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Two For One

Art Review


Published November 23, 2005 at 5:00 a.m.

EXHIBIT:"Forge & Fracture," collaborative and independent works in marble, bronze, canvas, paint, steel, wood and glass by Kate Puccia and John Osmond. Flynndog, Burlington. Through December.

ARTWORK"Headache" by John Osmond

Painterly sculptures by John Osmond and sculptural paintings by Kate Puccia currently enliven Burlington's Flynndog in a shared exhibition, entitled "Forge & Fracture," that seamlessly presents their respective media. Not all the pieces are crossovers, but both artists embrace similar abstract, geometric aesthetics and virtually monochromatic hues, so even their non-hybrid pieces are harmoniously related.

Osmond's "Headache" is one of the show's clearest examples of artistic cross-pollination. Osmond created a multidimensional, Jackson Pollock-type tangle of long lines on a 4-by-6-foot panel. But while his Abstract Expressionist predecessor would have dripped and flung paint, Osmond has curled and strung yards of wire in various diameters and colors over a neutral gray background.

Osmond's 5.5-foot-tall, freestanding "Musicians I" employs an aggregation of materials -- mostly weathered wood, along with sheet music and metal organized into flat shapes and angles. The sculpture is loosely reminiscent of Picasso's "Three Musicians." Osmond's "Study for Descent" is a wall-mounted assemblage that echoes the Synthetic Cubism style. Thin boards of junk wood, arranged vertically in a 14-by-48-inch piece, create visual rhythms even livelier than those of "Musicians I." However, rather than a sheet of music, a jarring sheet of blue bubble plastic is buried at the core of "Study for Descent."

With the aluminum-and-cardboard assemblage "Study of 3005," Osmond again is well connected to art history. If its overlapping layers of cut-out circles, squares and rectangles were painted black -- and much larger -- the piece would be reminiscent of American artist Louise Nevelson's works.

A horizontal plank of weathered wood serves as the foundation for Puccia's wall-mounted assemblage "Patent Pending." It is painterly by virtue of its frontal flatness and the decorative, flaked patterning of the sheet-metal squares and rectangles mounted on the wood.

Puccia's sculptural efforts aside, she might more easily be called a "painter's painter," creating formally fresh and conceptually complex canvases. The title of her 12-foot horizontal triptych, "CU 29," is also the chemical symbol and atomic number for copper. The three expansive panels of the painting are textural fields of blackness with a vermilion stripe, like a river -- or a vein of copper -- racing across the paintings. A close look at the black field reveals what may be metallic copper dust as well as dark values of blue and green.

Copper might not be the title's only reference, however; alchemy's pictographic symbol for copper is also astrology's symbol for Venus. Puccia's paintings are strong enough that a title of just two letters and two numbers can believably evoke both cosmic and mythological connections.

An untitled, purely formal Puccia diptych is quite similar, and equally strong, but it has two blue stripes shooting through a dark background.

"Split 64" is an engaging, 14-by-40-inch vertical canvas with another enigmatic title. It looks like a river of mercury, or melted aluminum, oozing like a pyroclastic sheet down the length on the canvas. A thin red line also meanders down the painting.

"Forge & Fracture" concludes another successful year at the Flynndog. One of Vermont's most cavernous exhibition spaces, it is also one of the best curated.