FAC Abstract

“Sun, Earth and Moon” by Herb Edwards of North Falmouth won Best in Show in the Abstract Juried Show on display this month at Falmouth Art Center.

Entering the Hermann Gallery at the Falmouth Art Center on a sunny October afternoon, I was first struck by the dominance of bright color in the works surrounding me. This year’s juror, painter Jan Lhormer of Falmouth, obviously loves the facture of pigment, a quality borne out by her own canvas, “Head in the Clouds,” a large square atmospheric composition reminiscent of rising dawn mists. Her selection task was not an easy one; she has chosen 40 pieces from 95 submissions. All but two are paintings, digital prints or photographs. The single stained glass piece, “Circles” by Frances Merton, skillfully incorporates different textures of glass and uses color restrainedly and strategically. A relief sculpture by Marie St. Hilaire, “Descent of Man,” that earned an Honorable Mention, simply and boldly pairs two found objects: a rusted metal fragment (identifiable by me) with a head-like loop that suggests a mysterious armless being, mounted on an old green painted wooden board.

For Best in Show Ms. Lhormer chose a large colorful piece by Herb Edwards, “Sun, Earth and Moon.” One would be forgiven for thinking that this is a painting, possibly airbrushed, but in fact it is digital: ink jet printed on canvas. The flat, slightly blurry ovoid forms in green, yellow and blue, float on a bright Pepto-Bismol pink ground and convey a somewhat whimsical mood. Ms. Lhormer in her comments applauds the composition’s “wonderful simplicity and strength.”

Another large and colorful composition is “Slipstream Green,” an oil on canvas by Tom Morton and designated by the juror for “Best Expressive Color.” A variety of gestural forms dance across a thickly painted brilliant green field with touches of purple complementarity. Above it hangs Sherri Starr’s oil, “City Blocks.” The urban density of the title is evoked by a tightly structured composition of rectangles, but a sense of joy and playfulness is evoked by the saturated color scheme reminiscent of a pieced-quilt or tapestry.

Amy Rader’s photo, “Panel Discussion,” is a spare and striking composition of a pair of splintered turquoise boards facing each other against a bright white wall. Ms. Lhormer named it “Best Minimalist Concept.” Nearby is Hugo Rizzoli”s “Sugar Loaf” collage, “Best Shape Relationship,” an effective composition of torn and cut found papers, including brown bag pieces, tissue paper and two dominant textured fragments that evoke, as Ms. Lhormer aptly noted, a seaside town.

A large but delicate acrylic painting by Margaret Fair Nowak, “Transitions #1,” shows an arrangement of forms of differing clarity, floating on the palest possible pink field, suggesting a dreamlike state, and was awarded “Best Personal Vocabulary.” Jeanine Lavoie’s digital photo, “Hidden,” which received honorable mention, is a mysterious fluid swirl. Molly Johnston has two photographs in the show, “Guggenheim Museum Bilbao” and “St. Kitts.” These brilliantly colored abstractions focus in on expressive shards, evoking respectively the curving reflective skin of [Frank] Gehry’s celebrated post-modern structure, and the billowing sails and waves of the sun drenched Caribbean island.

There are many more powerful and expressive pieces in this lovely show that are well worth contemplating. Figuration may have made a strong comeback in recent years but there is still plenty of room for creative exploration of the non-objective, as this exhibition demonstrates so well.

Susan Ashbrook is a retired Associate Professor of Art History at Lesley University College of Art and Design and a part-time resident of Cataumet.

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