Four Score | Art Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Arts + Life » Art Review

Four Score

Art Review


EXHIBIT:Paintings by Alexandra Bottinelli, Susan Russell, Harriet Wood and Ann Young. Artpath Gallery, Wing Building, Burlington. Through July.

ARTWORK:"Arches: Abstract 163" by Susan Russell

The Artpath Gallery is so named because it's a long hallway in the Wing Building on Burlington's waterfront. This summer, painters Alexandra Bottinelli, Susan Russell, Harriet Wood and Ann Young are exhibiting, and a stroll down the corridor reveals that each is on a somewhat different, though equally productive, path.

In Young's artist statement, she confesses to "trying to learn as much as I can in a short time." After a long career as a sculptor and ceramist, she has focused on painting for only about five years. Her landscapes are brilliantly executed. Two 36-by-40-inch oils -- "Trees on Bald Mountain" and "Trees on Long Pond" -- have layered planes of color receding deeply into space, and she draws branches and foliage with authority and grace. While Young's figure drawing is problematic on a few of the canvases -- the faces are stylized rather than naturalistic -- the compositions are well designed.

Wood, who has shown internationally since the 1950s and was an associate of painter Willem de Kooning, has a distinctly personal approach to classic Abstract Expressionism. Her 28-inch-square "Raptures, Passion & Delight" contains broad areas of hot colors -- red, orange, plus yellow atmospherics -- anchored by blues at the upper left and in both right corners. Those corners create a sense of clockwise movement. Sinewy white strokes and yellow-greens laid alongside the reds add depth to Wood's picture plane. Thinner lines around the sides of the composition enhance the mass in the center. While these structural components are important, Wood's use of color is what truly drives her paintings.

Bottinelli used to exhibit at Burlington's Doll-Anstadt Gallery; though that venue has since closed, her works remain, still characterized by layers of collage and delicate veils of color. "New York Times Revisited: Five Muses" is a 14-inch-square work on paper presenting mid-20th-century, styled images of females. These women, sporting Jackie Kennedy hairdos, are photocopied onto a torn sheet of paper that is stained sepia-red. Bottinelli framed the collaged paper with an olive-green backing, which complements the earthy red.

Her "Truth about El Mozote: Words of Mark Danner" is the only topical piece in the show. On two sheets of watercolor paper, Bottinelli stenciled an account by New York Times correspondent Mark Danner of the excavation of bones and forensic evidence verifying a massacre, perpetrated by American-backed contra forces in El Salvador during the early 1980s. The text, and the papers on which papers it appears, are appropriately dark and murky. Bottinelli scrawled a large "X" across the 36-by-40-inch piece, perhaps indicating that the incident seems forgotten in America's collective memory.

Russell's personal aesthetic is defined by engaging her surfaces in a very tactile way, and her 14 paintings here have simple compositions that don't distract from those rich textures. The 24-by-30-inch "Arches: Abstract 163" depicts faux masonry with cracked and burnt brick faces. Some of the bricks glow with a trompe l'oeil turquoise glaze. The arch around them is described with a fat, gilded line. Heavy gilding also appears in 24-inch-square "Abstract 222." Gold-dust stalagmites seem to be rising into a parchment-colored space.

Russell's "Aerial View: Abstract 156" is a 24-inch-square abstraction with a jumbled band of textures extending from top to bottom. The image recalls agricultural fields as seen from 30,000 feet, but Russell has given the irregular geometric shapes surfaces like tooled leather. Near the lower right corner of the piece, an uncharacteristic, bright-red triangle contrasts with the ruddy browns and turquoise patches.

This gallery is adjacent to the Burlington Bike Path and near the King Street ferry dock. Whether one arrives by foot, bicycle, skates, boat or car, Artpath -- at least in the summer -- is on the beaten path.