundaries of your knowledge, can an individual truly engage with the world and bring about change in a profound, meaningful way. These are the principles my paintings are about, symbolized in my mystical blue bird, imaginary fishes, and flying women."
Other highlights included catching up in person with Adela Leibowitz, whom L & C interviewed February 10, 2010 ("Luminous Dreamscapes"). Adela's two paintings in this show are a departure for her, being close-ups of individuals, but they glow with the same force as her more expansive work.
Molly Crabapple has a piece in the show (a sort of Elvis character with devil horns crooning to a theater full of pigs in hats), likewise Sarah Antoinette Martin (whose work always feels alchemical to me). "Old Mistress" Ann McCoy has several stunning variations on her rose-bird themes-- I love her Pfauinsel installation from 2005, the story for which begins "In the reign of the endless winter the sun was a pale memory in the heavens and dark clouds covered the palaces of the East and the West."
Alchemically Yours is self-assured, vibrant, evocative. Much good to see and feel, plus a library of works on alchemy, and the usual eccentricity of The Observatory space (Oulipo "writhing" cheek by jowl with neo-Cornellian boxes, Victorian morbidity, odd taxidermy, specimens in jars, etc.).
Runs through June 12th-- highly recommended.