Margy Lavelle’s quarantine scene
What: "A Straw in the Wind"
Where: i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court, Edison
WHEN: 11am-4pm Fri.-Sun., or by appointment, through Feb. 28
Cost: Entry is free
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
“A Straw in the Wind” is Margy Lavelle’s title for the exhibit of her most recent paintings on display at i.e. gallery, the Edison-based creative space she opened with fellow artist David C. Kane in June of 2015 before becoming the sole proprietor in February of 2016.
The solo show is grouped into two series and several large, masterful abstractions. Her “Edge” series is made up of six works on canvas in oil, dry pigment and cold wax. Dominating the gallery is the massive “Containment” series.
Does the title suggest Lavelle’s response to the quarantine? It appears so. Upon the requirement to close the gallery last March, she says she dug out a roll of heavy, raw canvas, cut it into five-by-five-foot pieces and painted them “with house paint, acrylic, gouache, oil pastel, oil sticks, charcoal—whatever I could get my hands on.” When summer came, she dragged them outside and blasted them with a garden hose, leaving them on the grass for a few days as if they were “camping out.”
“It was very cathartic,” she says.
Patrons perusing the works in person or online will notice a rectangular figure in each of these five large, unframed works. The monochromatic composition, “Time Less,” allows but a tiny square, bounded by wispy light. A faint, unfocused companion recedes below.
“Fragile Still” finds a larger shape—white, shaded with rose—rising up from darkness. In “A Summer Day” a square, now slightly larger and tinted with rust, dips into a pale field. “Blue Edge” shows an unfocused magenta rectangle in a disturbed ground of grey and black. Its shadowy twin lurks beneath.
In “Contained,” a rich central figure of yellow and green reassures us that a garden may offer refuge from the surrounding darkness.
Each one of the “Edge” series meditates upon a separate color. I found “ochre” and “cobalt” to be the most interesting, for their luminosity. An “August Field” color study fits into this group as well.
A grand oil painting, “Migration,” returns to Lavelle’s trademark abstract expressionism. A dark, turbulent band below, marked by a flurry of finger strokes, is relieved by a glory of brightness above. And “Boundless” suggests a sunrise above forest and mountains, even as it remains rigorously abstract.
Once again, it’s a treat to savor Lavelle’s deep insight and rich pictorial imagination. She opened gallery i.e. in part to highlight the work of talented local artists who may not be as widely known as they deserve to be, and in doing so has been able to occasionally include herself on that list.
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