There’s always a lovely sense of synergy in the group shows at Indigo Art, Elisabeth Samuels’ small, two-tiered gallery on the eastern end of Allen Street.
It has something to do with the way Samuels installs the work, always giving it space to breathe, never crowding the walls. It’s also about the way the pieces hanging on the wall or sitting on pedestals – different in form and style though they may be – rarely seem to clash with one another. The small space also does not make unreasonable demands on the viewer: The return on your investment of 15 or 20 minutes is substantial.
That harmony is certainly present in “Bounty,” an exhibition featuring 13 regional artists whose work Samuels has characterized as vaguely “poetic.” What exactly that means is open to interpretation, but there is certainly a sense of innate elegance and grace that seems to unite all the paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works the show contains.
Likely to catch your eye first are Jozef Bajus’ two paper “poems,” white sheets of paper with evenly spaced vertical slits. Together, these lovely pieces look like what might happen if your paper shredder suddenly took on a mind of its own and decided to pursue an artistic career.
Elsewhere, Hillary Fayle presents a series of small leaves into which she has sliced intricate patterns with an X-Acto knife or woven with thread, projecting her own kind of artificial complexity onto the already inordinately complex natural world.
Dorothy Fitzgerald’s three small-scale paintings in the show are much more focused and easy on the eyes than her larger-scale work, which can sometimes be off-putting and difficult to decode. Here, Fitzgerald has taken a simpler approach, and while the effects are perhaps not as loud or jarring as her more ambitious paintings, they provide plenty of food for thought.
But the star of this show may be Dennis Nahabetian, the Western New York sculptor and jewelry artist whose strange vessels made out of wire mesh prompt viewers to wonder what they might be for. Nahabetian’s pieces, a kind of jellyfish-shaped seacraft supported by long tentacles and a strange, vaguely Egyptian vessel for some unknown purpose, seem to be just on the verge of having a practical use. They are, in that way, a little bit like Robert Gober’s sculptures (see the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s “Inverted Sink”) which confound us by referencing shapes we recognize and morphing them into unfamiliar – and maybe even unsettling – configurations.
Jody Hanson gives us a pair of strange and strangely alluring pieces – framed sheets with little bits of a pink, crystalline substance dripped onto them – from her most recent series. And there is fine work as well from printmaker Hyeyoung Shin, sculptor Bethany Krull and assemblage artist Ellen Markel.
In all, the work in “Bounty” lives up to Samuels’ descriptor, from grace and elegance of Bajus’ paper work to the unexpectedly quiet work of Fitzgerald and the otherworldly objects of Nahabetian. If it’s visual poetry you’re searching for, you’ll find plenty of it here.