Review: ''Four Thought'' at Candita Clayton Studio

Beautiful decay
By GREG COOK  |  April 5, 2011

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DRAMATIC Clancy’s Shaw Avenue Cairn 05.

During a heavy snowstorm in the early morning hours of January 12, a fire broke out in the second floor on the water side of the Edgewood Yacht Club on the Providence River in Cranston. The fire — perhaps sparked by lightning, perhaps caused by an electrical problem — destroyed the 1908 building. The club pledged to rebuild, but in the interim they began renovating a nearby cottage that they own to serve as their temporary headquarters.

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CRISP GEOMETRY from Paschke’s Tabriz series.
Photographer Paul Clancy visited with his camera in January and February and photographed walls stripped to their studs and lath. He also took home some of the lath that had been removed in the renovation and reassembled them into fresh, small assemblages that he calls Shaw Avenue Cairns. They can be seen in “Four Thought,” a show also featuring Allison Paschke, Agata Michalowska, and Graham Heffernan at Candita Clayton Studio (999 Main Street, unit 105, Pawtucket, through April 22).

Two of the lath assemblages are rows of the short, narrow boards punctuated near one end by a pair of longer boards, or two boards set perpendicular to the rest. But the most dramatic piece is Shaw Avenue Cairn 05, a tighter and more complex composition. Here Clancy plays the rhythms of the varying lengths and widths of the boards off each other inside a tight, square format. Three long vertical planks run down the left side, then a quintet of medium length horizontal boards, then one long vertical, and a stack of eight short horizontal planks. You pay attention to the character of the grain of the rough, blonde wood, and a few accenting nail holes. The center of the piece is a sort of window, held open by three narrow vertical boards, revealing more boards inside.

It feels a bit like rough-hewn parquet flooring, designed by a folksy hard-edged Minimalist. And maybe there are distant echoes of Agnes Martin’s pale, arid striped abstractions.

Clancy is among a growing group of local artists fascinated by the beautiful decay and redevelopment of urban Rhode Island, particularly its old mills. Some years back Scott Lapham documented mill buildings being demolished. The Trummerkind gang installed their secret apartment at the Providence Place Mall. And the theme seems to have inspired abstract art — from Jon Laustsen’s construction site fantasias to the paintings of Lloyd Martin, Neal Walsh, and Wlodzimierz Ksiazek, which echo the crumbling plaster and rusting metal of dilapidated buildings. You could also include Heffernan’s paintings in “Four Thought.”

Heffernan’s Lunarplex is a white-and-gray composition of overlapping rectangles. Some of his works here are thinly painted, and the geometric compositions aren’t quite enough to carry them. But Lunarplex benefits from collaged on rectangles of canvas, and then a crusty build up of white paint on top. Elsewhere the paint is scrubbed on thinly, as if worn away and here and there revealing gray or rusty brown beneath.

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