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  • Cristi Rinklin Boston Globe Review

    Rinklin Alters Perceptions In A New Show At Zevitas Gallery
    By Cate McQuaid
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    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.

  • Boston Globe Review of Franklin Evans, juddpaintings

    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.

    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.

  • Jered Sprecher in the Boston Globe

    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.

  • James Sterling Pitt in the Boston Globe

    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.

  • Ann Pibal in the Boston Globe

    What's Up At Boston-Area Galleries, April 16, 2013
    By Cate McQuaid

    Link to Article Online

    Each of Ann Pibal’s succinct abstract paintings moves the eye nimbly over the picture plane. Sharp angles, crisp lines, sometimes tangy color values, and, in her most recent pieces, breathy brushwork all portray a quizzical intent. She’s like a physicist scribbling equations over a white board, puzzling out vital, small-scale unknowns.

    But her methodical equations, in the acrylic-on-aluminum paintings now on view at Steven Zevitas Gallery, have a graceful simplicity you don’t see on many white boards: straight lines, intersections, and little trolley-like loafs of color that ride along the lines, adding up to a system of weights and balances.

    Look at “EXTS,” in powdery gray-blue and red. The red lines could almost map a small downtown area, with five shooting off at clean angles from a central horizontal stripe. Some of them carry freight: lean black bars, flat sandwiches of beiges and browns. A fat, red bar streaks across the top. At the bottom, a second red bar doesn’t quite reach the right border. It aborts with an alarming ragged tear. Amid the rest of the perfectly straight edges here, it’s like a pimple on a model’s face.

    Pibal’s paintings, like those of Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts, are resolutely controlled. At times, they feel arid and confined. So it’s daring when she introduces the painter’s hand, as she does in several works here. “THFR” features more straight lines, with several candy-colored ones peeling upward, splintering from their central arteries. Pibal sets them against a gray ground, painted in wide, lush strokes, tinged with color. That ground reads as a driving rain, and opens the painting to space, drama, and heart.

    Works like these are no less precise, but the artist pits that exactness against something less about motion, and more about emotion — which may just blow these delicate constructions of lines and intersections right down.

  • Boston Globe Review: The Space in Between

    Galleries around Boston: ‘The Space Between’ and beyond - By Cate McQuaid, July 24, 2012

    Last summer, Steven Zevitas Gallery mounted a crackerjack show, “Not About Paint,” that examined how painting has lately flirted, danced, and occasionally mated with sculpture. Now Zevitas offers a buzzy companion exhibition, “The Space in Between,” which addresses artists experimenting with a host of technical processes, including photography.

    It is a more contemplative, less antic show. Little intrudes on the viewer’s space. A couple of projectors sit on the floor, and Zevitas has built a darkened video room, but the projected works — painterly videos by Colin Snapp and the team of Dave Miko and Tom Thayer — promote quiet, intimate engagement.

    Miko and Thayer’s “A Figure’s Strange Triggered Change” features video projected onto an aluminum panel, which sports painted marks that relate to passages in the video. The projected images verge on abstract; they’re shadowy and overexposed, saturated with color that pings off the aluminum. Its low-to-the-ground installation encourages the sense that you’ve happened on an animated hieroglyph with hallucinogenic color and hints of narrative.

    Mariah Robertson and Tamar Halpern use darkroom techniques to create abstractions, such as Robertson’s lush “85,” which drifts with a drippy teal grid over white, interrupted by a black curtain shot with tiny lightning bolts. Ned Vena’s untitled piece made out of adhesive and vinyl on two steel doors looks like an Op Art painting. Lines converge into shimmering swells that imply volume. Sam Moyer’s large ink-on-canvas piece, also untitled, could be a photo of the surface of black water. In fact, Moyer crumpled her canvas to create that rich surface, before mounting it on a wood panel.

    There’s nothing new about artists experimenting with techniques; it’s in the job description. The point is that it breaks down boundaries between mediums we have in the past seen as inviolable. Even so, painting ultimately provides the DNA for all these works; everything refers back to the plane and surface of a canvas, and the illusion of depth.

    Full Review Online