Karen Gunderson

CHRIS RYWALT Mostly Monochrome at McKenzie Fine Art: MYC Art: January 11, 2010

After working my way through Piri's suggestions it was time for my own. I started where I often start, at McKenzie Fine Art, where Valerie McKenzie had put together the group show Mostly Monochrome (until February 6, 2010). Unlike Winter White, this show involves more than one color, but only one color per artwork. Approximately.

It's not the strongest group show Valerie's put together. There are some good pieces here, but some I'd just as soon skip. On the good side there's James Lecce, whose show in 2006 I really liked. I also saw his next show, last year I think it was, and I liked that also, but I guess I forgot to write it up. His piece in this show, Meltaway, may be one of the ones from his last show. He's been using metallic paints, glittery stuff which doesn't reproduce too exactly, but which looks great. I still love his swirls of color and the way they flow across the surface. The varying tones blend optically while never blending physically. And you can't see it in the JPEG but there's a wealth of striations in each seemingly homogeneous layer which give the whole painting a vibrancy only enhanced by the shimmering metal flake. As far as I'm concerned, James can keep doing these forever.

On the bad side, on the wall facing James' painting, is Matthew Deleget's They Don't Love You, Like I Love You, which includes "hit with a hammer" in its list of media (to say nothing of the extraneous comma in the title). That pretty much sums it up: Four wooden panels, painted silver, and smashed with a hammer until barely more than the cradles are left. If he'd gone ahead and finished off those we'd all be happier. Everybody say yeah yeah yeah!

Aside from James, I rather liked Bill Thompson's two pieces, KK2 andKK3. They struck me as kind of Donald Judd-like, although far more playful than Judd would ever be. Which is to say very slightly whimsical. There's not a lot to them but that's part of their charm. I'm taken in by their simplicity and smoothness, how solid they seem to be hanging there on the wall.

I also found myself peering into Karen Gunderson's Churning Sea, A Moment Later. The JPEG here doesn't even come close to reproducing this accurately -- I have a feeling Valerie's photographer (who I've sometimes seen at work in the gallery) had a conniption over this one. The painting is entirely black, the waves being made up of brushstrokes. You can only see them as the light bounces off in different directions. The photo makes it look as if the painting contains shades of gray, which it does not. Is it a bit gimmicky? Yes it is. Does it work? Yes it does.

Honorable Mention for Painting Like Ken Noland goes to Li Trincere for Montauk 1, a shaped canvas, albeit not as aggressively shaped as Noland's, painted with metal flake also, giving it a nice flip-flop character I'm sure Noland also experimented with. The color Li chose for this one is lovely and jewel-like and the rhombus canvas sets it off nicely.

Everything else in the show is better than the "hit with hammer" one but not up to what I've mentioned here. On balance, worth a visit, as usual.