LeSage at Ober; 9/11 at Hotchkiss
Rob Ober has filled his bright gallery with both color and texture in his show of paintings by Karen LeSage and sculptures and works on paper by Elaine Housman.LeSage is a known quantity among landscape painters in the area. Her pictures are made of horizontal bands of color textured to suggest grass or trees or sky. While they suggest traditional landscapes, they are more abstract, almost color field paintings. But unlike color field pieces, LeSage’s glow rather than lie flat on the canvas.While LeSage “documents” her subject — form, light, color — outdoors in pastel, she transfers indoors to create her larger, stylized, finished works in oil. Colors can be gentle and moody, like the yellow/green, dark green/gray and purple moving into light blue that inform “Indigo Hills,” or warm and intense, like the rust/red, dark and paler gold and yellow of “Citron Sky.” Sculptor Elaine Housman, an actress in her early years in New York, works in bronze to produce small human figures in settings that often suggest timelessness. Most often they occupy rectangular spaces cut out of corrugated bronze panels alone and separated from the other figures in the piece. Sometimes, however, the figures meet and interact. “Awareness” brings a man and woman together as if for the first time. The bronze seems to tremble from their encounter. Housman’s works on paper — monotypes, dry wall and mixed media — are small, dour but emphatic. They make large statements in small dimensions.“Karen LeSage and Elaine Housman” continues at Ober Gallery, 6 North Main St. in Kent, through Sept. 22. Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Call 860-927-5030 or visit www.obergallery.com.“The City Resilient: Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz,” now at the Tremaine Gallery at The Hotchkiss School, important as it is historically, may be an argument for sticking with what you know.Meyerowitz was the first American photographer to make color acceptable in art photography. Using only a large box camera, he achieved magical images of places and people in remarkable, nearly tactile light. His “Cape Light,” a book of photographs from Cape Cod, is considered a seminal work in color. So the 51 pictures culled from the Museum of the City of New York’s Meyerowitz collection of 8,000 post-9/11 images are somewhat disappointing.The aftermath of the World Trade Center destruction involved ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and Meyerowitz caught many of these people — police, firemen, demolitionists, almost all men — straight on, flat. He could not use light and time exposures as he was used to, and the results have little mood or even immediacy. On the other hand, they frequently show content that needs no artistry; it is the blatant, shocking result of unimaginable evil.Best is a wonderful, moody, nighttime exposure of a large American flag hanging on the bombed-out facade of the Deutsche Bank Building. And there is a dramatic picture of the procession of the last column — the last large piece removed from the site is covered in an enormous American flag, like a huge flag-draped coffin — set against a still-standing skyscraper. Only the bad framing in the upper left mars a near-perfect shot.The biggest surprise is to see these pictures in color. For most New Yorkers, including this one, 9/11 and the following days were filled with gray haze and that strange odor that moved north across Manhattan. I for one can only think of the horror in black and white. But for young people, students at Hotchkiss, this is a show full of reality and history that was made when they were only 8 years old or younger. “The City Resilient” will continue at the Hotchkiss Tremaine Gallery through Oct. 8. The gallery is open every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.