Carla Rosenzweig's show at Gallery 10 throws a haymaker at the viewer. Literally.
"Loft and Walls," the most important of her three installations, is actually made from bales of hay stacked to form walls around a simulacrum of an old-time barn loft.
The pungent smell is only one of many devices the artist has used to conjure the sense of a real place--in this case a deliciously silent barn in which to hide with a good book on a hot summer afternoon.
A single white cup and saucer perched on the wall is enough--in Rosenzweig's hands--to suggest a single human presence within. The impulse to clamber into the loft is what the artist hopes to evoke in the viewer, and she succeeds.
Poetic, often nostalgic, conjurings of this sort are the essence of this farm-born artist's work, but in this show several wall-hung sculptural assemblages make the point that she can be as evocative on a smaller scale.
In one piece, "White Walls," Rosenzweig brings three mere squares of spackle-covered cardboard to life. "Salt Trough"--the best of several pieces made from salt-licks--seems to symbolize her own art: sticks with wrapped ends suggesting paintbrushes rendered useless in the face of art that expresses itself through the placement of objects and other non-traditional devices.
Rosenzweig's growing mastery in this genre deserves broader recognition and more opportunities such as that offered by Maryland Art Place in Baltimore where "Loft and Walls" was first shown. This show continues through Oct. 1 at 1519 Connecticut Ave. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 5. Reni Gower at Anton
Reni Gower's new "Fan" structures at Anton Gallery spring from the rich terrain between painting and sculpture, maintaining tension between the two and characteristics of both. A distinctive hybrid, they also cross aspects of Rauschenberg with recent pattern painting. The results are intriguing, if still somewhat raw and experimental.
For each of her doorway-size works, Gower has built a large, wood-frame construction with radial arms--not unlike the display racks used for flipping through wallpaper or fabric samples in decorating shops. To each one, she has stapled free-hanging strips of gauze, torn canvas and lengths of screening, all dyed in rich hues or vigorously painted with bold patterns, squiggles or thick, mottled color.
The result: a highly sculptural piece with movable parts through which the viewer can browse, savoring the changing overlays of color, texture and pattern which the artist has contrived.
A basic question here is whether the experience packs more esthetic punch than the daily chore it strongly resembles: that of looking through a tie rack for something to wear. Most of Gower's work outstrips the joys of that activity by its sheer variety: Each bit of fabric or screening is, after all, a fine little painting in itself. In addition, there is the potential infinity of color and textural variations available in the transparent overlappings.
Topping each of these structures--and giving them a frontal, almost architectural order--is a louvered wooden fan of the sort used as decorative embellishment over traditional doorways. These found objects not only gave rise to the radial form of these works, but are used to establish a basic color theme for each--mauve, blue, green-gold. In the most fully realized piece, "Fan D," the basic color resonates throughout the work, offering myriad minor satisfactions and promising more to come as this series progresses.
Gower is an assistant professor in the painting and printmaking department of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She was supported in this new cycle of work by the National Endowment for the Arts through a grant from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she will exhibit next year. Her current show continues at 415 East Capitol St. through Oct. 5, noon to 5, Tuesdays through Sundays.