Winter Treasures on Display at Gallery RIVAA

Written by David Stone.

Group shows at the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association’s Main Street Gallery give local art lovers the chance to appreciate the development of its emerging members’ work as well as the ripened fruits of its veterans. Winter Treasures, which opened November 21 and will run through January, is no exception.

This exhibit does that and more. Membership among RIVAA artists reflects the changing, expanding diversity of the Island’s population. The range of influences and flavors is more evident than ever.

An immediate and lyrical example is four stylistically connected works by Eunkyoung Park, whose recent solo show, Time-Semantics of a Korean Wedding, brought Korean Folk Art to the Octagon Gallery. Park uses muk, a traditional black ink made from the soot of burning natural substances, such as tree resin, oil and seeds. Muk draws out vivid colors added to her designs with natural pigment powders.

As a bonus, Park’s folk artwork is also on display in storefront windows across Main Street, gracefully uplifting otherwise lifeless spaces.

Another artist who has consistently captured attention as she migrates among styles while retaining her gift for color is Toshiko Kitano Groner. Her paired oils, Autumn Passing and Winter, use the language of graphical abstraction to tell the story of movement from one season into the next.

Piaskowski adds her award-winning Horse and Carriage to the exhibit. A photo recently shot on a visit to the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood in Washington D. C., it won the grand prize in a contest held by the Friends of Mitchell Park in November. The photograph captures the design contours of an old fire call box as autumn settles in the background.

Continuing his innovations in photography, Anthony Moran posts three images digitally reimagined in the style of water colors. Jazz Salon flows with musical contours while Saratoga carries the vibrations of a warm summer day into a colder season.

RIVAA pioneer Arline Jacoby’s boundless gift for originality surprises again with three works painted on fabric. The largest, Color the Sparkle of Life, is a joyful statement of her affirmative philosophy. The work itself is an abstract design on, of all things, corduroy – with sparkles sprinkled across its surface.

Among RIVAA’s newest members, Hanne Støvring’s consistency of style demonstrates the confidence and clarity of a young, but established visual artist. Her Flood of Love uses acrylic on canvas to connect abstract figures in liquid fields of emotion. It’s a convincing expression that melds contrasts and complexity without losing its balance.

Dancing, Rachel Garrick’s luminous acrylic on aluminum, pops with electricity and color, among a handful of her smaller works, while Galina Petrov adds five expressive collages inspired by wildflowers and organic grasses.

Laura Hussey’s large Les Enfants du Paradis, continues a visual theme. Placed confidently in a Mediterranean seaside, three youthful, barefoot women turn puzzled, maybe slightly annoyed looks toward the viewer. Hussey’s gentle use of tone and color expresses an earthly paradise in which the women’s question might be, “What are you doing out there?”

In Vale, Yun Hong Ye, imagines a symphonic use of thick textures, composition and color that pleases with its conversation between yellow and blue. Among several of her delicately realized photographs, Anne-Marie Dannenberg’s Bouquet stands out for its radiant medley of reds and whites in floral harmony.

A highlight of any RIVAA group show is seeing what Valeriu Boborelu is up to in finding novel expressions for his spiritual concerns. In two large acrylic compositions, The Mind of Blue Appearance and Space of Green Compassion, Bobo, as he is popularly known, visualizes higher emotions in pulsing vertical webs of visceral awareness.

Along with several dynamic paintings, Tad Sudol brings his sculptural gifts to Collider of Thoughts, a wood and metal construction likening intellectual activity to intersections of quantum particles in subatomic space. It succeeds with an ambition that most artists would never try.

Also impressing with sculpture, Victoria Thorson places her ceramic Fish in the gallery’s Main Street window. Fish infuses soft colors in a solid surface that seems held together by a skeletal framework. You don’t need to see the aquatic creature to appreciate its sensuous contours and joy in colors.

Anna Eppel’s Kneading the Dough is subversive in using muted colors to create what seems, at first, the simple image of a gray-robed nun rolling dough in isolation. A careful viewing discovers that the table is three-legged and the result of all the kneading and rolling: a growing row of shrouded infants with yellow haloes. Eppel’s symbolism is original and effective.

Finally, Ioan Popoiu makes it clear that his progression as master artist continues. Three large acrylics on canvas, titled simply Blue 1, Orange, and Blue 2, go beyond his previous efforts by unifying dynamics with increased power and lyricism. The Blue paintings bookend Orange in a manner that causes the eye to linger in the middle, the variations on this single color filled with subtle harmonies and connections. On each side, the matched set seems to overflow with expressions of fluid abstraction.

In a single gallery show, RIVAA gathers an artistic infusion of influences from America to Denmark, Romania, Japan, Korea and more. Winter Treasures tells us again the story of our local community as the natural home for diversity and culture in our pocket of the world’s greatest melting pot.\

Winter Treasures remains on view at RIVAA’s main gallery at 527 Main Street until January 31. Hours: Wednesdays and Fridays 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Tags: RIVAA Art Reviews David Stone

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