Curious members of the human colony descended on Lisa Sette Gallery on Saturday, January 10, for the opening of "The Brief Forever" featuring works by Mayme Kratz and Alan Bur Johnson, and "Nostalgia" by Neha Vedpathak.
Drenched in honey-colored light from the impending sunset, the gallery sat quiet like an undisturbed bee hive until swarms of gallery-goers descended, transforming the space into a human hive filled with frenetic activity. The dance of dichotomies had begun.
Ethereal, mundane. Trapped, freed. Isolated, joined. Broken, whole. Artificial, organic. Transient, permanent. They're all reflected in this grouping of works, which convey the co-existence and mutual dependence of seemingly disparate elements in the natural world.
Kratz gathers grasses, seeds, shells, vertebra, pods, insect parts, and other bits of nature that others seldom notice. Many of these objects are carefully arranged and coated with several layers of transparent resin, sometimes tinted, to create blocks, towers, orbs, and panels.
Bordered on both sides by concrete walls while descending steps leading to the exhibition space, gallery goers see only a single piece of art: Kratz's I Think I Grow Tensions, a 2014 resin and poppy pods on panel piece that mirrors the sort of mental mirage typically associated with the poppy's hallucinogenic properties.
Hundreds of circles fill the 36-by-36-inch square, like blood cells on a specimen slide or empty wrappers left inside a candy box after all its chocolates have been consumed. It appears at first to be a painting, but closer inspection reveals the depth created by layers of resin, strategically sanded at various stages. Often this sanding reveals details of objects not apparent on the surface -- a bit like time roughs away our superficiality to manifest more of who we truly are as we age.
Such details are most evident here in Kratz's 60-by-60-inch Across the Velvet Dark 2, a 2013 resin, shells, vertebra, and Navajo tea on panel piece. Enveloped by deep mossy green, they conjure images of dandelion seeds dispersed by the wind or gentle puff of air from a child's pursed lips. Others may see particles surrounding the nucleus of a cell, or cosmological processes akin to our own "big bang."
"The Brief Forever" is also anchored by four large-scale Johnson works comprised of photographic transparencies, metal frames, and dissection pins.
Capturing bits of nature including butterfly wings and bird feathers with a camera, Johnson transforms them into circular snippets amassed like graceful starlings or swarming insects moving together through open skies. When fanned, individual transparencies move slightly, reflecting nature's vulnerability.
His Murmuration 11:39:21 (2014, 34 inches by 88 inches by 2 inches) is especially intriguing given its elongated swirls that seem poised to create the lemniscate that symbolizes infinity, although they never achieve it. Despite human longings for eternity, Johnson's work reinforces the elusiveness of forever.
"The Brief Forever" include several carbon reduction pieces from Johnson's The Thinner the Air series and several paper, wax, and butterfly dust works from Kratz's Broken Wing series. All channel the delicate qualities of a fragile world. They're mounted on exterior walls for the atrium, where a small screen shows video of artist Neha Vedpathak at work on Nostalgia.
Vedpathak's Nostalgia installed inside the atrium consists of plucked Japanese handmade paper, jasmine scent, and plexiglass mirror sheet. The scent was imperceptible as the opening reception began, but grew stronger throughout the evening as the paper was warmed by lights used to illuminate the space.
The most spectacular work currently exhibited at Lisa Sette Gallery is Kratz's Falling Leaf 2 comprised of two pieces -- one a 5-by-5-inch resin and leaf work that informed its companion: a 63 inch by 60 inch x 3 inch resin and fairy duster seeds work. The latter consists of a leaf form created with hundreds of seeds shaped into broken circles in warm golden tones that resemble honeycombs.
For members of the human hive who circled back to it throughout the night, it must have felt like home.
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"The Brief Forever" continues through February 28. For more information visit lisasettegallery.com.