The new art season always officially started with "Art for Art's Sake" in the first week of October, but that official seasonal rebirth has long been eclipsed by the August anomaly known as "White Linen Night" which, like so many iconic events, inspires speculation. Viewing art shows at such times can be like searching tea leaves for omens, and this year the portentous signs assume angular configurations. In Marna Shopoff's paintings and drawings at Ferrara, the inherently mysterious interaction of light and space creates an architectural quality that is inviting yet elusive, as if living spaces had appeared within mirages of colliding rays of refracted light that Shopoff had flash frozen. Like latter day deco mashups that meld vintage modernism and nano-technology, some usher us into existential antechambers from which there is no obvious escape, while others--like her three panel 5 by 9 foot painting, Layered, top-- suggest rhapsodic futurist constructions composed entirely of laser light. Shopoff says growing up behind her parents' drive-in restaurant may have affected her, but her best works are lucid explorations of how certain shapes, colors and spaces affect our perceptions of place.
Urbane geometry is the order of the day at Octavia where Leslie Wilkes' geometric paintings evoke a kind of kaleidoscopic sensibility employing opaquely vibrant colors reminiscent of jade, amethyst, sandstone, and the like. If their aura is urbane, with hints of Kandinsky filtered through the formal neo- Platonism of the Bauhaus, their tonalities hark to the turquoise and amethyst and primordial mesas of the desert Southwest, not far from Wilkes' studio in Marfa, Texas. The curving, serpentine ligaments that comprise Gil Bruvel's
sculptures reflect a uniquely French extension of surrealism that appeals to the popular imagination, while Stephen Chauvin's pristine geometric chairs and domestic items appear to provide the ideal furnishings for the colorfully ethereal castles of light that Wilkes's and Shopoff's paintings imply. ~Bookhardt / Usual Places, Unusual Spaces: Abstract Paintings and Drawings by Marna Shopoff, through Aug. 29, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471; Symmetric Equivalence: New Work by Gil Bruvel, Stephen Chauvin and Leslie Wilkes, Through Aug. 29,Octavia Art Gallery, 454 Julia Street St., 309-4249