Weekly Update – Size matters, so does content

This week’s Weekly has my review of shows at Gallery 339 and Gallery Joe. More photos at flickr drawings and photos.

“8×10 and Under” at Gallery 339 proves that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to art. While large photos may enfold you in their world and give you a quick hit of satisfaction, tiny images pay back viewers by forcing them to study the pieces and create stronger, more lasting relationships.

Linda Connor, Boy Bathing, Angkor Thom, Cambodia


The show features 46 tiny black-and-white works by 11 photographers. Most are haunting images of a world where the footprint of man is small and nature is vast and unknowable.

Richard Kagan, Monturque (Andalusia, Spain)

There are many outstanding pieces, including Michael Kenna’s Twenty One Fence Posts, Shirogane, Hokkaido, Japan which reduces the world to a bleak, snowy realm, a receding line of fence posts the only signs of life.

Jerry Spagnoli, Untitled (The Plaza)

Richard Kagan’s surreal Monturque (Andalusia, Spain) is a Quixotic hallucination of a shaggy hut that somehow mirrors the field around it. Linda Connor and Andrea Modica bring humanity to the foreground in works evoking the natural cycles of birth and death and the history of man living in nature. Stuart Rome’s new works on silver-leaf paper look like the surface of the moon and Jerry Spagnoli’s shiny daguerrotypes of Central Park—which shape-shift with the light—remind you of photography’s alchemical origins. These aren’t travel photos, but imaginative leaps into realms that may or may not exist.

Jill O’Bryan Untitled #10, 2008 graphite on paper 132×80″

Across town, “Very Very Large Drawings” at Gallery Joe includes a work so large the artist had to crawl on top of the paper to cover it with marks. Eight elephantine works on paper by seven artists prove large drawings can be inescapably seductive when their mark-making bewitches viewers into taking a contemplative journey.

Sabine Friesicke Metropolitan Time, 2009 gouache on paper 80×60″

Jill O’Bryan’s 11-foot untitled graphite drawing began as a rubbing of the rocky ground beneath her paper and was reworked in the studio. The piece evokes topography. Perhaps the image is the pock-marked surface of the moon. There is no repeat pattern for the eye to trace, yet the work mesmerizes, casting a spell like some kind of creature or icon on the wall.

Ani Hoover PolyChrome Daydream (Orange, Green, Yellow), 2009 Ink, acrylic and enamel spray paint on YUPO paper, 120×60″

Elsewhere, the show is full of repeat lines and patterns that also hold the power to entrance. Linn Meyers’ untitled drawing with swirls of marker lines emanating from a central core will beguile. Sabine Friesicke’s Metropolitan Time , an eye-popping checkerboard pattern that evokes an office building at night or a Matrix-like rain of squares, is hard to turn away from, while Emily Brown and Sandra Allen’s representations of trees both have deep abstract passages that invite rumination. Allyson Strafella’s two cast paper pulp drawings evoke the smoky spirituality of Mark Rothko. Ani Hoover’s ebullient and watery field of spray-painted circles and dots in Polychrome Daydream (Orange, Green, Yellow) updates Monet’s Water Lilies for the grafitti and digital generation. These extremely large drawings—like the small landscape photos—weave their spells slowly and have the power to seduce. Size does matter, but mostly it’s what you do with it.


8×10 and Under: Small Landscapes, to Jan. 23.  Gallery 339, 339 S. 21st St.  215 731 1530.


Very Very Large Drawings, to Jan. 30.  Gallery Joe, 302 Arch St.  215 592 7752.