In terms of Portland galleries, my favorite summer show is June Fitzpatrick's elegant 'July Salon 2010.'
The works are quiet, minimal, sophisticated and supremely handsome.--Dan Kany, Maine Sunday Telegram, July 18, 2010
Excerpted Maine Sunday Telegram review by Philip Isaacson: "Refinement Multiplied," July 25, 2010
I recommend July Salon at June Fitzpatrick at MECA. I am tempted to say that here the show is the thing. It isn't, but there are times when the work of multiple artists is so contributory to one another and the installation is so much a distillate of their views that an aesthetic enchantment forms.
This is so pronounced in this show that I am prompted to suggest that it be boxed up--gallery and all--and shipped to a big museum. If you are responsive to refinement, logic and technical finesse, this is as good as can be had here.
Lynda Litchfield's encaustics caught my early attention. She has shown work in that medium for some time, but not with the force of those in this show. The holding back that gave her efforts a tentative quality has abated. Here, she slams into the wax with aesthetic muscle.
There is an emergent geometry in the work and a becoming nod to early Greg Parker. I pass Parker as an established grand master and note the continuing development of Noa Warren. His work is acquiring a sophistication that belies the earliness of his professional years.
I've known Larry Hayden as a draftsman of Ingresque achievement, but here he has become a loaded-brush Sumi ink linear abstractionist. His work is now measured in feet, not inches; it pulls you in to create a protective environment.
Noriko Sakanishi has reduced the scale of her exquisite graphite and pigment ink drawings. The reduction creates a chaste personal relationship with the viewer. The perfection of the work, its modesty and intensity of purpose are unmatched.
Duane Paluska's painted canvasses are evolving from gestural--if that can be said of linear abstraction--to formal bilateral symmetry. That grounds his work; it gives it a position and for the most part advances it.
Joanne Mattera is the colorist in this show. Her eye has an in-your-face assurance that is almost shocking. It is a pleasure to behold, as are the two elegant inks on paper by Joe Kievitt
Excerpted Portland Phoenix review by Nicholas Schroeder: "Bright lines: A group show of abstract art at the June Fitzpatrick"
The task of abstraction is never complete. At the very least, there will always be less stuff to represent. Though unifying themes and concepts may be absent, this midsummer show at the June Fitzpatrick catches a convergence of artists at a crossroads of unique material processes. At most only hinting at representation or expression, the works of these seven artists reflect both compositional maturity and ritualistic technique.
If they weren't well past budget, Duane Paluska's sculptures could double as props in Samuel Beckett plays. "Rex," a gorgeous and vaguely canine structure of painted wood, blends an obscured utility with obedient, enlightened craftsmanship. While it's unclear the function "Rex" has, say, in the home, its presence evokes an existential concern not at all ironic or whimsical. Elsewhere, Paluska's acrylic patterns on canvas-mounted wood display the precision of an expert textilist. "Untitled (4241)" collects autumnal squares and rectangles in a symmetric series, yielding ÷ as a verse and chorus would ÷ to a purple and black bridge. Paluska's work speaks the language of the abstract in a wholly recognizable tongue.
Eight ruminations by MECA graduate Noa Warren explore the pliability of visual perception. His highly detailed square panels display amorphous shapes and swelling, illusory fields. As completed objects, Warren's paintings still breathe with the animation of his process: born from a template of graph paper crumpled out of uniformity, he layers acrylic paint on thin linen to plot the contorted assemblage of the graph tablet. The result is a spectral swatch, an unsettling investigation of actual and artificial dimensions.
From a distance, Larry Hayden's "Nine Foot Passage" looks like a response to Kate Beck's untitled masterwork from Paluska's ICON Gallery in past May (see "More Than Black and White," by Nicholas Schroeder, May 21). In both (Beck's is not shown here), tightly bound vertical lines play with emptiness and density without committing to a definitive pattern.
Though both operate within similar frames and grayscales, the six layers of Sumi ink add a voluminous fatness to Hayden's swells; the lines seem to tunnel more than in the clean graphite renderings of Beck's work. This process represents a dramatic departure from his usual pursuits of vivid formal and figure paintings ÷ in fact, so inspired by Indian ink is he that Hayden has continued his composition ad infinitum: "Nine Foot Passage" is merely a snippet. And though it may be terra incognita for Hayden, the field of abstract vertical lines is not an exclusive domain. A full expression of this study, already touted as the "largest drawing in Maine," will cover the walls of the gallery next month.
Joanne Mattera's four small tiles represent another departure. Employing familiar interactions of vivid color on a grid, Mattera's focus on translucence and opacity is upheld here in gouache rather than thick pigmented wax. Greg Parker's large gesso panels are thickly layered with rich patterns of oil paint. The depth of his coloration is particularly astounding in "Untitled 2010.124," where a series of seven blue horizontal lines are repeated over a dense green backdrop. Lynda Litchfield's encaustic panels benefit from their faint traces of nostalgia and sentimentality. Her "Diagram D (echo)" bisects attention between a dark landscape and the promised volume of a simple line drawing in the foreground, while "Diagram C (sounding)" attempts to harmonize two chilly hues.
While Noriko Sakanishi's six works exhibit dot-matrix meticulousness, Joe Kievitt's two pieces marry the show's themes of geometric abstraction and resplendent, leap-off-the-canvas color. His "Upstairs," an 8.5-by-8.5-inch work of ink on paper, reimagines the studious geometry of contemporary graphic design with a personal clusterfuck of spatiality and color. This technique keeps Kievitt's creations from appearing artificially regenerable; the choices are too intense to be distillations of a serial pattern. In a show as nonrepresentational as this, any hint of humanity is noticeable.