Local luminaries

The '2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition'
By GREG COOK  |  March 5, 2014

EXUBERANT Dilworth's 'Venus.'

Reenacting a childhood photo, portraits of fabulous old ladies, and dollhouse meditations on architecture are among the artworks featured in the “2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition,” at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Mill Gallery (560 Mineral Spring Ave, Pawtucket, through March 28). The show rounds up 12 artists and collaboratives that the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts has awarded $5000 to $1000 grants this year. Below are six projects that particularly caught my attention.

Bob Dilworth goes over the top with decoration and fabulousness in his painting Venus — and it’s just the right move. It appears to be a portrait of two women in matching dresses and shawls seated side by side on a couch. Actually, it’s a repeated portrait of the same octogenarian singer friend twice. The faces are black-and-white photo transfers, one looking skeptical, the other with an impish smile. The rest is exuberant color and pattern — leafy rugs and cushions and shawls overlaid by webs of fluorescent green studded with real sparkling rhinestones. Rather than painting the background, Dilworth inserts flower-patterned fabric. The effect of it all is a sundae with everything on it. You can’t get too much of a good thing.

Kirstin Lamb piles up the paintings in her Installation on the floor and against the wall like a lifetime of stuff in someone’s attic. There are homey, handmade renderings of women, seemingly from different eras (perhaps the 1910s, the ’50s, the ’70s, and now); panels of stripes and paint blobs and patterns that read like art nouveau tile or cross-stitch or peacock stained glass; and, on the floor, a faux zebra-skin rug. Lamb teases notions of femininity — all those pretty patterns, a predilection for pink. Then the historical references can make you think about the passing of time. It goes down like sweet nostalgia.

ECCENTRIC Laustsen's 'Modern Enigma A2.'
Jon Laustsen’s best sculptures are sprinkled with clues of the (fictional) histories of his eccentric buildings. Here Modern Enigma A2 is a dollhouse-sized one-room shack standing on a concrete foundation. It appears to have a metal roof, foil insulation walls, and a screen door. That door is part of a wall that seems to once have been part of a larger, more rustic building, now torn down. Perhaps this house was a porch, now converted into its own stand-alone modern structure with crisp lines and picture windows. But the insides remain rough, with a pile of rubble is swept into a corner. It feels like a miniature residence painstakingly built by a contractor with a Ph.D. in philosophy.

Megan and Murray McMillan’s The Coal Bin Project: Work in Progress is a teaser revealing the how-to behind one of their dreamy videos. Here they construct big “coal” boulders from wood and dangle the chunks from cables inside a giant old coal bin at Mass MoCA. In the video, the camera tracks up though the bin at the same pace that one of the boulders, with a woman riding atop it, rises to the top, though a room, and into some sort of top deck. Seeing the process is like watching a hypnotist reveal how to fashion dreams.

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