Rinklin's Otherworldly Landscapes Are Poised At Boundary of Tech and Tradition
By Greg Cook
Cristi Rinklin’s paintings are filled with forests and rocky outcroppings, with paths that seem to skirt the edges of glassy still ponds right before the water disappears.
That disappearing act and the way everything seems to float makes the dozen images in her exhibition “Displaced”—at Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, through Jan. 31—feel magical, otherworldly. The Boston painter’s woods can bring to mind the dreamy, misty hills and villages of traditional Chinese brush painting as well as the untamed, idealized American landscapes painted by 19th century realist artists affiliated with the Hudson River School.
But Rinklin’s realist scenes are vignettes floating amidst strands of flat, hard-edged cartoon clouds and soft-focus backgrounds that feel like images blurred in Photoshop. Step back a bit and Rinklin’s patterns, with their rich, subtly contrasting reds versus greens or blues versus oranges, evoke antique wallpapers or military camouflage.
Philosophically, Rinklin—whose work also will be featured in “Naturetech,” a group show opening at the Fitchburg Museum of Art on March 8—is involved in a post-modern project tugging at the nature of realism in a moment when everything is digitally photographed and then Photoshopped. Her paintings recycle pictures from paintings, wallpaper, Google images and collected photos. From this mélange, she produces paintings poised at the boundary of technology and tradition. It’s some of the best, most beautiful, most sensuous painting (she paints on impervious aluminum, which keeps her pigments slick and vibrant on the surface) you’ll see around these parts this year.
Rinklin has been exploring these motifs for years now. In the past, the sense of artificiality, of digital or cartoon confection was more pronounced. These new paintings make realist passages more prominent—and add an invitation to wander into these worlds.
That invitation—which can bring to mind the vicarious journeys through the misty hills of (again) Chinese landscape paintings or first-person video game adventures—is most pronounced in the trio of paintings “Specter 1, 2 and 3.”
The triptych invites you to wander trails that wind like M.C. Escher or Dr. Seuss constructions through realistic rust-orange trees and hills situated amidst flat turquoise clouds and red and turquoise blurs. It’s transporting—and a little disorienting—all the more so because Rinklin hangs the three paintings atop blue and gray wallpaper featuring similar motifs, which creates a hall-of-mirrors wow.
VOLTA NY is an invitational fair of solo-artist projects and is the American incarnation of the original VOLTA show, which was founded in Basel in 2005. VOLTA NY was conceived in 2008 as a focused, curated, boutique event that is a place for discovery. The exhibition showcases relevant contemporary art positions regardless of the artist’s or gallery’s age. By refocusing on artists through solo projects, VOLTA NY promotes a deep exploration of the work of its selected participants. These galleries must maintain deeply meaningful connections with their artists and follow them throughout their careers. In turn, invited galleries exhibit in an elegant venue, elevating their respective platforms for an experience mutually beneficial to fair visitors and the galleries alike.
In March 2015, VOLTA NY inaugurates its new home location at PIER 90 in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. The landmark move positions it adjacent to Piers 92 and 94, the longtime platform for its sister fair, The Armory Show, and the focal point of March fair season. Moving to PIER 90 allows for synergy between both fairs and their collector bases while retainingVOLTA NY's distinct character and rigorous curation — the foundation for VOLTA's mission since its 2008 debut.
VOLTA NY is a platform for challenging, often complimentary — and sometimes competing — ideas about contemporary art. Single-artist booths functioning more closely to proper exhibitions rather than traditional presentations proliferate the contemporary fair scene now. VOLTA NY has made solo projects its mandate and foundation from its inception in 2008, offering a prime opportunity to discover the practices of today's most salient artists while refocusing the art fair experience back to its most fundamental point: the art itself.
David X. Levine: The Beatles are Dull and Ordinary
January 20 – March 27, 2015Boston University's Sherman Gallery
The Beatles are Dull and Ordinary is a ten-year journey through the expressive and vibrant large-scale colored pencil drawings of New York-based artist David X. Levine. Levine’s drawings are spiritually subtle: slow to build, emerging through the lenses of pop culture and postmodernism. Stirring the mind, they thrive with shape, composition, and above all, vivid color.
Beginning as a poet in the 1980s, by 1990 Levine morphed into a visual artist with his poetry informing his visual art with subtlety, sensitivity and lyricism. Often taking his practice to physical extremes, Levine’s vivid, labor-intensive colored pencil drawings range in scale from the intimate to the monumental (10” to 10’). Incorporating abstract forms and patterns as well as collage relating to popular and high culture, Levine creates an illusory formal vocabulary that inhabits lushly optical spaces, generating rich associations that reach out beyond their compositional spaces. Levine’s drawings are very slow: slow to vision and thought, but they intensify with repeated viewing. All of the work has some kind of humor mixed in with its profound seriousness. The paradox of the slow but very exciting simultaneity is funny; the way life can seem mostly funny and deter complete understanding. Levine’s unfailingly optimistic drawings seem to have as their aim profound joy.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated color catalogue with an essay by Carl Belz, director emeritus of the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University.
The Sherman Gallery is located at 775 Commonwealth Avenue on the 2nd floor of the George Sherman Union. The gallery is located on the Boston University campus (BU Central T stop on the “B” Green Line.) Gallery hours are Tuesday–Friday from 11am–5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm–5pm.
Rinklin Alters Perceptions In A New Show At Zevitas Gallery
By Cate McQuaid
Spatial illusion is one of the most intoxicating tropes in art, and artists are not the only ones who use its ability to seduce. Today, we can spend all day in virtual worlds engineered to captivate, and never look out the window.
Cristi Rinklin’s terrific new paintings at Steven Zevitas Gallery continue her exploration of the power of space, cleverly shuffling ways in which it has been depicted through the centuries. She draws on sources that include Baroque paintings, Japanese landscapes, photographs, wallpaper, and images found online. She mashes them together in digital collages, which she then paints. Her colors are hyper; she jams deep space up against impenetrable flatness.
“Displaced” centers on a forest of fir trees along a glassy lake. The trees cast blurry reflections on the water’s surface — an electric blue, at once hot and cold. Similar blue areas waver along the edges of the painting. These might be clouds, but they are so unarticulated — just flat blue — that they snap us to the painting’s surface, and it’s as if we’re peering through cut glass down at wintry woods.
A third element plays between the trees and the clouds, in passages that shimmer with color and shadow, like crumpled silk. If the woods prompt a drop into landscape, these passages suggest a woozier descent into the unconscious. Rinklin’s varied expressions of space overlap and interrupt each other; what might be a cloud here is more an island there. She makes the magic of spatial illusion yet more mystifying.
The “Specter” series, a suite of three paintings, hangs against patterned wallpaper of mountains and clouds unfurling like ribbons, drawn with cartoony swagger. The paintings depict an attenuated red landscape, craggy rock faces, trees, and meandering paths, like Japanese landscapes. They entwine with the same flat electric blue and distant, romantic passages of color in “Displaced.”
It took me a while before I recognized that “Specter 1” and “Specter 3” are, like the wallpaper, patterned, with the same trees and rocks cycling through. This offers yet another layer to Rinklin’s intoxicating, elusive world: Experience repeats, maybe endlessly. It’s the gauzy hint of nightmare, lurking in dreamland.
Ann Tobbe | "Remarried"
By Roberta Smith
At once familiar and slightly bizarre, Ann Toebbe’s meticulous collages belong to the stay-at-home intimist tradition that begins with Édouard Vuillard’s Parisian interiors. For several years she has cut up bits of colored paper to recreate — with help from photographs and memory — the domestic interiors of her life and of the people around her. For her solo debut at this gallery in 2013, she recreated her childhood bedroom, and rooms inhabited by relatives and neighbors she knew growing up in Cincinnati.
“Second Wife,” a 2014 Ann Toebbe collage using gouache and cut paper, is at the Monya Rowe Gallery.
Now Ms. Toebbe’s focus has shifted to adulthood and the homes created or dispersed as she and those around her marry or divorce and remarry. Thus she depicts the places she and her husband have lived, but also his home during his first marriage as well as the current home of his first wife, now in her second marriage. The successive homes of her husband’s parents, when they were married and after they divorced and married others, receive similar treatment.
A weird architectural family tree unfolds. As with her previous efforts, both craft and details boggle the mind. So does trying to decipher everything, since each space is depicted from five orientations — that is, from above with each wall in elevation, like a pop-up dollhouse. Which way’s up? Spatial tensions become entwined with emotional histories that we can only imagine but that are invariably told from conflicting perspectives. Ms. Toebbe’s interest in the home front is shared with contemporary painters like Sarah McEneaney and Jonas Wood, as well as the outsider genius James Castle. It is a subject that never stops giving.
Steven Zevitas Gallery is thrilled to be presenting a solo exhibition of new works by San Francisco-based artist, James Sterling Pitt, at UNTITLED in Miami. The booth will consist of eight new sculptures and a suite of Pitt’s notational drawings, from which the sculptures arise.
UNTITLED will be open to the public from December 3 – 7.
Please visit us at Booth #A04 if you are in Miami. We look forward to seeing you.
With Artist Franklin Evans, An Immersive Experience
By Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe, November 18, 2014
To read the full review online, click here.
Franklin Evans drops viewers into his own weird wonderland. Once you’re down the rabbit hole, you may be as awed and dismayed as Alice herself.
Evans has two shows up now, at Montserrat College of Art Gallery and Steven Zevitas Gallery. Walk into his installation at Montserrat, and it’s like stepping inside a painting. Colors and lines are everywhere: on walls, on the ceiling and floor; in corridors of vertical strips of colored tape. The same is true, on a more modest scale, at Zevitas.It’s breathtaking, and daunting. With his hues and gestures, with his art-history references, the artist solidly places us within the rubric of painting. But with most paintings, the viewer regards a discrete object. This one swallows us up. It is much bigger than us, but there are tiny things in it, such as texts too small to read. The effect discombobulates.
Evans engulfs us in his process, too. He starts with writings by minimalist icon Donald Judd, who was a critic attuned to technique. Snippets of Judd’s reviews appear throughout both shows, and provide launching points for Evans’s painterly meditations. For instance, Judd describes in detail an abstract work of squares within squares, orange at the center and gray on the edges.
High on one wall at Montserrat, Evans has a painting that fits that description. At Zevitas, several discrete paintings, all on unstretched canvas, accompany the installation, and in one, “circumjacentoffsetloweredgeredorangeochergray,” the same color scheme arises in a jittery patchwork of images. Although painted, they look photocopied or scanned, groggily blinking with references to artists such as Matisse and Sigmar Polke.
The installations, too, roil with art-history rumination. We’re not just inside Evans’s painting, we’re inside his imagination, which roams compulsively from his childhood to his art idols to naked people, and more.
The artist searches the Internet for images of his paintings, or those of others, and prints them out, no matter the quality. He recycles pictures of previous installations. In his paintings, he may start with a small reproduction of a fraction of a painting by, say, Polke (“polkedots,” at Zevitas). He’ll zoom in and reproduce repeatedly, then paint what he sees.
In the paintings, the result is clever and visually exciting, but half-chewed, as if Evans hasn’t quite integrated his art-history lessons. The installations, while brimming with historical imagery, crackle with originality. They demonstrate how one man’s overflowing mind reflects two great rushing rivers of culture — art history and the whitewater of the Internet.
Shows that paint outside the lines, and one that sticks to the script
Boston Globe | By Cate McQuaid | View Online
Two refreshing solo painting shows up now in adjacent galleries have much in common, but wander down wildly different paths.
Mary Bucci McCoy, at Kingston Gallery, and Jered Sprecher, at Steven Zevitas Gallery, make mostly small, mostly abstract works. Bucci McCoy’s delicately toned and textured paintings read like haiku: swift, elusive, ripe. Sprecher’s much denser, hotter-toned works display an exuberant virtuosity: He cuts up, sorts, and juggles forms; he layers veils of pigment. Small as his works are (the paintings on linen are 11-by-8 inches), they are deep, whereas Bucci McCoy’s are more wide open.
Sprecher doesn’t start abstract: He uses a photo of pigeons nesting along a cliff as source material. You can see the birds in some larger paintings on paper at the back of the gallery. He painted each methodically from left to right, from top to bottom. This system puts equal weight on every mark, so although these works are pictorial, the picture seems incidental to the accrual of small dabs and swipes. They swing deliciously from image to abstraction.
For the smaller paintings, the artist chopped up photocopies of his pigeon photo and made collages, which he re-created in oil paint. The birds can be discerned in only one of these works, “Pigeons,” in which we see a plump green silhouette, with the fluff of the wing feathers accentuated, but again the image seems incidental to the spark and flow of abstract painterly fireworks: down-rushing smears of gray and yellow, a narrow curtain of hot pink on one side.
Knowing the birds are there, if only in fragments, you might start to look for them. Is that the curve of a breast in “Invention of the Chair”? And maybe the stony face of the cliff along the bottom?
But this painting hinges on the thick, flat bars crossing one another, in black with great gaps of orange, over a changeable orange and red ground. The violently colliding bars have heft, but they vanish. There’s a broad passage of dun in the background at the top, a bland banner. Sky blue brushes lightly over the surface.
Sprecher plays tricks with space and surface; he makes bold marks and dainty ones. There’s so much going on in a relatively small space, it’s as if he’s deftly answering in paint the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Boston Globe, November 12, 2013 by Cate McQuaid <Link to Original>
Low Key Charm
James Sterling Pitt’s sweetly humble show of drawing/painting/sculpture hybrids at Steven Zevitas Gallery features fairly small works made of carved wood and acrylic paint. Most of them have white borders with colored lines bumping and intersecting within them, often with two or three layers to add dimension. Their lines waver like those in an arch New Yorker cartoon; their edges are as pleasingly white as confectioner’s sugar.
“Untitled (Sand/Sea – Alameda)” contains within that white rectangle a front grid in yellow beige and a rear one in sunny blue. The grids match up only loosely, so blue peeks through yellow squares; they look syncopated. These pieces have a low-key charm, but the tensile possibilities of the lines never quite take off.
Occasionally, Pitt swaps out his carved wooden lines for wires strung with little painted wooden tabs, as in “Untitled (‘Bittersweet’ – 11-3-12),” which features imperfect orange circles dotting the wire. These pieces feel frothier and freer. The dots seem to dance and quiver; the wire slopes haphazardly from one side to the other. It looks like an abacus made by a first-grader, and has a freshness that Pitt seems to strive for, but not quite achieve, with his exclusively wooden works.
Pitt’s pieces attempt to capture events in his life, so you might say they have an underground narrative that we’re not entirely privy to. Background materials mention an encounter the artist had with a white peacock and later appearances of the bird’s image that led him to ascribe meaning to it. But filtering that meaning through abstract art makes it difficult for us to catch it on the other end. We can only look at the works through the rubric of art.
"Delightfully Unsettling" by Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe, July 30th, 2013
Summer is the season for group shows. “Why Am I So Awkward” at Steven Zevitas Gallery homes in on an aesthetic that characterizes many exhibitions there. One wall has been given over to Peter Opheim’s portraits of odd clay figures he builds in his studio, such as “Untitled (#207),” a giant head made of stacked rings of blue and red, perched on two stubby little feet and dangling two fleshy pink arms like uncooked hotdogs.
Opheim’s loose brushwork seems to make space for and caress his misfits. Chuck Webster’s often smudgy paint application expresses much in his untitled abstraction, as do the broad curves and creases around a big white proboscis lodged painfully between two yellow planes, and hanging over a sea of royal blue. Shapes seep and sneak from behind a curvilinear form in scruffy beige. It’s delightfully unsettling. Then there’s David X Levine’s “She Knows Me So Well,” another abstraction in colored pencil, in which a triangle and two jutting arcs creep shyly from the bottom into a vibrant field of blue, as if undeserving but happy to be there.