The Southampton Cultural Center’s Flower Show

It’s a perfect time for the latest art exhibit at the Southampton Cultural Center: “The Flower Show.” Curated by Arlene Bujese, the show pays homage not only to spring but also to the Southampton Rose Society, which planted a lovely garden in front of the Center. Let’s face it, flowers are always a draw, no matter where they are located and for whatever reason they exist. Bujese has assembled a group of noteworthy artists for the exhibit, most of whom are recognized for their flower imagery. Even so, some pieces are surprises.

One such example are drawings by Ronnie Chalif, black and white works on porcelain which belie her abstract sculptures and striking pins resembling animals. Yet again, we can see the similarities between her visual images and her signature sculptures and jewelry. Chalif’s drawings seem alive, as the artist’s lines sweep across the canvas. Such movement recalls the animated quality of her three-dimensional creations as well.

Images by Jennifer Cross offer another surprise. Cross’ signature beach settings have always been intriguing because of their mysterious ambience. Her current scenes, like “Turn of the Century” and “Roses in the Studio,” provide a sense of ambiguity and allure that suggests conceptualism. Consider in the former work a vase with beautiful flowers juxtaposed with a somewhat grotesque male figure.

The latter mixed media work on paper seems even more complex: roses (perhaps taken from a photograph) appearing with objects drawn on a board in the background. We wonder how these objects go together.

Gerson Leiber’s portraits of flowers also get our attention, charcoal and pastel enhancing the formal elements of the blossoms. Our favorite is the single flower in a vase, another way that Leiber has accentuated the subject. Conversely, Alice Forman’s bunches of blossoms are accented by blobs of paint. Here the impasto technique is given a dramatic twist when juxtaposed with Forman’s dark background.

Not surprising, but nevertheless striking, are Sue Ferguson Gussow’s somewhat gestural oils on panel. Her buttercups, marigolds and slightly out-of-shape calla lilies evoke an unrealistic world that is whimsical and charming. Charcoal and pastel drawings by Fay Lansner are gestural as well. The artist’s large and sweeping strokes are impressive as usual, the flowers often representing human figures.

Cornelia Foss’ flowers, on the other hand, recall nothing but themselves: delicious, fresh, vibrant pieces of life.

Flower images by Felicia Dell see life a little differently with their asymmetrical composition and intense colors. And speaking of unique world visions, Sheila Isham’s flowers signify mythical symbols where all of nature is connected to each other.

“The Flower Show” will be on view until July 7 at the Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane, Southampton. 631- 287-4377

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