Thursday, November 20, 2008

O’Malley, Blatman, Hairston-Medice

“Overflow,” featuring Somerville artists Resa Blatman, Mary O’Malley and Sara Hairston-Medice at Boston’s Laconia Gallery, is a show so sexy sweet (and yet refined) that it might give you the vapors.

The showstopper in terms of panache and scale is Blatman’s 10-foot-wide painting “Beauty and the Beasties” (pictured below), a fantasia of realistically rendered wild critters and flowers cavorting among flat paisley flourishes. Bats, beetles, an ostrich, flamingos and hummingbirds float out of a dark background. A mushroom at the bottom sprays designs in an exceedingly lascivious manner. The edge of the painting is cut out in a curlicue interlace pattern of vines and leaves. Seeing Blatman’s paintings in shows over the past couple years, I’ve felt that her combo of realist wildlife imagery and flat pattern merged awkwardly. But here they’re united by shared lusty sensuous over-the-top exuberant abundance. And I’m won over.

O’Malley (pictured immediately below) also combines natural elements with seductive decoration in drawings of Art Nouveau dream towers, gleaming stalagmites, jellyfish-chandeliers, and bouquets of flowers and butterflies. They’re rendered in dazzlingly elaborate filigrees and lush veils of ink dots and dashes – silver on black or regal red, green and gold on white.

Hairston-Medice knits and stitches together curious colorful yarn and lace blobs that suggest growing things. “Crochet Constellation” (pictured second below) resembles patches of shelf mushrooms or fungi sprouting from the gallery wall. Other soft sculptures look a bit like boggy plants, hanging moss, sea anemones or, if you’re so inclined, lady parts. I don’t think Hairston-Medice has quite found her forms yet; these tend toward a generalness rather than being assertively specifically themselves. And I wish she was more sensitive to color. But she seems to be on the right path.

“Overflow” featuring Resa Blatman, Sara Hairston-Medice and Mary O’Malley, Laconia Gallery, 433 Harrison Ave., Boston, Oct. 3 to Nov. 22, 2008.

Some thoughts on beauty in recent art.

Pictured from top to bottom: Resa Blatman’s “Coitus” (left) and Sara Hairston-Medice’s “Heiosis II”; Blatman’s “Beauty and the Beasties”; Mary O’Malley’s “Hybrid Specimen #1”; Hairston-Medice’s “Crochet Constellation”’; and installation view of Blatman paintings and Hairston-Medice sculptures.


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