“Non Plussed Some”

In keeping with a tendency that seems to have importance, locally at least, that an identity is conferred by the name of the group, five young artists showed at the Hyde Park Art Center under the lead, “Non Plussed Some.” Irrational and oblique, it defined their attitudes which included a distinct attraction to the commonplace and the banal, but treated with zest and imagination.

Despite the title of the show there were considerable differences of personality displayed. Sarah Canright’s paintings in mellow greyed, almost clay-like colors, were segments, in some instances presented serially, of urban landscape elements—smoke-stacks, railroad emblems. As suggestive as their style was of the world of the metaphysical painters, the segments, acting as discrete repeated units, almost as commentary, emphasize qualities of metaphor more than the lyricism of a dream world. The juxtapositions typical of collage are blended to achieve a lyrical (and here, dreamlike) mood in Richard Wetzel’s transfer images on glass. Black Eyed Susan’s Circle typifies his achievement in synthesizing disparate elements in a quiet, understated tone. Robert Guinan’s work, paintings, and reliefs with collage elements, needed sharper contrasts. Thematically interesting the juxtapositions could well have cut deeper and have been more forceful. One of his most ambitious and also in many ways the most successful pieces was Homage to Jean Genet with its obscure imagery and the residue of violence veneered with sentiment (wallpaper, cheap period frames). It was reminiscent of Kienholz, although the flavor of grand guignol was stronger.

Elements of the sideshow and the circus poster had also influenced Ed Paschke in his group of paintings with their bittersweet view of the penny arcade. The effect was bumptious and gaudy although the central panel, such as in Cine Joya, contained the female figure painted with careful control of chiaroscuroed form. In others the theme was more bizarre. They were handsome examples of work by the voyeur artist. Ed Flood’s paintings made no compromises with the tasteful, their appeal seeming to come from an unalloyed gaucherie, an attitude common to all his pieces, both the paintings on canvas as well as those on glass and plastic. Reproduction processes and the printed word have influenced his work also, as the words “plastic postcard” painted into the picture which is nevertheless titled Rubber Souvenir. His Flower Box, with the layered petaled edges painted on glass, had the macabre gaiety of some cheap cemetery offering.

Whitney Halstead