A sense of place

Nitkiewicz and Moses's "Dry Socket"; and works by Andrew Jacob
By GREG COOK  |  October 9, 2013

'FEMININE MOTIFS' A wall design in "Dry Socket."

“Dry Socket,” Alison Nitkiewicz and Julia Moses’s installation at 186 Carpenter Street (186 Carpenter St, Providence, through November 30), feels like a futuristic goth cathedral erected in some sci-fi flick like, say, Blade Runner. The designs are sleek and dark with lots of black diamonds precisely rendered as if for architectural models or math class.

You’ll recognize some of the recurring motifs as romantic goth standard, but the duo effectively creates a beautifully prickly mood.

One wall features an arch constructed of actual roses flanked by two flat black arched “window” designs under a sort of halo of radiating strings. The back wall, opening onto a hallway to offices, is wallpapered with diamond patterns in black or kaleidoscoping red and purple. A print shows red berries sprouting from a pattern of braided, thorny stems floating above a red churchy bench. Another print seems to show flames floating in the air of a cave, overlaid with overlapping diagrams of rings and diamonds.

It gets most interesting as Nitkiewicz and Moses transform the space with wallpaper or by framing the edges of the windows with a spiky violet shard design that acts sort of like raspberry stained glass. In one corner hangs a lantern printed with a pinkish pattern that could be clouds or just abstraction or maybe something fleshy or medical.

The show’s title, “Dry Socket,” sounds like insulting slang for lady parts — though the interwebs tell me it’s also a medical term for painful hole left when tooth is pulled. “The work examines the gendering of objects and architectural forms by referencing and reframing traditional feminine motifs,” Nitkiewicz and Moses write in an artist statement. “Themes of possession, voyeurism, and the intersection of internal and external space influenced the chosen imagery and the execution of the work.”

I don’t register the arches and diamonds as “traditional feminine motifs —” the lines are too sharp, the geometries too rigid. But, hey, I’m a guy. What lingers is the sense of the place — somewhere futuristic and barbed and strange.


EYE-CANDY CREATURES A few of Jacob's animal works.

You can’t miss the Avenue Concept, which opened in Providence in May to showcase local graffiti artists. It’s the cinderblock building at 304 Lockwood St blazing with wildstyle graffiti. Founder Yarrow Thorne owns the joint and has made the exterior a legal tagging wall, explains general manager Chrissy Wolpert. They’ve also organized graffiti murals around town, offer DJ workshops, and operate a roving dance floor and skate park during warm months.

Out front is a tattoo supply outlet. Enter through the gated driveway on the left side and go around back to get to the spray paint emporium and gallery, where “Third Eye Aquatic,” Andrew Jacob’s show of hallucinatory cartoony graffiti, is on view through October 12.

Jacob has tagged “Opeate” in bubbly letters across one gallery wall. The title of a painting is Bull Fights On Acid. You get the picture. His primary motif here, featured in eight paintings, is The Owl of Wisdom (as he’s titled one painting). The bird has giant, crazy, tranced-out, pinwheeling eyes. It’s plumage is a bedazzled array of Technicolor mandalas, polkadots, stripes, radiating lines, checkerboards, and rows of squares and triangles. Other paintings show an ominous hovering “all-seeing” eye, Asian-styled rolling waves, and naked ladies flanking a broken heart. He also dabbles in bland spray can abstraction. Where it’s at is his trippy, eye-popping, eye-candy birds.

Follow Greg Cook on Twitter @AestheticResear.
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