While the concept of white as a color is frequently debated, the facts boil down to this: When white is light, it is a combination of all colors, visible when projected through a prism or a nice big diamond; when white is pigment, it's the absence of all color (with black being the presence of all colors). White as pigment and light not only appears in nature, of course, but has also attached to it a host of Western cultural perceptions: purity and cleanliness and its subsequent domination of the bridal and angel's-robe industry. In some Eastern cultures, however, white represents death and mourning, something that could await a traveler stranded in Egypt's lifeless white-sand deserts. In SCAPE Gallery's new show, "Lux: Variations On a White Theme," both types of white are on display in artworks that contain echoes and outlines of the multidimensional worlds represented by this sometimes-color.
Michael Kalish's White Rose, a rough-edged and dented model of one of nature's most symbolic blooms, sprouts boldly from discarded auto-body parts and might give poet Robert Burns pause for thought over his red, red love. Brad Howe's mobile-esque sculpture Kelp also refurbishes nature in stainless steel, featuring outlines of not only the slimy, briny variety, but also perhaps items that might be caught in a drift of the wet weeds depending upon your imagination; mine was not so logical when it showed me a painter's palette, a bowling ball and a baseball mitt, but then again, that's why it's called your imagination. Own it.
Julie Easton's rubber-dipped Morning Glories offers a quaint, rinky-dink field of powder-coated blossoms, with a few stray black buds thrown in, while Masami Tsuchikawa's untitled series of porcelain and pin clusters evokes images of delicate alabaster anthers, the pollen generators in all flora. Also finding reflection in nature is Danis McDermott's Feather (1-4), in which four graphite and encaustic panels present a piece of nature trapped beneath beeswax as a specimen for study under a microscope or as an icy fossil waiting to be chipped free.
"Lux: Variations on a White Theme" at SCAPE Gallery, www.scapesite.com. Open Tues.-Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Through June. 4. Free.
Ann Mallory's ceramics form a triage of oversized spring and late-summer bounties with the blanched, pear-like Stem With Fruit #3, the gold-threaded Hommage d'Oignon and the chalky Casing #21, which potentially could cocoon a very grand butterfly or very small unruly child. Likewise, Chris Piazza and Gwynn Murrill see distinct images in the cast bronze Impression, which seems much like a tree spirit emerging from a paper bag, and Cougar, a porcelain bust of the regal cat.
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Venturing into the abstract and inviting in color as light, Dean Andrews presents seven canvases in his Trans Lux series, each composed of acrylic squares and bars with glass microspheres on linen, offering a shimmering, refined look at the varying shades of white. An entire wall of reflections appears in Scott McMillan's exceptional Pearly Whites, an assemblage of recycled car metals and acrylic on a panel; the title should be taken literally, not orthodontically. Colleen Collett's paper sculptures are also aptly titled, since they could conjure up a thousand-chambered hive or an oceanic reef into which creatures of all kinds might dwell in both light and shadow–it's all how you look at it. Pegan Brooke's trio of oils on canvas and linen provoke a similar mindset, envisioning a beachside morning sunrise and light-reflecting ripples on the sea. And finally, weather-beaten terra firma void of all moisture and life makes an appearance in Dennis Ekstrom's impressive Morning Light, an enormous slab of cracked acrylic on modified copolymer that does indeed remind how brittle and barren our landscape can be.
With so much white to go around, such a show could be a wipeout instead of whiteout, of course. Fortunately, curators Jeannie Denholm and Diane Nelson chose with care, selecting an array of textures, patterns and repetition that not only keeps the retinal cones perky, but also encourages our minds to seek deeper vision and meaning in the ivory entities. And with summer coming along, replete with white bodies awaiting tans, white sails from windsurfers flapping over the waves and trendy white pants sure to resurface on the boardwalk, there's no better artsy way to kick it all off than an afternoon excursion to this Corona del Mar exhibit where you can take a dive once more into the bleach.
This review appeared in print as "White's Power: SCAPE Gallery's new show offers a host of themes on the emblematic, enigmatic sometimes-color."