Apr 9, 2014
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.
Nov 14, 2013
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.
Jul 31, 2013
"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.
Jun 22, 2013
Apr 16, 2013
What's Up At Boston-Area Galleries, April 16, 2013
By Cate McQuaid
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.
Feb 27, 2013
Jan 9, 2013
Dec 26, 2012
Best shows of 2012 in Boston-Area Art Galleries by Cate McQuaid
"For his exhibit at Steven Zevitas Gallery, Peter Opheim painted figures he had built out of clay. The large-scale paintings made something cute and toy-like confrontational and strange, articulated in loose, sometimes aggressive strokes. Opheim set some of his blobby people in pairs and groups, suggesting sex and other activities, unnervingly blending themes of childhood and adulthood."
Dec 17, 2012
December 14th - January 26th, 2012
Reception: Friday, January 4th, 5:30 pm
White’s hard-won paintings arrive from the artist’s rigorous engagement with painting’s most basic elements: color, shape and composition. In her recent work, White has moved towards eliminating value contrast. The resulting paintings are nearly monochrome, yet, paradoxically, the move has led to images that have a more ambiguous and deeper space. Also new to this body of work is the introduction of curved forms into White’s traditionally hard-edged pictorial vocabulary. As White states:
“Through wrangling with simple abstract forms and color, I am finding a new complexity and different emotive range. I am continuing to try to understand and to develop the contradiction of a painting as nearly depicting a pictorial space while remaining entirely abstract.”
Allowing for viewers to have an immediate relationship with her work has always been of paramount importance to White. The twelve paintings that comprise New Work are among the largest White has made to date, yet, at an average of 10 x 8 inches, they are still extraordinarily intimate works that set up a personal conversation with the viewer.
White’s work has been exhibited extensively since the late-1990s. Solo exhibitions include a 2011 show at Jancar Jones Gallery in Los Angeles; the gallery will present her work again in 2013. Group exhibitions include shows at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and The Art Museum of Los Gatos. This is White’s first exhibition at Steven Zevitas Gallery.
The artist will be in attendance for an opening reception on Friday, January 4th from 5:30 – 8:00 PM. For additional information, please contact Steven Zevitas at 617.778.5265 (ext. 22). Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM – 5 PM.
Nov 9, 2012
Nov 8, 2012
A few words and installation shots on the New American Paintings Blog...
Michael Krueger’s Fluorescent West: Drawings & Animation at Zevitas, features the largest work by the artist to date. In addition, Zevitas notes in his Press Release that, “There are two notable changes with this body of work: firstly, unlike much of his earlier work, the human figure is now absent, thus making the landscape the sole bearer of content; secondly, while colored pencil continues to be Krueger’s dominant medium, his newest work also utilizes watercolor and acrylic paint.” The full release can be found on the gallery website, here.
Oct 26, 2012
Now on view at the Steven Zevitas Gallery...
Fluorescent West brings together six new works on paper, the largest Krueger has executed to date, as well as his first animation for a gallery exhibition. (Krueger recently contributed fifteen animations to the documentary, Drop City.) There are two notable changes with this body of work: firstly, unlike much of his earlier work, the human figure is now absent, thus making the landscape the sole bearer of content; secondly, while colored pencil continues to be Krueger’s dominant medium, his newest work also utilizes watercolor and acrylic paint.
In Fluorescent West, Krueger reexamines 19th-Century depictions of the American West through a contemporary lens. The West – its vast physical spaces and mythologized psychological openness - has long been Krueger’s primary subject, along with themes of utopianism, escapism, and hippie culture. In the late 19th-Century, artists such as Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt created work that actively sought to glorify the West, and, in many ways, their conception of the West’s wild and wonder continues to inform our innate sense of the region. Krueger simultaneously embraces and questions the myth of the West, and, in doing so, opens up new avenues for understanding it.
Color has always been an integral part of Krueger’s work. The drawings and animation in Fluorescent West employ the use of unnatural colors and caustic color combinations, which have more in common with contemporary industrial design than nature. If Moran and Bierstadt made use of light to evoke glory and wonder, then, by contrast, Krueger conjures an almost artificial light in his work that, like fluorescent light, can evoke detachment and disorientation. As Krueger states:
“This use of color and light will create a quick reading of unreality in the works but also, as vivid bright colors do, suggest optimism and a fresh reconsideration of the vistas depicted.”
Krueger has been an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, since 2000. Recent solo exhibitions include shows at Packer/Schopf in Chicago (2011), Bennington College (2008), Sunday L.E.S. in New York City (2007) and the Beach Museum of Art in Manhattan, KS (2007). Recent group exhibitions include shows at The Drawing Center in New York City and the Kala Art Institute, both in 2012. Krueger’s work is held in numerous museum collections, including those of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; the Kansas City Art Institute; the Denver Museum of Art; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
This is Krueger’s third one-man exhibition at Steven Zevitas Gallery. The artist will be in attendance for an opening reception on Friday, November 2nd from 5:30 – 8:00 PM. For additional information, please contact Steven Zevitas at 617.778.5265 (ext. 22). Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM – 5 PM.