Edward McHugh's second exhibition of photographs at Gallery 339 shows him moving even further away from his minimal, abstract paintings and prints, in which color is mainly absent, or at least subdued (McHugh also makes minimal geometric sculptures in cast bronze). Several of these large photographs of reflections of wilderness landscapes in rivers, lakes, and ponds are so intensely colored and seemingly illusionistic that they suggest hallucinations.
I looked at Hudson Reflection 2 not knowing its title and thought this image of pink and orange autumn leaves floating in front of brilliantly colored trees was a composite of at least two photographs. When I realized that the entire picture was of a reflection in water, I understood why those "floating" leaves had initially seemed to me to be caught in a clear gel of some kind.
McHugh brushes a final coating of wax on the surface of his prints, too, which heightens his subjects' embedded effect.
Some of his quieter photographs, of boulders in a mirror-still lake under a gray sky, or of a river cascading over a succession of rocks, but shot from a distance, are reminiscent of 19th-century French and American landscape paintings. They are undeniably beautiful, but in a soothing, familiar sort of way. By contrast, McHugh's fractured reflection pictures seem revelatory.
Known for his curatorial project, daily operation (see
» READ MORE: www.dailyoperation.org
), the New York-based independent curator Jon Lutz has been organizing exhibitions in parks, empty lots, artists' studios, and just about every other kind of space you can imagine since 2008. This month and next, Lutz's eye is on display at Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art in "Spotlights," a show of nine artists whom he selected from an open call.
My favorite works: Daniel Petraitis' plaster cast of a white T-shirt on white-painted wood (in an edition of five); Tim Eads' assemblages of plastic shopping bags with lights mounted behind them; Eleanna Anagnos' plaster cast of crumpled paper that seems lit from behind, but isn't (it's painted Pepto Bismol pink on the back), and Jacque Liu's folded-paper construction painted in parallel orange stripes.
Planes, panes, pallets
A smartly paired two-person show of paintings and sculpture by Mike Masyga and paintings by Erin Murray has one more Saturday to go at Mount Airy Contemporary Artists Space.
Masyga's paintings of stacked rectangular forms suggest the detritus common to industrial sites, such as unruly piles of wood pallets; that impression is bolstered by his sculptures of wood, plaster, Structo-Lite, and actual detritus that are surely meant to be his own table-size demolitions.
Murray has painted a series of modernist-influenced houses and commercial buildings that are the poor relatives of the elegant glass rectangles designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. These less fortunate structures have fake mansard roofs slapped on top of them, enormous front windows that reflect the hideous hodgepodge of architecture across the street, or are, perhaps, an abandoned gas station or a two-story early version of the strip mall. But Murray infuses her knock-off architecture with a dark sense of humor. The top of a pine tree sticks up incongruously behind a one-story office building, right in the middle, like a bizarre ornament, in Executive Mansardic; the abandoned gas station in Miesian Influence Loop is shown from the back, as if embarrassed.