Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Julie Friedman at the Fountain

Two delightful shows are on view in the same building right now. I knew of one gallery space, but happened upon the other so that show gets to go first for posting. I have to spread things out a bit to meet my quota after all. The work of Julie Friedman from Medina is on view at the Fountain Gallery at Malone College.

The gallery space in case you have not been there before (like me….) is in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building on the campus with access off of the northbound side of Cleveland Ave just past 25th street. Visitor parking is right there which is how I found the space. I was headed for the McFadden Gallery and happened to see this installation. It is called the Fountain Gallery because a big (wait for it….) water fountain feature is in the center of the lobby. Now keep in mind, it is a good thing the space does not hold a lot of art because a middle aged woman standing next a noisy fountain for any length of time is rudely interrupted by nature. I f you never birthed a big baby then never mind what I just wrote because you won’t understand.

The work is on view until October 8th for both spaces. Comprising a concise 8 pieces of work, this show is worth the time to read her statement, look at the work, read it again (go to the bathroom) look at the work and then stand back to take in the overall layout. The overall show is based upon some dried roots as the culmination of her series derived from inspiration from trees. These 8 pieces began with an interest in the word “root” itself and the multiple meanings housed within it. I share a fascination with word play so her viewpoint intrigued me. Dried roots would obviously create multiple layers of overlapping linear shapes and innumerable negative spaces that could become visually overwhelming, but Ms. Friedman looked for and found the simple strengths of the forms itself. In the first of two panel pieces, this one being of mixed media , she spent quite a bit of time working with the silhouettes (one of the worst words to ever spell correctly) but I found her prints and the charcoal pieces to be the strongest works because of the additional atmospheric aspects working within the compositions.

The other panel is an acrylic about underwater roots but I had to take a fountain break and decided to stick with the dry media even if only for mental block reasons. My first gem from the show is “Congested Root” which is an etching/aquatint, well matted and framed, as were all four, that depicts a massive yet delicate root ball form. The piece almost has an x-ray quality to it and one could spend time following the intricate shapes created by linear roots if not for the dang fountain behind me. My other gem is “Rooted in the Earth”, a charcoal drawing that at first glance seems rather monotone but take the time to look very carefully at the lower half of the piece where the roots actually lay. The surface treatment of the charcoal is stunning. I could not figure out how she did it, probably a process of addition and subtraction of the charcoal dust, but it appears as if the roots are creating ripples in the surface of ….oh geeze….water. It was an exciting discovery and not noticeable unless one takes the time to step close.

Dare I say it? Okay, why be called snarky if one is not….I root for her continued exploration of the print media and drawing. She mentions that prints, because of their process, have to guide the artist, the artist cannot necessarily guide a print. That is good advice and a good observation. I had not thought of prints that way so I too learn something every time I see a show. Now excuse me while I stop in the restroom on my way down the hall to the next show. Good thing the Fountain Gallery only has 2 shows every semester!

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