Hollis Sigler's images an evocative celebration of life

March 05, 1993|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

Hollis Sigler's brightly colored drawings and paintings have always combined a childlike look and deeply serious content about the issues of personal life -- love, relationships, self-esteem, fears and desires. They communicate so well with the viewer just because they are so personal.

The combinations of her titles and her images create narratives rTC that spur the imagination. When you see ghostly couples dancing around a floor in "There's No Future in It," you don't know whether she's talking about an affair or love itself, but it will start you to thinking and probably remembering something in your own life. Her pictures resonate in the mind.

In her latest works at the Steven Scott Gallery, Sigler goes in a new direction. Stricken with recurrent cancer, she deals with her situation with visual ruminations on life and death. Sigler's works are not about having cancer per se; they are about what a life-threatening situation makes one think about the value of life, its uncertainty, and the need to spend it well.

"To Touch, Taste, See, Smell, Hear are the Passages to Pleasure" is the title of a simple image of a person in the shower in an everyday bathroom, suggesting how much sensual pleasure there is to be enjoyed in an activity that we may take for granted or even regard as a chore. Similar points are made by works such as "Today Is to Be Taken for All Its Pleasures," "The Passion Is Found in the Moment" and others.

In the two biggest paintings in the show, Sigler deals with other thoughts. "Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone" is an "in the midst of life we are in death" painting. In the night sky over a quiet little shopping center a flaming red meteorite descends, bringing sudden death with it.

"To Kiss the Spirits: Now, This Is What It Is Really Like" deals with the hope that death will bring peace, freedom and joy. Women ascend a spiral staircase of light from the houses below into the starry sky; at different points they acquire wings and finally take flight.

Such works, described, may sound like cliches, but they are saved from that by the strength of Sigler's images and the depth of her communicated feelings. Like the last scene of "Our Town," when the dead Emily returns to beg the living to make the most of their lives, Hollis Sigler's paintings get to you.

Hollis Sigler Where: Steven Scott Gallery, 515 N. Charles St.

When: Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m., through April 30.

Call: (410) 752-6218.

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