James Gallery, a space specializing in artwork for residential and corporate clients, is itself a work of art. Housed in a former stable district — a past alluded to with the occasional horseshoe or riding tack wall hanging — it boasts high ceilings, plenty of natural light, and an inviting sculpture garden. But that architectural beauty serves a purpose, in this case to best showcase the impressively diverse collection of art in Multiplicity.
On view until June 29, the show features 29 local and national artists working in different mediums with a diverse range of styles. There are traditional paintings, most notably Concertanti, a rich pointillist landscape by Gil Gorski; a lively abstract water scene entitled Blue Rock Rapids by Susan Morosky; and I’ll Be Your Key by Scott Turri, a bright acrylic work with pop sensibility. Somewhat related is See the Boys by Pittsburgh-based artist David Wallace, a mixed-media piece that recalls, to some degree, Roy Lichtenstein. But more prominent are the pieces that experiment with new techniques.
Works like Arrière Pensée by Michael Smithhammer catch you off guard with unexpected details. Made through a process involving acrylic and paper, the large panel pops with countless, painstakingly cut seed-like dots, all swept up in a flourish of autumnal colors. Winter Hemlocks by Paul Chojnowski seems like a fairly standard nature scene until a closer look reveals that the thick of forest trees was achieved through wood-burning on a piece of plywood. Fire reappears in Christine Aaron’s Vestiges II, a map-like “burnt drawing” beautifully composed with flame-produced holes in deep blue, handmade abaca paper and accented with yellow threading.
And the Deities Lost Face by Craig Dongoski dazzles with a psychedelic burst of earthy colors in oil, pencil, and ink. Retired Carnegie Mellon University professor Pat Bellan-Gillen comes through with History/Inheritance, two jagged birch panels featuring a toile-like scene with warped and stretched rabbits and cherubs. Most astounding is Stardust, a polished, black acrylic night scene by Carla Ciuffo that comes alive through an enchanting augmented-reality animation, made possible by a nearby tablet. Adding to the intrigue is how Ciuffo made the work as a visiting artist at Harvard University, where she collaborated with the Disease and Biophysics Group to create abstract artwork using nanofiber technology.
Beyond the canvas and wood panels are plenty of 3D curiosities, including the textured blown glass of Ben Johnson, the thin wooden curlicue of “Untitled” by Jeremy Holmes, and various industrial-inspired pieces by contemporary sculptor John Van Alstine. There’s also the coral-like quality of “Inner View, Nexus III Cellular,” a shimmery, white marble sculpture by Caroline Ramersdorfer, and “Zoffe” by Elizabeth Whyte Schulze, an unassuming basket work made of pine needles and raffia and covered in bright red paint, primitivist drawings, and Chinese characters.
Keeping with the exhibit’s explicit mission of “offering contrasts in material and content,” textiles make an appearance with Janice Lessman-Moss’ #468, Stars on the Water, a tapestry created with computer design and woven on digital electronic looms, and Split Personality by Jan Myers-Newbury, a quilt dyed using shibori, a Japanese process similar to tie-dye. Entering into a wider range of materials and approaches are pieces made with wax (Participants Within the Vast Imagination by Lorraine Glessner) and aluminum, mylar, and Plexiglas (Double Bond by Carrie Seid), as well as the Magic Eye-level optical illusions characterizing the Tree Dynamics monoprints by Texas artist, Orna Feinstein.
While James Gallery may initially lull guests with its pleasantly serene environment (while giving the tour, director Paul Cicozi rarely spoke above a whisper), the exhibit showcased within its walls will wake you up again with its stimulating selection of bold patterns, colors, and textures, and tech-enhanced art.