Pottery and Painting at the Drawing Room

Most established art galleries have a “signature” they can hang their hat on: they are known for a specific genre, style or even artist. East Hampton’s The Drawing Room is not unique in this regard. Yet it’s unusual in another regard, with an identity that relies on materials, ambience and other traits that we can’t explain easily. Simply put, the venue focuses on art using outstanding materials, often eloquent in design and execution. The works are often whimsical as well.

The current exhibition is no exception. Featuring ceramic sculpture by Diane Mayo and paintings by Sharon Horvath, the show celebrates arresting media and formal qualities. Consider Mayo’s pottery pieces (which she might call “pots”). They seem a far cry from the work she’s most identified with–large vessels delineating animals and birds. Such subjects loomed large in our imagination, recalling birds, for example, that had human personalities. Mayo was (and is) an expert at personification. (Her new works do not have animals. Instead, she uses other forms of articulation, like handles, cups, spouts and, naturally, color.)

Yet animals may still be on Mayo’s mind, odd as the idea seems. While she says she was inspired by Desmond Morris’ collection of Cypriot art, it’s hard to forget that he is still most known for the book, The Naked Ape, detailing how human behavior is like that of other animals. The point is this: Morris sees a connection between different species. So does Mayo. Her sculptures (as a species) take on human dimensions. They are not merely forms and shapes. They live and breathe like people.

The fact that Mayo’s work may replicate ancient pottery is another comparison we could make. For example, large bowl-like bases are part of Cypriot vessels as are Mayo’s ceramics. Yet Mayo’s works have shorter necks than Cypriot art. No matter. Mayo has an eloquent style all her own.

So does painter Horvath, who is inspired by the environment rather than ancient art, specifically “physical space—land, water and air.” Yet this critic also sees the importance of forms in her work as well. Consider “Tidal” which resembles a huge wave leaping up into the air. Or even a monster about to pounce on unsuspecting individuals. In a nutshell, the image is intriguing, conjuring up all sorts of configurations.

Such shapes are given dramatic weight with Horvath’s various perspectives. For example, “Blueberry Boat” presents a bird’s eye view of a swimming pool, allowing spectators to imagine diving into the water. The same is true of “Red Road,” where viewers believe they are hurtling toward an abyss.

Such perspectives evoke a sense of movement, drawing people into the image. There’s a kind of interactive activity which ensues, making Horvath’s paintings living, breathing entities. In this way, her works are coincidently similar to those of Mayo’s as they are also eloquent and often whimsical.

Work by Diane Mayo and Sharon Horvath is on view at The Drawing Room, 66 Newtown Lane in East Hampton through January 6. Call 631-324-5016 for more information. www.drawingroom-gallery.com

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