Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lesley Dill, Troy Dugas, Dave Greber & Deborah Kass at the Arthur Roger Gallery

Pride of Samuel Adams by Troy Dugas
Big Heart Gown by Lesley Dill
Words are everywhere. They seemed to be taking over the art world not so very long ago, even replacing images in paintings as theory-crazed critics predicted the "end of art." Instead, visual art has thrived as the last refuge of "the ineffable" -- stuff that can't be stated verbally, and in this show words play significant, but mostly supporting, roles in the works of four artists. For instance, Lesley Dill has always utilized words in her sculptures based on the female form as expressed in her recreations of antique ball gowns rendered in fabric or metal. And sure enough, her new life size gown sculptures sport lacy filigrees of letters that, on the spectral or bird headed creatures who wear them, imbue their formal, Jane Austenesque elegance with a spooky, near incantatory vibe.   

Red/Passion 7,000 Day Candle by Dave Greber
Radiant Purple Flower by Troy Dugas
In the work of Troy Dugas, words turn up unexpectedly in formal compositions that resemble mandalas or semi-abstract portraits. Close examination reveals that they are made up of shredded product labels obsessively arranged into formal patterns, so the mystical mandala, The Pride of Sam Adams, top, is actually cobbled from countless Sam Adams beer labels. Dugas' portraits display a related visual dexterity as commercial byproducts morph into epiphanous objects. But elements of pop and mysticism are united in Dave Greber's 7000 Day Candle series of  altar boxes glowing in the dark, grotto-like video gallery. Red/Passion is typical, an altar box where images of hearts and slot machine cherries surround an eternal video candle with the magic words "Lover" and "Power" pulsating behind it, and it may only be a matter of before they appear in local botanicas. Words become emphatic in the work of Deborah Kass, for instance, in her sculptural "Y" and an "O" letters installed by a glass wall so they read either "YO" or "OY" depending on where you stand. Her canvases are also buoyant, but it is her neon sculpture that really has the final say: Enough Already. ~Bookhardt

Beautiful Dirt: Ballgowns of Lightness & Dark: Sculptures by Lesley Dill, Cut-paper Assemblages by Troy Dugas, 7,000-Day Candles: Video Installation by Dave Greber,
Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times: Mixed Media by Deborah Kass, Through Oct. 25, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999. Left: Enough Already by Deb Kass.