Gang of four

 New work at 5 Traverse and Providence College
By GREG COOK  |  November 3, 2009

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CHARMING AND BUBBLY Perez’s Liken.

The elegantly simple shapes of Providence artist Lisa Perez’s shallow wooden wall sculptures at 5 Traverse Gallery (5 Traverse Street, Providence, through November 22) take on charming, wobbly, bubbly forms with uneven edges, as if they were worn away by rivers.

Liken (2009) is a stack of oval sheets of gray matte board floating above the lower left side of a rectangularish unpainted wood board. The gray ovals suggest a stack of stones. Where a shadow would be between the gray paper ovals and the wood board is a patch of red that flickers out from its hiding place like a flame.

Glacial Erratic (2009) is a large sheet of white paper with wiggly horizontal white paper strips glued across the middle that could represent soil cross-sections. A fringe of paper creeps down from between a couple of the strips at right like icicles. Elsewhere simple wood sticks have curvy painted boards attached that seem like sprouting leaves or blown snow stuck to a post.

Perez’s distilled evocations of nature recall the biomorphic abstractions of Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Charles and Ray Eames, and Isamu Noguchi. She seems to have carefully calibrated her shapes, their mostly muted palette, and how they delicately meet and kiss to give off a warm, steady, thoughtful charm that brings a smile to your face.

Peter Owen’s work, also at 5 Traverse, is as flashy as Perez’s is subdued. He draws crisp sketches of urban skylines — in this case Delft, Holland, where the Providence artist has been doing a residency — one atop the other. The layered combinations resemble glass shards or the shimmering architectural reflections you see in the surfaces of steel and glass buildings. Owen leaves lots of white space, and then draws attention to the patterns created by the overlapping lines by here and there he filling in the gaps between them with paint or shaded pencil. There’s something about Owen’s razzle-dazzle that makes me suspicious that sizzle is filling in for substance. But he can definitely draw. And maybe I’m too much of a Puritan.

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CRISP SKETCHES Owen’s Untitled (Delft painting #2).


Across town, Providence College (64 Eaton Street, Providence) is presenting abstract quilting by Jeanne Williamson of Natick, Massachusetts, and ritual photos by Eric Sung (through December 4).

Orange plastic net construction fencing provides inspiration for Williamson’s artworks at the college’s Hunt-Cavanaugh Gallery. She mixes hand-painting, monoprinting, and block printing atop quilted fabric in variations of the same theme: grids with dots, ovals, and dotted squares that resemble dice. The best piece is Orange Construction Fence Series #32/71 (2009), which features an orange grid that shifts in parts to gray. The middle is an open lattice that appears ripped like the tears that appear so frequently in orange construction fenc-ing. Most of Williamson’s pieces are solid tapestries that follow a pretty strict grid, which feels repetitious across the 24 works here. But this one grabs you with the stitched textures; its idiosyncratic pattern, based on real-world wear and tear, plus the contrast between industrial netting and Williamson’s fine quilting.

Eric Sung says he is exploring the “continuum of existence through the transformation of matter” in nine large color photos from his “Jea” series at the college’s Reilly Gallery. Inspired by Taoism and Buddhism, each of these “ceremony” photos is staged similarly: a woman standing in a large open space behind a table and bowl set up like a ritual offer-ing; a woman in white stands before a Korean War Memorial with a bowl of what the artist describes as “my blood”; a naked woman, her body transparent like a ghost, stands behind a bowl filled with hay in a large open field with cows blurring in the distance.

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A SENSE OF MAGIC Sung’s Jea-Katrina.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Ray Eames, Providence College, Providence College,  More more >
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