UNIQUE Bain’s I’ve never seen anything like it.
In "Talking Leaves," Andrew Moon Bain's show at AS220's Project Space (93 Mathewson Street, Providence, through October 29), his painting and collage Triple Black depicts a red mermaid and black seahorses floating atop a tumultuous sea amidst old sailing ships. A black head hovers in a deep red sky patterned with yellow and green diamonds and breathes out wind. All the various patterns — stylized S curves and upsidedown Us for waves; red, orange, white, and green stripes; constellations of diamonds — harmonize.
SATISFYING RHYTHMS D’Arrigo’s Inside out.
The more pattern, more characters, more diamonds and stripes Bain adds the better. And he manages to make it all gel. He loses something when he tries to pare down his compositions. And Bain's draftsmanship, which spans cartoony to folksy, can sometimes go wonky. But at his best, Bain's work has some of the pleasures of the psychedelic-era Beatles (maybe it's the diamonds in the skies) — a mix of visionary imagery, pop charm, harmonizing design and colors, and straight-up fun. Houses float on clouds. Wolves and deer hang out peacefully in a wood. An interracial bunch of mermaids form a string quintet under the sea. Giant hawks rescue people stranded atop houses in flooded New Orleans.
Current events and politics run through Bain's psychedelia — New Orleans, war, race, and ecology. I've never seen anything like it has the title in cursive across the bottom. What is it describing? The painting's fetching yellow cosmos dotted with mod stars and polka-dot planets? The white-suited astronaut floating on a line from a space shuttle at right? A black man, speckled with gold constellations, running in from the left trailing flames? Perhaps it teases the fact that old ideas of race persist even in how we view the stars. Whatever it's talking about, as a painting, it's damn captivating.
At Rhode Island College's Bannister Gallery (600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, through November 2) New Yorker Elisa D'Arrigo joins small paper and fabric tiles into patchwork wall reliefs with lots of heavy stitching, like something Dr. Frankenstein would be proud of. One wall piece features a bumpy collection of pink rectangles stitched together into what could be a rough outline of Kentucky. Recollection . . . drawing assembles dozens of small white rectangles with black stitching into a lumpy rug-like wall hanging. In some places the rectangles become boxes that protrude out; at bottom, it all turns tarry black, as if burned.
Inside out is lots of blue oval loops of fabric, looking a bit like purses, lined up as if they're cascading down the wall and into a pool of bubbly rings of fabric on the floor. There are echoes of traditional quilting or El Anatsui's bottlecap textiles. It's about repetition and texture accumulating into satisfying rhythms.