At Gomez, inspiration in nature, earthiness

September 29, 1994|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

In Martha Macks' mixed-media works on canvas and paper, human and animal figures float in a deep green and blue world, as if in some sea or forest, or meet in a milieu of pastel jottings and squiggles which sometimes suggest foliage or clouds and sometimes don't.

These pictures have some things to recommend them. The darker ones, especially, possess a lush sensuality that's seductively appealing. And the better of the lighter, pastel-colored works have a delicacy of figure, of drawing and of color that makes them easy on the eye. Macks knows how to make a picture that's immediately pleasing but that has a certain sophistication of approach to keep it from becoming cloying.

These minuets of humans and animals may suggest, or recommend, a oneness with the natural world. But these pictures are not very deep. Their appeal is more sensual than cerebral. Macks weighs them down too much with her artist's statement about "form and symbol with a Jungian sensibility," etc.

And they are quite uneven. Some, such as "Red Dog #7" and "Red Dog #5," appear much too --ed-off to be worthy of appearance in a gallery show. Others, such as "Dancing With Bears" and "French Kiss," look as if they went wrong somewhere and were just abandoned, jumbled and incoherent. This show needed better editing than it got.

One can certainly say that Craig Cahoon's small paintings (10 by 10 inches) from his "Nebbia" series have the virtue of consistency. Inspired by the Italian landscape, they consist of horizontal bands of slightly modulating color. One painting will be green, another blue, another orange and so on. A few are more complex in their coloration, and there are, as the artist states, some differences in color and tone as the viewer changes position in relation to them.

But these works are so much the same that their consistency begins to be precious by the time you've reached the 25th, if not the 15th. The idea behind them is just not substantial enough to sustain interest indefinitely.

It's Gina Pierleoni's five big charcoal and acrylic drawings of women, consigned to the office, that reach out and grab you at Gomez this month. They're earthy, they're sloppy, they confront you with eyes that dare you not to meet them halfway and feet that are funny and somehow gloriously human. These pictures are real. I've seen Pierleoni's work before, but I've never liked it as much as here.


Who: Martha Macks, Craig Cahoon, Gina Pierleoni

Where: Gomez Gallery, 836 Leadenhall St.

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; through Oct. 15

Call: (410) 752-2080

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