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  • Howard Rutkowski

International Women’s Day – Celebrating Women Artists at David Richard Gallery


Catherine Howe, Carborundum and Silver (Mantis), 2016, Acrylic, encaustic, metal leaf, carborundum grit on canvas, 48" x 36"

In my long travels I learned early that most artists reject labels, preferring to be known by their work, rather than where they come from, the color of their skin or their gender. Still, whether they inform the work or not, people still feel these hyphenated additions useful, if not important. Not to long ago at an opening for a show I curated in Santa Fe, a local art critic commented on the absence of women artists. My thoughts at the time were that a visual presentation should focus on concept and content and not come with a multi-cultural/mixed gender checklist. Most artists would, I am sure, agree.

Subject, message and position have been intertwined with visual art practice since the cave painters of Lescaux. Still, we should approach imagery from a formal aesthetic construct first, then, look to the message later. Regardless of what a painting is trying to say, it still has to be good.

There are five women artists showing at the David Richard Gallery; three in its current exhibition New Baroque: The Imperfect Pearl and two to be included in the next show The Narrative Figure. All satisfy the requirement that the work must be vigorous and intelligent and therefore successful in formal terms. Yet each approaches the making of art a very different ways.

Catherine Howe’s focus is on process. Beginning with the tradition of still life painting, the complex amalgam of materials – almost a chemical reaction – send the representational origin far into abstraction.

Leila Farcas-Ionescu, Young Couple 1, Porcelain, stoneware, engobes, glazes, silver, 13 x 15 "

Magic-Realism is the source of Laila Farcas-Ionescu romantically spooky ceramic sculpture. They possess a medieval or Renaissance appearance that suggests a fantasy narrative – a Game of Thrones in clay.

Angela Fraleigh imbeds a clear, yet subtle point of view in her swirling, multi-color canvases of female figures appropriated from Baroque and Rococo painting. Her compositions move these women from the objectified role they played in the original paintings and by creating a veil between them and the viewer, provide them with their own private identities.

Angela Fraleigh, Watching the Moon Move, 2015, Oil on canvas, 48" x 60"

Not noticeable at first glance, the porcelain and mixed media sculpture of Daisy Quezade carries the most searing of messages – that of the physical and psychological abuse of women in Latino culture. The human figures are not visible in the actual work, but are represented by the clothing that become vestiges of their existence.

Daisy Quezada, Arbol de Violencia No. 5, 2014, Porcelain, plexiglass. Courtesy Daisy Quezada.

The painted, collaged compositions of Tschabalala Self are, on the other hand, celebrations of black women. There is strength and confidence in these representations and the figures stand for a matter-of-fact acceptance of existence and identity.

So yes, these are five extremely talented and serious artists who just happen to be women and like good artists anywhere they deserve the support of the entire art community and the general public.

Howard Rutkowski

Santa Fe

2016 March 08

#DaisyQuezada #AngelaFraleigh #HowardRutkowski #DavidRichardGallery #TheNarrativeFigure #NewBaroqueTheImperfectPearl #LailaFarcasIonescu #CatherineHowe

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