Art Commentary: Bilotta, Corey And Howe At Crazy Monkey Gallery

Amagansett’s Crazy Monkey Gallery distinguishes itself by being the only co-operative art venue in the area; this itself is an achievement. It has also been in business for several years, having outlived other galleries that have, unfortunately, had to close. We don’t know the ins and outs of co-ops, but there surely must have been many challenges to overcome. Frankly, we’d like to know how The Crazy Monkey did it.

The current exhibit with three artists may offer a partial answer. The work is articulate, stylistically varied and interesting to view. The material used also gets our attention. Consider abstract work by Lance Corey like “The Teacher” and “The Lover”: his latex on wood gives the pieces a special texture and enhances the wide brush strokes, splashes of paint and sometimes geometric forms.

While Corey’s art seems to convey formal aesthetic qualities, his background indicates that he has diverse academic and cultural experiences. For example, he has degrees in Communication Arts, Philosophy, Theology and International Relations. He has studied in Egypt and China on Fulbright Scholarships and taught in New York City for 22 years. Such experiences give a hint of his world view seen in his paintings: simple and often primordial.

Abstracts by Barbara Bilotta also possess texture in their employment of acrylic with resin, including “Hawkeye.” This texture, however, is not literal since her surfaces seem shinny and slick, all the more reason to experience their impact. One such painting appears to mirror the inside of the body, heart and arteries galore. It is both disturbing and beautiful. Another white and purple piece recalls ink running to and fro, thus the representation of movement.  With Bilotta’s work, the more you look the more you see.

Wilhelmina Howe’s paintings seem to concern stasis, the opposite of the motion we see in Bilotta’s art. The works define interior space; some are simply corners of rooms which are often more intriguing because we wonder what the entire room looks like. And more importantly, we wonder what kind of people live here. Howe’s style is disconcerting and for a reason. She starts with realism, perhaps deriving from her photography background, but ends with a slight distortion.

For example, her overstuffed chairs are not exactly “real,” reminding us a bit of Maria Schon’s realistic but abstract chairs that serve as metaphors. A “mumblecore” film (The Puffy Chair) also comes to mind for this critic, “mumblecore” designating an independent, low budget work with little production values, like a home movie. Often, the non-professional actors seem to “mumble.” This doesn’t mean Howe’s chairs look shabby on purpose.  Rather, they come from a different place and time, maybe the ‘50s, and perhaps provide a metaphor for the chairs’ owners. The fact that Howe majored in psychology may help explain the connotative use of non-verbal elements (furniture).

This show will be on view at The Crazy Monkey in Amagansett until April 30. The gallery is located at 136 Main Street. Call 631-267-3627 for hours and days.

 

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