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Digitally processed art has taken giant steps as artists have figured out how to overcome the flatness and insubstantiality of computer imagery. A case in point is “Nocturne,” an exhibit of work by Thomas Brummett at SchmidtDean Gallery (top image, Brummett’s “Nocturne #2”).

Brummett’s current show bowled me over when I stopped in the gallery the other day. I don’t think it was just because I had in my memory Brummett’s previous outing several years ago at Schmidt Dean, with lovely digitally printed portraits of nature–seed and flower pod images–that smacked of Victorian book plate and that fell apart on the closer you got (you can see some of these on here).

This new show first of all has a wonderful glow, with images that come from photographs Brummett took in Northern California, the Everglades, Arizona and Switzerland (right, “Nocturne #3”).

The light areas are golden and limpid, taking on some of the inspired feel of Daguerrotypes and ambrotypes. Against the golden background are nearly silhouetted trees and shrubs in very horizontal landscape/scroll/filmstrip presentation. The limits of each frame (the work goes through a series of analog and digital processes to reach the final iteration) are marked by a dark line that is a presence that suggests window frame as well as film frame. Like a window mullion, the view beyond is what dominates.

Chris Schmidt said the work was inspired by Japanese window gardens, a conceit that replaces or integrates with what’s really outside the window to give a spectacular illusion of a view of untouched nature (left, “Nocturne #1”).

We who spend so many of our hours peering into the false digital world or watch too much television can find the cyber-route to nature here.

The work, while it has a Victorian touch, also has a drama and confidence that takes Brummett to an entirely new level.

Also at SchmidtDean were Pop- and Op-inspired acrylic-on-panel paintings with high-key, sun-drenched colors by Dennis Beach. The show also included a couple of sculptures of concrete and plexi (see installation shot below).

The painted work is snappy and made me think of surf boards and sunsets over the Pacific, not to mention Pacific Islander patterned talismans. It also made me think of fraternity paddles. And a square-shaped piece was Barnett Newman on peyote (left).

The paint handling is pristine and looks silk-screened in its perfection and drenched colors. Although the patterning is ebullient, the perfection of its application and planning as well as the perfection of its substrate make me yearn for something a little less controlled.

The sculptures that didn’t have the op paint treatment seemed subdued.

Coincidentally or not, Beach’s name is perfect for what he’s up to, in the fine tradition of Jack Eden the garden reviewer.

I should just add that I stopped by Schmidt Dean right after a show of photographs and prints that seemed for the most part belabored, precious and earnest. Brummett’s work hit my eye with gusto, and he and Beach reminded me why I like looking at art.

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