Abington’s annual holds some surprises

Ivan Stojakovic
Transplant, NY, Ivan Stojakovic, alkyd, aluminum dust and acrylic on canvas

The Annual Juried Show at Abington Art Center, curated by Bridgette Mayer, included a little from every genre, from paint to clay to photography to sculpture to jewelry to collage to bricolage, from outsider to insider, adding up to a lot of art–nearly 100 pieces in all. If the mission was to have a broad a show as possible, it succeeds.

Jaime Treadwell
Butterflies and Brawn, by Jaime Treadwell, oil on canvas

Some of the artists crawled out of the woodwork for this show, and others are known quantities, including some from Mayer’s own gallery, like Deirdre Murphy and Elyce Abrams. I don’t pretend to know every who who’s who. But I’m happy to report that some of the people I never heard of, and may not hear from ever again, turned in some fine products. The surprises were what made the show for me–the sparkling pieces from artists off my mental map.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard, Self Portrait with Fish, batik on silk

I liked a number of the pieces in the hallway leading into the show. Ivan Stoyakovic’s Transplant, NY, suggests a body’s bionic replacement parts in improbably cheerful colors and a semi-abstract vocabulary. What kind of transplant–cultural or biological–was on his mind I do not know. But I liked what I saw. Jaime Treadwell’s all-too-human superhero on tiptoes against a flat bubble-gum pink backdrop in Butterflies and Brawn went straight to my heart. Laura Pritchard’s silk print, Self Portrait with Fish, quotes comicbooks, Japanese art and billboards to create its wry take on reality.

It Really Blows Hard, by John Moran

I must confess, though, that I also loved the completely artless It Really Blows Hard, a mixed media sculpture by John Moran of Exton, a heartfelt diarama of a landscape about to be consumed by a Wal-Mart. Three plastic piggies stare at the brick house that Wal-Mart blew down. Maybe it’s the word play of the name of the piece that pleased me most. Or maybe it was the piggy line-up. But honestly, I think it was the little stones on the faux earth.

Gregory David Labold
Mark Makers Meets Mecca, by Gregory David Labold, acrylic and paint marker

Gregory David Labold’s little painting on panel, Mark Makers Meets Mecca, is fine and as mysterious as its name, with its outsider symmetry and pyramid magic. Thomas Hasenmayer’s little bricolage library of awkward, hand-bound journals of daily transactions and markings, was bizarre enough to fascinate and repel all at once. And June Blumberg’s self-portrait with birds was just strange enough to stick with me.

This was one of those shows that looked its best at either end of the bell curve, where the total insiders and the total outsiders dwell. Its weakest points were in the riskless middle.

Here’s my Flickr set.