Doodles, lights, and dreams

Prouty, Sanchez, and Perry at AS220
By GREG COOK  |  July 16, 2014

A WISECRACKING SWAGGER Prouty's 'Doodle Monster.'

Gibson Prouty has found a muse — classic yellow pencils with pink erasers on the end. In his show, “Doodles,” at AS220’s Main Gallery (115 Empire St, Providence, through July 26), they become confident characters standing upright with a top hat sitting at a rakish angle on its eraser head and a soda in one pencil-hand and a donut in the other. Pencils become tree trunks and branches and skyscrapers and cars. They become squids, each tentacle coming to a sharpened lead point. Pencils become mouths and hair on lumpy, mutant Mr. Potato Head faces.

You wouldn’t necessarily think that Prouty could get such mileage out of the subject, but these scrawled crayon, paint, and marker drawings of goofy pencils put a smile on your face and carry his exhibit. They have a wisecracking swagger to them. They look like something done by an elementary-school kid who’d gotten a look at Philip Guston’s late stumblebum cartoon paintings, but instead of being fascinated with shoes and cigarettes like Guston, turned to his trusty No. 2. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, but my heart says this is the harbinger of more great things to come.

AFTER DARK Sanchez's 'East Side Bridge.'

Darvin Sanchez’s “Street Lights” photos share the space with Prouty. These are images of Providence after dark — the dome of the State House, Downcity storefronts, the Biltmore, the river, Kennedy Plaza, train tracks, headlights blurring by in a long-exposure shot of a neighborhood street.

Cities at night can be one of the most powerfully moody and evocative subjects. Think Edward Hopper, who channeled the twitchy loneliness and mystery of midnight.

Sanchez’s long-exposures can make the streets feel strange — the blues and reds too vivid, the lights too bright. These shots seem like the beginning of something. One can imagine the photographer going for full-on otherworldly, or showing it more straight as our eyes feel it. Right now the shots are somewhere in between, lurking in iconic locations, but not yet having nailed the soul of the subject. If I were to guess, I’d say it might be worth doing more exploring of the shadows.


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