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Laconia Gallery


resident identity: (re)placing context
Portraits, spaces and places by six Boston artists

Davis Bliss : Emil Corsillo : Lisa Costanzo : Shelley Loheed : Joseph Wardwell : Douglas Weathersby

Friday, May 6, 2005 to Saturday, June 25, 2005

resident identity replacing contextltbr gtPortraits spaces and places by six Boston artists

In its inaugural exhibit, the Laconia Gallery presents the work of six area artists in two galleries. In the 433 Harrison Avenue Foyer, Shelley Loheed exhibits large- and medium-scaled works on canvas that use linear, architectural motifs to underpin broad gestural strokes. Graphite patterns that echo the intricate patterns of floor tiles or screens are drawn on unstretched canvas or panel and then partially obscured by loose brushwork of a much larger scale. These new works use a muted palette of ivories and dark grays to fill and describe a serene, elegant space.

In contrast to the calm feeling expressed by Loheed’s work, Emil Corsillo’s huge works on panel vibrate with energy. A black-on-black diagonal stripe painting uses scale and bold pattern to confront the viewer. In another work, entitledCollateral Damage, a brightly-hued structure built of yellow, red and fuchsia striped I-beams seems to collapse before our eyes. These immaculately-surfaced enamel works are composed of shifting planes that give an uneasy tension to the skeletal environment.

In the main gallery, the work of Lisa Costanzo and Joseph Wardwell puts contemporary figures in settings from art history. The work of two additional artists, photographers, Davis Bliss and Douglas Weathersby, depicts spaces devoid of people, instead focusing on formal and narrative scenarios. Lisa Costanzo constructs her own digital versions of art history’s iconic faces from artists such as El Greco and Da Vinci. Costanzo describes these creations as her interpretation of the “persona” of each of these figures. These works are examples of her continued fascination with identity and the portrait as a disguise. Costanzo explores new ways to construct a portrait by using familiar elements of her face to fill in the details needed in her constructions of well known ”others.”

Joseph Wardwell also reconstructs images from art history but from a bit further away from the figures. Wardwell places his friends or partying rock ‘n’ rollers into traditional genre scenes from artists such as Watteau or Gainsborough, and updates portraits by Ingres. Unlike Costanzo’s newest digital work, Wardwell uses the traditional medium of oil on canvas or panel to painstakingly render Heavy Metal figures in classical detail. As a result, a sense of humor and a bit of the artist’s personality show through in the work of both these groups.

Douglas Weathersby photographs work sites that his art company, Environmental Services, has cleaned and altered. He exhibits large, glossy images of tightly cropped floors and walls that become elegant abstract compositions. Douglas uses a domestic activity—cleaning—and a blue-collar one—house painting—to create short term and long term installations in the homes of his clients. The exhibit features a range of images produced in the boiler room of a local gallery owner. These works were exhibited at the Rose Museum at Brandeis as part of Domestic Archeology: Boston and Beyond, curated by Raphaella Platow.

Davis Bliss uses photography to look at people’s lives through their dwellings. Davis pulls the lens back, outside where she reminds us of how we stereotype classes of people. In her images, Davis catches the repeated emblem of the post-911 flag as it is incorporated into stickers, fences, and window ornaments. The places she visits are filled with peculiar personalities that lure us into guessing what kind of person lives behind each of these low culture tableaux. The images are exhibited as large grids of smaller photographs, allowing for many themes and repetitions to crop up simultaneously, creating a virtual streetscape of different addresses.