With scenes of automobiles on parking lots and televisions in prison, Susan Waters-Eller paints the loneliness and disconnectedness of modern life, which lead to so many of its problems, from depression to violence.
There's a kind of narrative strain running through her paintings, which constitute the larger and better of her works now at Nye Gomez. "Holding" puts the viewer at the bottom of a giant cage, sentenced to look through the bars at (but never to reach, to control) a solid wall of television sets, showing everything from a hugely grinning Mickey Mouse to a grimacing Lee Harvey Oswald at the moment when he was shot. We see everything, this work says, but we can connect with nothing.
And that leads to the consequences of depersonalization, as in "Red and Green Parking Lot," in which the occupant of one car shoots the occupant of another for pulling out of a parking space and blocking his way. Ranks and ranks of parked cars witness this in mute acceptance; cars, like television sets, separate us from one another.
In "Untitled," a lone tiny car occupies a space in a far corner of an indoor parking lot whose heavy ceiling presses down: depresses. "Upscale" gives us another impersonal parking lot in front of an impersonal mall with an enormous kitschy emblem on the front of it as a symbol of modern material culture -- the sort of empty fakery that fills up the emptiness of life.
In "Image," a car (with you, the viewer, in it) enters a parking lot on whose walls can be made out the ghostly images of faces, as if, entering there, you will become one with the thingness of your car, like the thingness of all other cars, and your individuality will be only another ghostly presence on the wall. Waters-Eller's work is both well crafted and eloquent.
Dan Dudrow, who shares the main Nye Gomez space with Waters-Eller, can paint a mean surface. His textures and his combinations of colors are seductive, and one can lose oneself in his blue-pink-lavenders and mustard-peaches. But his imagery possesses a deco-esque looking geometry that tends to trivialize his work.
It is particularly inappropriate for the religious subject matter of some of the current works, such as "Stigmata" and "Crucifix." The "Dancer" series, though it's cartoonish, at least isn't made ludicrous by its subject matter. Concentrate on his surfaces and colors, however, and you will find Dudrow a skillful painter.
In the gallery's smaller space are prints by Susan Due Pearcy. They speak an inner language of aloneness, though not necessarily loneliness, and the drypoints in particular achieve a nice counterpoint of astringency and richness. "Critical Curvature of the Paperclip" is reminiscent of the seductiveness with which Jasper Johns can endow an insignificant object.
Where: Nye Gomez Gallery, 836 Leadenhall St.
When: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Call: (410) 752-2080.