Critics’ Picks

Marjorie Schwarz, snow3, 2012, water-based oil on canvas, 30 x 24".

Marjorie Schwarz, snow3, 2012, water-based oil on canvas, 30 x 24".


Marjorie Schwarz

The Goss-Michael Foundation
1305 Wycliff Avenue Suite 120
May 7–June 30, 2015

Hazy apparitions pose and grin in Marjorie Schwarz’s beguiling exhibition, curated by Michael Mazurek. Painting with water-based oil on thin hobbyist canvases, Schwarz creates portraits that suggest family snapshots or grade-school yearbook photos. Indeed, the small works portray the artist and her relatives, but the similarity ends there, as these are not formulaic renditions of the ubiquitous family photo. Schwarz gives a full impression of an inner emotional life through multiple paintings of those closest to her. With dexterous but never fussy paint application, her art proves both nostalgic and tough.

In the painting Rob 4-10, 2010, what at first glance appears to be a common portrait of a child upon closer scrutiny reveals a smudgy facial expression that confounds with its indeterminacy. Schwarz captures a restrained smile that seems to reveal a shyness—perhaps to guard against the caprices of life. In KRN 4-10, 2010, the innocence of youth is in full flourish. A charming girl dressed in finery is smiling with a gregarious openness usually not afforded to older children as they are made aware of the dangers and hypocrisies of the world. In another room offset from the portraits hangs the culminating work of the show, snow3, 2012, which portrays a young boy trailing through a white landscape of snow toward an adult woman, whom Schwarz renders fading into the bleached winter scene. This painting encapsulates Schwarz’s concentration on family, time, and the painfully fragile nature of our transient lives.