For all these strengths, as a whole, the show's energy feels flat. Other work includes Monica Shinn's dreamy collections of images, Ernest Jolicoeur's blobby abstractions, Jason Travers's rectangles and stripes, Maria Napolitano's loosely painted collections of specimens, Masha Riskin's drippy, delicate hanging scrolls, and Dan Talbot's jumbled images of melting rooms and backyards like dissolving memories. The painting often feels muddy or muddled, and various Modernist styles get rehashed without much oomph.

Allison and Walsh note that the paintings range "from hard-edged abstraction to hybrid figurative landscapes," but it might have made for a more affecting show to concentrate more on abstraction and bring in folks like Buck Hastings and Walsh's own Rothko-esqe paintings. Or instead of mainly featuring abstraction, with some expressionist realism, the curators could have opened it up to all painting, and included works like Chris Forgues's visionary watercolors, Agustin Patino's magic realism, Xander Marro's psychedelic dioramas, Arley-Rose Torsone's old-timey hand-painted lettering.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I left the show feeling dubious about the state of Providence painting — but also feeling that this show is a sampler, and there's more to be seen.

Read Greg Cook's blog at

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