Affirmative action

YES Gallery’s ‘Lovesick/Seasick’
By GREG COOK  |  July 23, 2008

I recently drove out to Warren to see YES Gallery + Studio, which opened at 146 Water Street in April. It was my first visit there, but the inspiration for the gallery’s name was a promising sign.

Owner Leigh Medeiros named it after Yoko Ono’s 1966 Ceiling Painting (YES Painting), which invited viewers to climb a step ladder and use a magnifying glass to discover the word “YES” printed on a panel on the ceiling. Ono’s relationship with John Lennon began after he wandered into a London gallery and up that ladder.

Medeiros writes on the gallery’s blog: “This is a quote by Yoko that I think is great, ‘There have been so many negative elements in my life, and in the world. I had to balance that by activating the ‘Yes’ element’ . . . I also loved the idea of someone driving down Water Street, mulling over a decision, then looking up to see the word ‘YES’ on the gallery building. Who knows what things could come of such a bold ‘sign’?”

YES Gallery is located in a gorgeous green wood-frame 1883 building on a quaint strip of boutiques and restaurants that runs parallel to the Warren River. Medeiros tells me the building has a storied past, including stints as a house of ill repute, and later the studio of illustrator David Macaulay.

Medeiros, 35, is an artist herself — YES Gallery’s current show, “Lovesick/Seasick” (through August 8), includes her small painting of a flower above the word “aching”; she has also worked on films and screenplays. Inside the Outside, her short documentary about the Top Drawer Art Center in East Providence, is scheduled to be screened at the Rhode Island International Film Festival in August. In the past, she worked at the Revolving Museum, when it was based in Boston, and the Eisenhauer Gallery on Block Island.

“Lovesick/Seasick” includes loose, doodley paintings by Doug Desjardins, who alternates between Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The best ones, like In the Flow, which shows people in furry coats wandering a wood under a starry sky, have the charm and invention of children’s drawings. Cynthia Guild of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, shows moody impressionist paintings of freighters passing under bridges and a battleship silhouetted against an ominous night sea. John Foraste of Barrington offers bland photos of boats, and Andy Suriano of LA presents overwrought symbolic paintings of fishermen and whales.

Medeiros seems to still be finding her curatorial vision. She tells me she’s trying to create something between a gallery and a shop, a space that will be accessible to the  local audience.

I’d suggest she follow her sharp eye for illustrationy or graphic works. These include Californian Sarah Symes’s California Dream, a bright appliqué textile that recalls mid-century modern abstract graphics. Pink bands of fabric run across the top, while orange bands fill the bottom. A cluster of yellow, orange, pink, green, and gold squares buzz across the space about two-thirds of the way down where they meet.

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