Published in the Nuvo, May 14 2008.
Mark Ruschman doesn’t pretend to connect the work in his latest group show, simply titled Works on Paper, but the work does connect: fluidly, subtly. The work of three women and three men comprises the show, including Dorothy Alig, Jane Everhart, Tamar Kander, Craig Hood, Tim Kennedy and Arne Kvaalen. All but Craig Hood will be familiar to Ruschman patrons and fans: Hood lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, while the others are from Indiana and Michigan.
Arne Kvaalen’s large-scale pastel landscapes are the most literal of the bunch: I easily recognize the Indiana he captures in barely contrasting tones that mimic understated stands of trees and level fields. Indiana has its drama, to be sure; more often rendered here as an easy, comforting embrace than a tempestuous one.
Dorothy Stites Alig employs print media to look closer: interpreting stalks of winter-spare branches for their stark compositions that emerge through her eye as delicate patterns. Alig’s prints incorporate swaths of color and overlaid patterns as if to further conjure the essence of what she sees: and the results are intoxicatingly lovely. “After Helen,” for instance, imagines snowflakes from a fiery ground — at once simple and layered.
Further into the realm of abstraction, Tamar Kander’s small collages are variations on a theme she has been pursuing since I’ve come to know her work: just-right compositions of subtle and bold contrast, now with torn pieces of newspaper — in this case with Chinese characters — or bits of string or mesh brought into the mix. “Late Afternoon Journey” incorporates orange, fuchsia, red and yellow, paying homage to the sun in all its alchemical glory.
Jane Everhart’s pastel drawings are equally electric, charting the borders between Kvaalen’s delineated worlds and Kander’s abstracted ones. Everhart’s landscapes are perfectly diffuse renderings of the drama of natural light: Red yolks the eye to a blazing tree, slightly off center beneath a steely pre-storm sky in “Autumn Field,” the ground still brilliant green.
Tim Kennedy is in thrall of detail. In “Dead Trees, Glen Haven Beach,” (graphite on paper), a welcoming confusion of deep gray reveals the outline of a tree’s carcass. And I can’t resist mentioning my 3-year-old daughter’s fancied sighting of a unicorn.
Finally, Craig Hood parts ways with the others with his miniature portraits of wide-eyed Italian men, mouths often agape under a layer of dusky shadow. In contrast, his quatrefoil-shaped paintings are near-perfect landscapes, also of Italy, also timeless.
In all, this is a highly likable show of work by Ruschman artists.