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Arts : The art capades



Pretty colors and bird-filled skies? It must be spring.

Two shows in town might be accused of reflecting such summery themes as pleasure-reading and bird-filled skies. Jeb Stuart’s Page Turner, at Sala Diaz, turns the duplex’s two galleries into hedonistic reading rooms, complete with large blocks of soft furniture. Experimenting with book art, Stuart binds together original abstract paintings on paper according to a color theme. Books line the walls of each room, spaced like paintings but splayed open on homemade wooden bases with a decidedly shop-class feel. Everything in the show is affectionately stitched together — furniture, shelves, book bindings — and Stuart has gone out of his way to make the viewer feel comfortable interacting with his work. This isn’t the cold Minimalism that makes walking on a Carl Andre earthwork seem wicked.

Jeb Stuart’s installation, Page Turner, above, is on view at Sala Diaz through the end of the month.

Stuart’s painting is the most important component of this show, and he has created a veritable “reading rainbow.” In the first room, complementary colors are the theme. Green pages are struck by a bolt of red-orange lightning. Purple and yellow make double appearances, alternating the role of dominant color field with textural brushwork. As you turn the pages, which feel soft and luxurious from the addition of casein, each painting is a moment in the life of these colors.

The next room contains books based on single colors with different values. A craggy yellow line across a lighter yellow page reveals the impact of a simple interruption. The “zips” of color and the horizontally striped bindings play with the idea of story lines, but really, these are objects that shouldn’t be read into too much. They should simply be enjoyed for their tactile and visual qualities.

The Umbrella Clouds and other Large Drawings
By appointment
Through May 28
i2i Gallery
2110 McCullough

Page Turner
By appointment
Through April 30
Sala Diaz
517 Stieren

Another show that recently opened, Eric Hollender’s The Umbrella Clouds and Other Large Drawings, makes good use of the high ceilings at i2i Gallery. Hollender’s works are beautifully weightless, despite their large size: 12 sheets of paper hinged together make up a single work in the “Umbrella Cloud Series.” They hang by clamps on wires like sheets on a clothesline, slowly bleaching in the sun. They project a couple of feet into the gallery space, creating the effect of a theatrical backdrop.

Hollender is a Brooklyn-dweller whose neighbors competitively raise roof pigeons á la On the Waterfront. This pastime became fodder for the artist’s second series of works, aptly named the “Bird Drawings Series.” These unframed works on paper are delicate; look closely for birds that have been screened on and then painted over — a flock disappearing behind a scrim of smoke and cloud.

Hollender’s series have a traditional Japanese sense of space and gesture. The swarms of imperfectly stamped umbrellas cluster together into cloud masses that look more like the abbreviated landscapes of piney hills in Asian scroll paintings. Hollender says these nests of overlapping umbrellas were inspired by rainy-day umbrella wars on New York streets. With a solipsistic turn of subject, he references both the rain and the source of the rain.

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