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Sometimes it’s liberating to leave your mind at the gallery door and allow the art inside to draw your gut reaction, particularly when it’s as vivid and appealing as “New Color Messages”, the group show at 555 Gallery in Boston on view through April 2, 2016.
It’s not that Patty Carroll, Mary Ellen Strom, Jeffrey Heyne, Sarah Szwajkos and Sakura Kelley don’t create work with deep hidden meanings. But for this show, the express purpose of co-curators Susan Nalband and John Rizzo was to transcend the messages and highlight the photographers’ fabulous expressions of color. It works like a shot of nourishment to your winter parched, color craving soul.
Sarah Szwajkos presents three variant images of clear blue sky from her “Liminal” series, a rather overused word meaning “between conditions” that, in this case, is actually a fitting description of the ever-shifting atmosphere. Taken singly or in series, a pure, soothing sensation reigns in her heavenly “pictures of everything and nothing”.
In contrast, Jeffrey Heyne’s series “Storm Clouds Over Boston Harbor” embraces the violence of wild summer skies, accentuating their ferocity with flamboyant color shifts. His two and three panel images expand the horizon in vibrant, turbulent panoramas. Although they conjure disparate moods, Heyne’s tempest and Szwajkos’ tranquility both soar toward the sublime.
Patty Carroll applies a cacophony of color in her wily staging of women and fabrics that celebrate domesticity while alluding to its sometimes claustrophobic effects in her series “Anonymous Women”. On the other hand, Sakura Kelley’s minimalist compositions employ color to engage viewers in a dialog about physical and cultural identity, whether in representational images of objects like cut hair or in tiny abstracts made from scraps that satirically reference the painter Rothko. Despite their notable difference in approach, Carroll and Kelley both exploit color as an emotional trigger for subconscious feelings and memories.
Mary Ellen Strom’s “Tree Lines”, a grid-like collection of twenty-two “portraits” of painted trees, is the epitome of conceptual art, recreating a video color bar spectrum to produce “an exploratory table of elongated or truncated time.” Luckily for the viewer, it is also inventive, graphically compelling, aesthetically pleasing and just plain fun. “New Color Messages” is an enchanting dream of a show, regardless of the messages.
For information about this exhibit and a special event with artist Sarah Szwajkos this coming Saturday, March 12, 2016, go to: http://www.555gallery.com/exhibitions/#/current-exhibition-new-color-messages/
Feature Image: “Storm Clouds Over Boston Harbor, Coral Sky 8:02pm, 2014” by Jeffrey Heyne (courtesy of the artist and 555 Gallery, Boston).