B y M a r g a r e t R e g a n
OVER ON PENNINGTON Street, tucked into a storefront between Ace Rubber Stamp and a leasing office, is a new little gallery called Eclectic. Opened by William J. Tisch some seven months ago, the place specializes in works by local artists who, Tisch says, haven't been able to break into the gallery scene. If that familiar lament is a red flag, raising a worry that standards will be lax, the current show, at least, puts that fear to rest.
Small Works, a juried show of 64 works by artists from around the country, has some tiny gems. (Twelve of the 35 artists are from Tucson.) Painting, photographs, drawings and sculpture, none taller or wider than about 12 inches, are all represented, with an emphasis on unusual media and techniques. Patricia Menick of Wisconsin, for instance, has contributed a trio of sculptures made out of "soft-carved" cement. They're small--"White Form No. 11" is about a foot tall--and nicely textured, each one a sleek abstraction in curving organic shapes. Theresa Spadafora of New York used a mix of media, encaustic, oils and collage on wood, for her painting "Middle Ground." She's painted dull orange and green patches over a printed book page, partially obscuring the words and making the work a mysterious text.
There are some fine little paintings. Cindi Laukes, a Tucsonan who works as a science researcher at the UA and apparently does art on the side, contributed "Adjoining Forces," a wax and oil on paper. Laukes used a delicate limited palette of gray, white and beige for her harmonious composition of geometric shapes. Likewise the first-prize winner, Ania Gola-Kumor, of Fort Collins, Colorado, applied subdued oranges, golds and greens in her mixed-media painting on paper, "Composition I." Its rhythmic lines and kicky urban shapes suggest a jazzy streetscape. A pair of painters delving into figurative subjects have both handled the paint nicely. Tucsonan Monika Rossa's work is an expressionistic, and unsentimental, view of a child's violin, boldly painted in a rich red brown and gold leaf, and outlined in black. Julie S. Mahoney of Illinois turned in a luscious little oil on canvas of mushrooms.
Photography makes a good showing, too. Local photographer Elaine Querry, fresh from a show at Pima Community College, picked up the show's second prize with her "Angel del Espejo," an emulsion transfer of a carved and painted head. Thanks to the emulsion transfer, this angel floats against a dreamy, fluid background. Another Querry, "Dos Manos Blancos," has a small, mesmerizing image of two handprints on a car window.
Tisch has scored a little hit with this big little show, which he judged along with Tucson painter Beata Wehr. It helps that it was juried, and that the competition was open to artists around the country. But his future plans are ambitious. Next up, he says, will be a realism show in February that pointedly will not include Clichéd Southwestern art. Proving that the gallery really is eclectic, Tisch has arranged for the following show to be a juried exhibition of abstract art. Wehr will judge again, along with Marsha Goldberg, a local painter of geometric abstracts.
Eclectic is a bit off the beaten art track on Pennington, a block north of Congress' artsy hubbub, but Tisch is hoping the street's atmosphere will change. His dream is that Pennington will provide a serious art alternative to the current crop of arts and crafts shops on Congress Street. He hears another gallery might go in at number 40, where the old Shoe City sign hangs, and he says the other empty storefronts dotting the street would make fine homes for other new galleries. Tisch is a financial consultant who's always dabbled in art but never worked in the arts biz before (his own studio is in back). But he's finding it's not that hard to set up a gallery.
"I've never done anything like this before. I bought $200 in used track lights, some cans of paint and a bucket of nails. And now all kinds of things are happening here."
Small Works continues through January 31 at Eclectic Gallery, 69 E. Pennington St. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon until 7 p.m. Thursday for Art Walk and 7 to 10 p.m. on Downtown Saturday Nights. On January 3, the gallery will resume its drop-in figure drawing classes from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays. The fee is $5. For holiday hours and information, call 620-1668.
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