Maria Porges

  • Katherine Sherwood

    In Katherine Sherwood’s newest body of work, the predominant theme is luck, examined in several of its most peculiar and intrinsically random forms. Set against a ground of paper glued onto canvas, signs and symbols of magic, gambling, and apocalypse reveal themselves gradually, almost coyly, with a little detective work. In many of these paintings, vaguely organic-looking figures and diagrams turn out to be “white magic seals of the spirits”: runes to which specific powers are ascribed. One confers wit and humor; another helps someone get ahead on the job, and a third grants peace of mind.

  • Ritsuko Taho

    With a rare combination of humor and grace, Ritsuko Taho’s installation Dawn: Transformation of Zero, 1995, examined our complex relationship with money. For Taho, money represents more than the act of exchange or accumulation: it is also, metaphorically, a measure of time. Evoking a process of gradual refinement or winnowing out, two elegantly tiered platforms descended from two corners of the room toward opposite ends of a high table. The steps of one were covered with mounds of shredded currency; the other, with similar piles of crumbly brown topsoil. On the table, Taho had left instructions

  • Melissa Pokorny

    The deadpan humor of Melissa Pokorny’s neorococo constructions depends, in part, on a combination of the familiar and the utterly odd. Mounds, towers, and rows of cute little creatures serve as a kind of wry punctuation for the eccentric forms Pokorny assembles out of fragments of thrift-store furniture, swaths of fabric and/or bundles of turned wooden balusters. Clots of puppies, lambkins, poodles, and trolls cast out of a spongy polyurethane foam nestle together in nooks and crannies. Tinted the same peculiar early ’70s palette—burnt orange, lime green, fleshy mauve, or mustard yellow—as the

  • David Dunlap

    Though a number of artists have specialized in making artwork that draws from the constant inner monologue of consciousness, for David Dunlap this process has become the core of a practice based on the paradoxical precept that the more we pay attention to our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, “the more we don’t know.” This entrancing, equivocal ·world view was apparent in every detail of This is Always Finished, 1995, a complicated, encyclopedic image-text installation that sprawled through the gallery with a kind of faux-naive charm. The main elements were furnished by Dunlap’s journals—pocket-sized

  • Michael Kenna

    For some artists, the passage of twenty years encompasses several distinct bodies of work. Others, like photographer Michael Kenna, apparently find change less compelling than achieving a kind of perfection within relatively narrow parameters. As revealed by these small, black and white images, Kenna’s work centers—and always has—around a genre best described as landscape-as-still-life. Off-season views of shorelines or rolling hills, parks or cityscapes, exude a kind of cool, autumnal melancholy. In the crepuscular light spreading over land, water, or buildings, it always seems to be late, or

  • Enrique Chagoya

    Like an offering to the gods of crosscultural communication, Enrique Chagoya’s first museum show in his adopted hometown, entitled “Borders of the Spirit,” presented a thoughtful and often bitingly humorous cross section of work from the past decade. Chagoya’s paintings, drawings, and sculpture explore what happens when two (or sometimes three) worlds bump up against each other, by setting American pop-culture icons—Superman, Mickey Mouse, Olive Oyl—into a matrix of the rich, highly diverse visual traditions of Chagoya’s native Mexico. By juxtaposing Aztec gods and DC Comics superheroes, Mickey’s

  • Bill Bury

    At first glance, the 28 identically sized, framed paintings in this show seemed to spring from a familiar strategy: a series of variations on a compositional theme based on a certain group of elements in a prescribed format. In each small work, sinuous blobs reminiscent of ’50s coffee tables, Joan Miró-esque abstractions, and undersea life collide and overlap, punctuated by a loopy squiggle that terminates in the painted suggestion of a tiny glow. The blob’s lively protoplasmic shapes are rendered either as solid forms, in achingly beautiful combinations of dense, delicious-looking color, or as

  • Hollis Sigler

    In “Not Many Rest Stops,” Hollis Sigler presented uninhabited landscapes and interiors filled with modern-day memento mori. Resembling nothing so much as the scenery and props of a tragedy-in-progress, the elements of Sigler’s elaborately framed drawings and paintings narrate the continuing story of her experience with cancer. Over the past nine years she has explored social attitudes toward and treatments of this disease and of breast cancer in particular. She does so through the use of both words and pictures, hand-writing a continuing thread of text around stepped wooden frames, as well as

  • Jess

    In the second half of the 20th century, the vision and accomplishments of the vast majority of America’s designated masters have tended to be monolithic, highly focused and, above all, self-referential. For the painter and collagist Jess, this Modernist mainstream seems to have held only passing interest during a lifelong development of a personal vision, shaped by qualities so distinctly unconventional that his remarkable work—difficult either to categorize or describe—has not received the kind of recognition or respect that it has long deserved. This extensive retrospective now

  • Donald Lipski

    Donald Lipski has always had a gift for the graceful manipulation of unusual materials, ranging from the simple (matchbook covers, bits of string) to the elaborate or strange—roses pickled in baroque arcs of industrial glass tubing, or church bells dressed in nun’s wimples. This ability to elicit a kind of romantic beauty out of just about anything has been employed to remarkable effect in The Starry Night, 1993, an installation created for the opening of Capp Street Project’s brand-new space on Second Street. In this room-sized piece, close to 25,000 double-edged razor blades, stuck directly

  • Jim Barsness

    For several years, Jim Barsness has been perfecting the idiosyncratic combination of materials and techniques from which he generates the large, complex drawings that are a major part of his work. With a blue ballpoint pen, he renders gracefully stylized, sometimes cartoony figures on a background of found material (maps, comics, pages from books), which is then collaged onto a canvas support. In the past, the overall mood of these scenes—colored at least in part by the mellow gloom of the bruised-looking palimpsest that acts as a backdrop—has been benign, if sometimes a little loony. The printed

  • David Cannon Dashiell

    After the resumption of his career as an artist in 1985, David Cannon Dashiell’s work focused on questions of love and passion, health and morality: on AIDS, as both metaphor and reality in contemporary life. “Queer Mysteries,” the Adaline Kent Award exhibition for 1993, served as a retrospective of the remarkable body of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and installations Dashiell made over the past eight years, since he first began to suspect that he was infected with HIV. Sadly, this show was also Dashiell’s last as a living artist: he died in San Francisco during its final week.

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