Despite their apparent differences, two new exhibitions at Second Avenue’s beta pictoris gallery – opening on Tuesday, January 7 from 6-9 p.m. – have something in common: they each suggest just enough to get you thinking.
The first exhibition is S.O.S., which is surprisingly artist Melissa Vandenberg’s first solo show with the gallery. Vandenberg has made scene-stealing appearances at beta pictoris before, including striking matchstick drawings that stood out even within the politically charged atmosphere of the gallery’s PULP exhibition of works on paper.
Vandenberg sticks with that political theme in S.O.S., in which, through a variety of media – including matchstick drawings, life vests fashioned from salvaged American flags, handmade sculpture and performance – she suggests a host of fundamental questions about identity and political constructs. Though never overtly didactic, Vandenberg’s art does challenge the audience to think about the limitations society places on us, as well as the freedoms we can find in defying (or embracing) those boundaries.
Accompanying Vandenberg is Sharon Louden’s the dancing line: new paintings and drawings, which contains just as much indirect suggestion as S.O.S. Instead of political or identity questions, however, Louden suggests shapes and forms – indeed, the dancing motion of the exhibition’s title – in the vivid colors and the playful arrangement of lines and shapes in her abstract painting.
As an added bonus, Louden will present her book Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists at the opening reception alongside Michael Straus, chairman of the board for the Andy Warhol Foundation. In the book, Louden reached out to artists (and, of course, drew on her own experiences) regarding the challenges facing contemporary artists, and the strategies and attitudes they can use to overcome them.
beta pictoris gallery is located at 2411 2nd Ave. N. The opening reception is free to attend. For more information, call (205) 413-2999.