Sunday, August 26, 2018

10 Years. 10 Artists at Octavia



The parallels between visual art and music have always been hiding in plain sight, yet it is a topic that is rarely mentioned in most art history books. Like music, visual art can resonate harmonically, or not, and even some carefully curated art shows come across as tone deaf. Others maximize visual polyphony in ways that enhance how even the most diverse are experienced, as we see in this tenth anniversary exhibition at Octavia featuring work by ten different artists. Here Regina Scully sets the tone with Inner Journey, top, a composition that suggests a city inundated by massive blue waves that paradoxically seem to frolic as playfully as dolphins. What it means is up to us, but as a composition it flows like an orchestral tone poem. Blue tones also permeate Philemona Williamson's Limbs canvas where two kids seem to float amid entangled tree limbs under a dreamy azure sky.


In the most famous 20th century music-based painting, Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie,  colored squares pulsate to the artist's inner rhythms, but here Mason Saltarrelli takes colored patches  on a meandering walk on the wild side in an untitled work, left, that visually evokes an edgy modern jazz riff. James Henderson's Flowers – a spray painted outline of a guy in a bow tie with a collage of old photos where his face should be – reads like grafitti, but look again and those brown, purple and yellow splotches on a ragged green background suggest a nihilistic, abstract jazz take on Andy Warhol's iconic flower prints. Conversely, Anne Senstad's minimal Soft Geometry light sculpture, top left, rendered in crimson, mauve and turquoise neon glows with an otherworldly resonance that contrasts with the aura of a hot tungsten filament – or Miles Davis high note – in Jerry Cabrera's minimal acrylic painting,  Haven. Both contrast with the smoldering tones in Jeffrey Pitt's Nuclear Power painting, ironically rendered in patterning reminiscent of Victorian velvet wallpaper. These works may be coming from very different places, but their placement in such a visually attuned installation allows for an unusually expansive and self-explanatory viewing experience. ~Bookhardt / 10 Years 10 Artists, Through Sept. 29, Octavia Art Gallery, 454 Julia Street St., 309-4249.