Harrington Brown Gallery's current exhibition, "Dancing into Fall with Contemporary Art," includes work by technically skilled, strikingly original artists all new to the Memphis art scene.
For his still-life study Pink Fiction, Philip Jackson convincingly re-creates the slimy, uncooked white of an egg inside a water glass. The hint of red in the yolk heightens our sense that life has been cracked wide open. A bright-pink plastic egg — floating just above the glass and lightly touching its lip — captures the crass commercialism and higher ideas of Easter. What is most real, most incorruptible?
In Joyce Petrina's bronze figure titled P, full breasts rest on top of a large, elegant womb that has been opened up to reveal the fully formed fetus inside — kicking up its feet, ready to jump into life. The mother's huge trunk-like ankles and feet, firmly planted on the ground, help the woman balance her precious load. Her well-worn face, sunken cheeks, and Giacometti-like skull capture the grandeur and everyday pathos of motherhood.
At Harrington Brown through October 7th
The most memorable paintings in Hamlett Dobbins' exhibition, "The River Beneath Us" at David Lusk, consist of shapes floating in fields of color so radiant they appear lit from within. Especially expressive line work and complex palettes feel endlessly evocative in pieces such as Untitled (I.V./G.L.M./T.L.W.), a 7-foot-tall painting referencing much of art history as a storybook figure morphs into a frenzied Looney Tunes character into a Cubist portrait that breaks down into pure abstraction.
Even Dobbins' smallest works look monumental. The 20-by-22-inch work Untitled (for J.W./R.) pans out for an aerial view that suggests how this artist sees the world as well as the process of painting. An opalescent-lemon planet floats in space the color of flesh tones and sand. Dobbins saves his deep-blue and iron-rich earth tones for a silhouetted shape that looks like a butterfly made from the madras cloth that changes color and shape with each washing. In a body of work consisting of 18 paintings — each remarkably different from the next — Dobbins reminds us of the infinite possibilities of matter, mind, and paint.
At David Lusk through September 25th
For L Ross' September exhibition "Duality," Pam Hassler, painter, enamelist, and metalsmith, has created a one-of-a-kind body of work in which a copper disc painted with gold leaf and fine-art enamels are mounted on an acrylic painting. Strips of raw, hammered copper fused onto the face of the metal orbs look like coiled serpents glistening in the sun. The serpents never touch their tails, never spin into Ouroboros-like circles symbolizing unity and perfection. Instead, these are worlds in the making in which coiled copper unfurls koru-like across desert sands, seas, and solar systems.
Sometimes Hassler's expressive black brushstrokes look calligraphic. At times, they look architectural, like the gate posts of a Shinto shrine. In her mixed-media painting Return to Sender II, Hassler's bold black writing becomes more energized, rolls like thunder across the top of the planet, and ricochets into the void. Gold leaf falls into red-hot lava, capturing the sheer beauty and raw power of creation.
Helen Phillips' raku-fired bowls, birdhouses, and ducks, also on view at L Ross, are some of the most evocative works of her career. Into the Shining Sea suggests the world and everything in it. Crackled and glazed thalo blue on the outside, sooty on top, and a lustrous umber inside, this exquisitely formed ceramic vessel is the clear-blue bowl of heaven, is the parched earth, is the chasm that cradles the deep-green sea.
There is poignant humor here as well. In Wisdom of Silence, a singed duck wearing a metal collar and long monk-like robe glides along, cloaked and shackled for an outrageous mix of majesty, misery, slapstick, and spirituality.
At L Ross through