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Sunday, July 25, 2004

Water Works in Red Hook

I spent yesterday afternoon in Red Hook Brooklyn viewing the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s Water Show.

Every work in the show is supposed to relate to water in one way or another. For the most part, it’s all oil paintings of tropical beaches at sunset, watercolors of pastoral streams, and photographs of waterfalls.

Of the hundreds of undistinguished pieces in this gigantic group show, works by two painters stand out.

Karen Holt is showing two paintings from her Bathtub Series. These pieces, one titled Landscape the other Tsunami, show parts of a woman’s generously proportioned body protruding above the waterline in a tub. Painted from the reclining woman’s perspective, the images take a moment to resolve visually. They have the same cotton candy haze that Lisa Yuskavage’s best works do, but these are more ambiguous. The body, all thighs and belly, reads representationally but also dissolves into landscape and atmosphere.

Tracy E. Phillips is showing two 12x12 inch paintings titled Lures #1 and Lures #2. In both pieces, disembodied eyeballs float against an abstract, painterly background. Brightly colored fishing lures, with sharply pronged hooks, circulate among the eyes. The paintings are small, detailed, finely worked, mildly surreal, and slightly disturbing to view—all of which make them feel very current. Priced at $650 each, either would make a great purchase.

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