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Between Perception and Invention: 
Three Generations of Figurative Artists

Art New England, Dec/Jan 2006 


Sharon Arts Center Gallery
Peterborough, New Hampshire
July 16 - August 28, 2005

By Craig Stockwell

The Sharon Arts Center Gallery got extremely lucky. The painter Jeanne Duval put her energies into curating a show of contemporary figurative painting and was able to call in an impressive community of artist and gallery supporters to mount this small gem of a show. I say gem because each of the 36 artists here works with an extraordinary depth of intelligence, technique, and maturity. I might argue with the temperament of the exhibit, a temperament of tradition and conservatism, but the work presented argues eloquently for itself. The exhibit included works by several heavies: Diebenkorn, DeKooning, Hans Hoffman (a delightful portrait of Lee Krasner), Pearlstein, William Bailey, Robert DeNiro Sr., Leland Bell. There were also works by many mid-career artists and a few accomplished local artists. A small painting by Lennart Anderson, “Muybridge” presented a figure of haunting and nostalgic presence, pointing up the complex options of presenting a figure, the choices of what to emphasize, what to diminish. In this painting the full possibilities of “perception and invention” were explored. Figures by Richard Piccolo, Lincoln Perry, Bruno Civitico, David Carbone, and Edward Schmidt, evoked similar complexities. The idea of “figurative” was stretched loosely and landscapes by John Dubrow, Gretna Cambell, Marjorie Portnow, and Stuart Shils looked hard at the rich possibilities of representation presented by nature and the city. Richard Ryan presented a dark, rigorous and elegant still life and Natalie Charkow Hollander carves mysterious and original interiors in stone. This deeply satisfying exhibit surprised my contemporary sensibilities into pausing and giving attention. This is the best we can ask of art, for surprise followed by attention. I also applaud the effort of one artist to gather the work of artists she respects and admires into a common cause. This is territory usually occupied by the young and rebellious…the energetic artist-curated group-show. Good to see such an undertaking come from a fresh direction.