Gallery gossip

• A Saturday afternoon tour of a few galleries after the season’s last downtown crawl was less than inspiring. Work at Push was edgy, (some curtained off with a sign saying only those 18 and above could enter) but most everything else was tourist-oriented and safe, or a little less-than-ready for exhibition. Artemisia fared as well as any with Dean Lettenstrom’s dark little painting called “Chair for Nancy”, and Aaron Tucker’s small square colleges with geometric shapes forming boats and buildings. Celia Gray’s paintings of figures in blurry, undefined spaces offered a pleasant pastel-colored contrast to the other works in the gallery. Ken Abbott’s photos of the un-gentrified parts of the river district are rich in color and content.

• William McCullough’s painterly landscapes provided relief from the “every leaf on every tree” works at 16 Patton and the excessively decorative works at the Haen Gallery, but were outdone by those of Kate Worm at Minerva. The Will Henry Stevens landscapes at Blue Spiral were executed in somber colors: dark grays, purples, and blues. They somehow served as a sad reminder of the forest and farm land we’ve lost to greed since the era in which they were painted. Stevens’ abstract works are lively and bright. The new works by Suzanne Stryk echo the muted colors found in Stevens’ paintings, and — in spite of some lovely brush work — seem a little constrained. Work by Eleanor Miller in a similar vein, but with lighter colors and larger format, is on display at Minerva.

• There was nothing in the Peep Show at the Arts Council gallery requiring the “18 and over” sign found at Push. A theme show in a small town means that participating artists must stop what they are doing (that is, if they are laboring seriously on a body of work) to create something relating to the theme. This is not always a good thing. Margaret Nodine’s two quirky little paintings, which may be something she had on hand that could fit into the show, were fun.

• Asheville’s matriarch of painters, Marie Hudson, has a selection of her crow paintings at Minerva, and Pauline Tennant’s hand-printed linocuts are outstanding in the Asheville Gallery of Art. There were a number of paintings in several venues that were shiny — really, really basketball-court shiny. Most of them would benefit from a little less gloss.

• The Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt University has produced an impressive thirty-two page catalogue for UNCA professor Virginia Derryberry. There are big color reproductions of Derryberry’s paintings, a preface by gallery director Carol Stein, an essay by SECCA curator David Brown, and an interview with the artist by Virginia Spivey.

• It’s a shame that Dianne Cable’s ten day exhibition at UNCA couldn’t have stayed up longer. Cable’s draftsmanship is unquestioned, but she has put down her pencil and picked up the hot-glue gun! The exhibition also included some great little sculptures made of Sculpey.

• The juried show at Grace Church had several interesting works. Paul Frehe’s sculpture of a Buddah figure, emblazoned with anime characters, holds aloft a jubilant rising sun flag. Daniel Smith’s “Leap of Faith” is a painting of a bright red dolphin crashing through a concrete highway. Meg Winnecour’s still life is serene and painterly, and the first place winner, Michael McChesney’s accomplished “Excelsior Lutheran Church — Western Kansas” harks back to the early part of the 20th century and works by Hopper and O’Keeffe.

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