Art Commentary: Guild Hall Shows, Hunt, Meyrowitz and Ross

Oddly enough, the current artists at East Hampton’s Guild Hall each share common themes, although it’s not immediately apparent. What could sculptor Bryan Hunt, photographer Clifford Ross and illustrator Helen Meyrowitz possibly have in common?

What comes to mind initially are basic instincts from nature and human behavior. Then other aspects become clear, namely the archetypical and mythical qualities inherent in these three artists’ works.

Hunt’s graphite and linseed oil drawings, like “Cubit Quarry,” deal with primitive elements from the earth. Other works, like “Black Falls” and “Last Falls,” similarly celebrate an essential part of nature, water. His abstract sculptures also derive from water (and include lakes, quarries and waterfalls). According to the artist, such pieces “capture the essence and the existence in nature.” Such delineation suggests an archetypical and mythical theme, the sculptures’ shapes recalling rising and falling, life and death. [expand]

Ross’s realistic photographs also feature water in the form of lakes and waves, lakes reflecting a double image of majestic mountains. Such subjects are captured at different times of the day, but always convey nature’s primitive and serene musings. Ross’s waves are perhaps more dramatic, with movement playing a large part in their effectiveness. One work shows a wave about to break; in another, the wave has already crashed. We are reminded of Hunt’s images, which also rise and fall, his mythical idea of life and death. We also recall that certain natural elements have a dual nature; in this case, water can connote beginning or the end.

Meyrowitz’s series, “Wind Beneath My Wings,” is a tribute to her late husband who had Alzheimer’s disease. As such, it becomes a graphic journal about her care-giving experiences transformed into the form of eight, mostly graphite, drawings. The recurring bird becomes a mythical metaphor, and like water, evokes a contradictory symbol of life and death. The series is created in an expressionistic style, appropriate for the emotional qualities being conveyed.

Each bird appears differently, perhaps representing the diverse stages that Meyrowitz was going through. Some, like “It’s the Heart That Matters” seem almost human, thoughtful and reflective. Another bird, like “The Guardian,” sits vulnerable in its nest, afraid. Illustrations made a year before (2007) like “Cry” give the bird less expression; it is dependent, an object imbedded in its nest. Meyrowitz’s dense twigs and branches predominate.

In “Persephone” (2007), a bird with outspread wings overlooks the swamp, a plant form in the foreground. Does this object represent the unknowable or the unreachable?

Meyrowitz’s most expressive work is “The Shrike” (2008), where the bird’s face reflects a myriad of emotions: anger, despair and hopelessness. It is a striking work.

 

The exhibit will be on view until July 31 at Guild Hall (158 Main Street, East Hampton). Call 631-324-0806. [/expand]

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