The "Mapping: Outside/Inside" show at the Gershman Y expands the scope of map-reading in a lively group display that extends from painting with a brush to images involving digital mapping software. Its four featured artists demonstrate how varied today's map art can be.
What's remarkable is the artists' range of styles and techniques in a new synthesis, a layering of energies that brings into focus different periods and influences. The authority of their summation is best seen in works by Joyce Kozloff and Leila Daw.
Kozloff in particular didn't phase out one format and style as she found another. She's dealt with them simultaneously to some degree because she has an integrating vision, which also seems true of Daw.
Both show their love of nature and ethnic culture in themes that surface here, and convey the power of visual impact charged with the beauty of color. Daw's are scintillating, while Kozloff's high color is always combined with muted tones in her nautical maps. These two, winningly, seem to have an instinct for the age in which we live.
Nikolas Schiller, working with aerial maps, makes complex new patterns by altering them digitally, and his most inspired pieces are the ones that look easy. Convinced each of us has the capacity to change things, Schiller believes that to change the world, we should start with maps.
Eve Andree Laramee questions things by painting faux-scientific maps that reflect her lyrical decorative talent. And she's quite aware of current considerations about technology's digital/virtual spaces and the fragile ecologies of Earth's environment.
Mapping may not be the quintessential art of our era. But it's a good idea to become aware of artists actually speaking a pure 21st-century language such as these four seem to be doing with their work.
Meanwhile, adjoining this display is an agreeably complementary solo show, "Capturing Sky: Pinhole Photos by Masaaki Kobayashi."
The most striking feature of "Eye to Eye: Paintings and Drawings by Paul DuSold & Ben Solowey" is that in it, the Studio of Ben Solowey has found an especially effective way of reusing the past, maintaining continuity, and embracing the new. In that regard, the show is a classic.
The aura of the 34-acre Solowey farm, setting for the exhibition, is of course very welcoming, and paintings by Solowey, who died in 1978, fill one room of the studio. They were selected not by a curator but by painter Paul DuSold - an important distinction - whose own oil paintings fill the next room.
The "fit" of this young Chestnut Hill artist in the wonderfully bucolic setting is strikingly appropriate. The works most personally significant to DuSold are still lifes, also a Solowey passion. DuSold has a strong old-master touch but occasionally offers subtle clues, like a crumpled paper napkin, that his painting was done today, not centuries ago. Details matter to both - the only flowers Solowey painted in his still lifes were those he grew himself. (A glance at his still-well-tended garden bears this out.)
DuSold, who doesn't do landscapes, included some of Solowey's in the show. But both have painted the human figure and portraits, and on June 19 at 2:30, DuSold will give a portrait-painting demonstration in this studio, the first artist to do so since 1978. The public is invited. The eyes have it.
Linda Dubin Garfield and Rich Dunbrack share a show at Z Gallery in West Chester. Wynnewood's Garfield relies on both chance and choice as she moves rapidly among printmaking, photography, collage, and digital imagery. Omitting most historical references from her art, she often prefers abstraction, her scatterings of mottled colors exuding a tranquillity heightened by the exuberance of textured surfaces.
Rich Dunbrack of Martha's Vineyard - engineer, former defense subcontractor, and now a full-time artist - salvages found objects, "things that speak to you," he says. These include weather vanes, exterior molding, fence posts, front-porch columns, carriages, and cherub statues. He makes furniture out of them, muscular stuff.
Dunbrack's approach is not a studious revival of a particular era but far more casual, suggesting that his guiding principle is improvisation, not control. Whatever the shortcomings of these brash, homey, one-of-a-kind pieces, their range and abundance (he does about 100 pieces a year) are their strength, and within his reach.