A quartet show artistry in Abington

Heather Ujiie's textile installation , "Resurrection," makes an environmental statement.
Heather Ujiie's textile installation , "Resurrection," makes an environmental statement.

In the Solo Series 2012 exhibition.

Posted: June 01, 2012

Abington Art Center's Solo Series 2012 exhibition, featuring four area artists, leads off with Heather Ujiie's spectacular envronmental piece Resurrection, a mural-esque textile installation that evokes the survival of untamed nature as an irreducible, lyrical presence. This Langhorne designer's patterned narrative combines painting by hand, drawing, stitching, and large-format digital painting. The loose richness of her elaborate inkjet images - animals, birds, and a kneeling figure in the light of dawn - shows keen interest in interpreting light with embroidered clusters of highly reflective glassy beads.

Ujiie's capacity for minute description disguises a more private vision; in both form and content, this piece reminds me of Dante's passage from purgatory to paradise. Yet the artist deliberately invokes our own century by pushing the archaic quality of the stylized animals and figure until they seem timeless.

Lorraine Glessner of Rockledge creates surfaces of fulminating artistry, combining encaustic, horsehair, beeswax, silk, and rust. Her ability to retain process as part of her work's end result involved rethinking of the role both of her materials and of the tools she uses instead of a brush. These are largely abstract paintings often dense with encaustic and showing an interest in texture and line. Glessner is a master of achingly exact and unusual technique.

Colin Keefe of Mount Airy has the bucking, hereditary energy of a prolific sketcher. Using pen and ink, he draws maps of imaginary cities that have grown organically, based upon environmental conditions, without urban planning. Given the dry linearity of Keefe's drawing style, his work here seems little more than interesting, attractive attempts to explore his methods and theme. Might these be intended as do-able proposals for specific locations, past or present?

Lisa E. Nanni of Yardley shows work involved with the high luminosity of compressed neon and argon gas - 2-D and 3-D artistry of the sort that rests on the integrity of its color effects.

Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Rd., Jenkintown. To July 29. Wed-Fri 10-5, Thu to 7, Sat-Sun 11-4. 215-887-4882.

Ephemeral, eternal

Lanny Sommese, longtime head of graphic design at Pennsylvania State University who also operates his own design studio, is exhibiting 24 posters at Moore in "Off the Wall/On the Wall." Subjects range from seasonal campus events to politics, war and peace, social problems, and gun violence on the homefront.

When willing to settle for simplicity, Sommese displays an impressive sense of abstract rhythm and movement. Using narrative symbols and an open, decorative quality, he renders the topical into the timeless. Even some of his partial figures project a sense of completeness due to their great humanity, the experience of pain and vulnerability having produced flexibility, making them stronger and more human.

Moore College of Art & Design, Parkway at 20th St. To July 31. Mon-Fri 11-7, Sat 11-5. 215-965-4000.

Farewell, and hail

What is it that makes Main Line Art Center's new exhibition an event of moment? First, it proves that Judy Herman, the center's director, cares deeply about regional artists. Second, its timing is eloquent: Herman launched the new "annual" as her last curatorial act before she steps down as director after 24 transformative years.

Called the Professional Artists' Exhibition, it spotlights art center members selected through an application process - 73 artists showing one work apiece in this inaugural display.

As the show blossoms over time with all the colors of real life, as its artists are revealed as full-blooded, wide-ranging individuals, we'll recognize the Professional Artists' Exhibition as vital to the life of regional art. That rewarding take is already in evidence here, in work by Marlene Dubin, Georgianna Grentzenberg, Mary Kane, Meg Kennedy, Diane Lachman, Alice Laputka, Dale Levy, Elaine Lisle, Sandi Lovitz, Bernice Paul, Laura Pritchard, Rona Satten, and Armen Yepoyan, among others.

Main Line Art Center, 746 Panmure Rd., Haverford. To June 13. Mon-Thu 10-8, Fri-Sat 10-4. 610-525-0272.

Photo fantasies

Keith Sharp, a photographer in Media, goes beyond documentation straight to imagination in his "Fabricated" series at Third Street Gallery. Individual experience is foremost in his undogmatic approach to art. Sharp uses color abstractly, and graphically emphasizes the flatness and clarity of surfaces, enlivening the forms' linear value.

And of course he works from direct, literal perceptions of the world around him, doesn't he? Well, yes - except for the props he uses indoors and out. Because he employs these so freely, mundane aspects of ordinary life mix with fantasy at every turn. He experiments with printing images of natural scenes and plants on cotton and silk that he then sews and re-photographs to create digital photocollages or uses to make soft sculptures.

The result: mystery, subtlety, and the assurance his audience will do a double-take.

Third Street Gallery, 58 N. 2d St. To July 1. Wed-Sun 12-5. 215-625-0993.

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