Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
A YEAR OF ART AT WAGNER COLLEGE GALLERY
By MICHAEL J. FRESSOLA
You think you had a busy year? Get a look at “Recent Works” at the Wagner College Gallery.
The show, a beautiful double-header, represents a year’s work for Nancy Bonior, a painter/draftsman and Steve Foust, a sculptor.
Both of these longtime Island artists have “day” jobs that keep them out of the studio. “Recent Works” reminds us that artists are compelled to make art. They make time for it.
Bonior and Foust are husband and wife. They have shared ideas and territory but enjoy independence working independently but shared values. The intricate tracks of her drawings echo the undulating contours of his sculptures and vice versa. Thirty-five years together is apt to produce echoes and resonances.
Nevertheless, “Recent Works” inhabits the gallery with appealing restraint and harmony.
Foust works in plywood almost exclusively. He begins with a template sawed into intricate pre-ordained patterns that yields multiple sections.
Multiplied and glued together, the forms expand into shapely hollow mountainscapes, clouds, even science-fiction terrain. They appear to be carved out of solid wood and even have ring-like striations.
A lot of the sculpture in a much earlier (1999) show at Wagner (“Topological Constructions”) looked like unusually rhythmic, beautifully regular terrain. There’s still some sense of that in the 2010 work, alongside other associations. Some of the works are tall lean and semi-suspended from the ceiling.
Others sit on plinths or stands, like models for stage sets or film sequences/ “Blue Portal” one of the most literal-minded, looks like a giant cave in a majestic mountain range, right out of “Lord of the Rings.”
Weightless gravity may have been the sculptor’s original goal. Ten years later the work still aspires to weightlessness. Some tall totem-like pieces are suspended (partly) from the ceiling and look almost windblown.
Rubbed-in pigment colors some surfaces. The left-plain pieces allow the viewer to see that birch, for example, has an unmistakeable silvery iridescence.
Nancy Bonior draws with ink on Denril, a slick, hard, translucent vellum. The ink doesn’t soak in, it slides around. Despite the inherant slipperiness, she maintains control. The drawings are graphic, firm-handed, never gauzy or wishy-washy.
Years ago, she was producing dense, map-like drawings. In 2010, the map idea is still there, but less obviously so. Her series of states — there are 20 in “Recent Works” — may look like snowflakes from a distance.
The closer you get, the more clues there are. It may take a minute or two, but looking at “New York,” is eventually rewarding. Suddenly you can see the long sliver of Long Island. Or elsewhere, the dented shoreline of Delaware or the congested hub of Washington DC, the narrow shard shape of Vermont, etc.
Three handsome small paintings in which a simple shape “Diamond” predominates, recall a comparable series years ago that featured an Egyptian lotus. Four elegant oil-on-linen paintings (“Out of the Blue” I-IV) are dark, dramatic abstracts in which flashes of light seem to swirl under a roiling ultramarine surface.
(“Recent Works” continues through Jan. 15 at the Wagner Gallery (Student Union) on the Grymes Hill campus. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.)
A year of art at Wagner College GalleryJanuary 18, 2011