At Locks: “Fate and Transport” and “Works on Paper”

At Locks Gallery, two polished and mature shows, up until January 11, take us into the new year.

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“Snooks Pond Oil Tank Takes Off,” 2012

On the first floor, Sarah McCoubrey’s Fate and Transport offers a narrative of a sinister reality: our own world, altered and damaged. These oil paintings combine classical realism and critical surrealism. One first perceives only gentle, descriptive landscapes; then, a menacing, criminal essence slowly reveals itself, an essence suggestive of an ominous, encroaching, corporate environmental footprint, of the slow and steady destruction caused by ignorance and greed.

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“Escape Vehicle: Fat Walking Potato,” 2012

I was particularly drawn to the “escape vehicle” series and its inventive wit and facetiousness. Here we find exquisitely constructed potato-creatures, little vehicles that have eluded destruction but have been mutilated, re-created or re-invented by it. They seem to be peacefully content but haunted by an unsettling loneliness.

The show is playful and witty, but quite sobering. It has tremendous variation but remains cohesive both in content and aesthetic.

Now on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World includes works by artists from the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women. The collection of almost 500 works by over 150 female artists came as a gift, unprecedented in size and scope for PAFA, in 2010.

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Elizabeth Osborne, “Porch II,” 2011

On the second floor, Locks Gallery hosts a smartly curated show of works on paper by six female artists represented in the Linda Lee Alter collection. Works on Paper includes work by Edna Andrade, Jennifer Bartlett, Neysa Grassi, Jane Irish, Sarah McEneaney, and Elizabeth Osborne. The exhibition shows a wide range of mediums – ink, watercolor, gouache on paper, gouache and oil on monotype, and pastel – each artist offering a unique perspective and approach to her medium of choice.

Even though in my own work I have been somewhat averse to color, I am always fascinated by Elizabeth’s Osborne’s purity of medium. The freshness of each mark, the deliberate and calculated playfulness of each stroke and the simplicity that comes out of a deep understanding of color and medium, are inspiring and impressive.

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Neysa Grassi “Untitled,” 2003

But above all, Neysa Grassi’s taste resonates with my artistic sensibilities, so it was a pleasure to re-discover her work. Also a master of her technique, Grassi’s work reveals a sophisticated and pulsating depth emerging from a carefully and patiently layered image.

This show is also open until January 11, 2013. Don’t miss it!

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