June 21, 2006

In The Gallery

Jade Nectar Gallery East,

77 Jobs Lane, Southampton

"Fresh Air: Landscapes and Florals."

Just into its second year, Jade Nectar would seem to be deep into fulfilling its purpose as a gallery for local, relatively new, emerging talent, especially women. However gallery owner Lana Santorelli — who might easily walk off with the prize, if there were one, for most energetic and vivacious in show — points out that "new" doesn't necessarily mean "younger."

Indeed, she says, with a burst of infectious enthusiasm, she discovered painting only 20 years ago and taught herself basically all she knows. She's proud to be an autodidact, a mother of six, a grandmother of five and a wife with a "wonderful" and supportive husband — "he only wishes I would stop waking up every morning and announcing that I'm 58!" But she's happy about that fact and delighted to be encouraging second-career and late-blooming women artists whom she pulls into her orbit with maternal regard.

Santorelli is devoted to all the arts, writing poetry, novels, and cookbooks and has had attention paid to her photography as well ("How can I do only one thing!"). For many years she has owned a gallery in the city, where her work has been exhibited as well as that of others. Though she speaks lovingly of the floral pieces in "Fresh Air," she confesses that her real love these days is for "edgy" art — it appeals to her "sense of greater freedom."

She also favors acrylic because "it's quick," not an inappropriate consideration given the number of her recently painted big canvases on display here. She mixes her own paints, wanting "to make every color new." Though attracted to diverse subject matter (cityscapes, forests, deserts, the Low Country, a Civil War battlefield) and to various media and styles, her abstracts seem more imaginative than the pictorial pieces, and she seems to like the challenge of working with three basic colors (orange, purple and green in Desert Reflective, for example, browns blues and white in Sedona), so as to concentrate on hues as a unifying element.

Committed to exhibiting the work of women, the gallery does not rule out established artists, including men. In fact, two of the 11 artists exhibiting now warrant special attention for their composition skill and sophisticated technique. Liz Gribin, a much heralded and exhibited painter, who has called her acrylics "post-abstract realism," is represented in "Fresh Air" only by a stamped limited edition print, Grape Leaves, but what a beauty it is, showing at once a sure charcoal contour line over perfectly blocked masses of subtle color in free-form geometric shapes.

Ales Shaternik, a well known sculptor from Belarus, has four reasons to be pleased: Dawn and Apple Trees & Stacks, pastel-colored oils lightened further with scratch effects, sit next to two colorful, thickly painted semi-abstract florals by Julia Vinokurova-Shaternik, his daughter.

Flowers are clearly at the center of most of the canvases here, as still lifes, as massed arrays in fields, as forest landscapes and, in surprising guises, such as on Casey Anderson's Poppy Dream Screen, a lovely floral scene four-panel wood divider on view in one of Jade Nectar's windows. The screen shows the artist's distinctive impressionist style, also on view in her reflective paintings, Cosmos By Bay, Sailboats at Louse Point and Wainscott Pond Bright, each illustrative of spare but deft use of clotted pigment on stretches of thinned oil color.

Another surprise is Al Torres's delicately painted oil on wood "multiview painting," a fan-like wall sculpture that, approached from the right angle shows trees, from the left, a hooded monk, hands clasped in prayer. Such "juxtaposition," the artist says, is intended to reveal the hidden and hide the revealed. Lena Yaremenko's Lilacs and Mothers Day Flowers, both centering on purple bouquets, disclose on close inspection complex under-painting.

Gretchen Adreon's semi-abstract Japanese-influenced watercolors on paper exhibit graceful, minimalist black brushwork that composes the colors of her subtle palette. Lieve Theys-Theirs's acrylics on paper — particularly the window display, White Abutilon & Daffodils, evidence excellent technique. Others in the show include Mary Delaney, with her buttery, smooth strokes, and Sibylle Pfaffenbichler, a Santorelli favorite, whose boldly colored flowers joyously crowd their canvases.

The exhibit runs through June 30.

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