At Shift Gallery, March 2nd-April 1st, 2017
Walking into the gallery, it is immediately clear that architecture and the ever-changing landscape are core components for both artists showing this month. Carolyn Gracz and Rachel Holloway have paired themselves skillfully to make a show referencing the built environment housed in a stark, angular gallery space. The result is remarkably emotive.
Rachel Holloway had been painting landscapes for six years, but since 2011 has artfully angled toward the built environment. Relatively new to the Northwest, her most recent works echo the building boom in Seattle and reference our local environment, where she is calmed by the somberness and mood even as the paintings come forth crisp and vibrant.
Her works are a formal playing of color, shape, pattern and movement. Facades, light, shadow, reflections – all are interspersed with blocks of color that playfully mimic the rapid growth of houses and tower blocks. Iconic Seattle buildings are deconstructed and left to straddle between representation and abstraction, a technique she calls “abstraction from realism.” It is in keeping with her goal of creating an image that, she says, nearly misses its mark. Similar to André Masson’s “automatic drawings” (made while blindfolded), she takes random snapshots in hopes of capturing that lurking or unconscious image, or tricking the mind into recognizing what was there the whole time.
Working from such snapshots allows her to capture this essence, refine it, and distill it further. The end result feels complete and true, and carries an emotional weight not always captured in work based on buildings.
Carolyn Gracz had recently traveled to Ireland, and the prints in her show Land Marks were inspired by both the ancient and contemporary Irish landscape. The pieces represent the structures as well as the crossings and markings of the human imprint on the land. She found herself chasing down remote ring forts and exploring the stone circles and Ogham stones of the Beara Peninsula. Traveling through the Dingle Peninsula she discovered her own pilgrimage route as she blazed a trail to the Gallarus Oratory, Kilmalkedar Church, beehive huts, promontory forts and ancient castle ruins. She said “these experiences left me wondering at the settlements of past and present existing side by side, and also amazed by the often overlaying of one another. These overlapping ancient Irish monuments, contemporary architecture, and the diffused light and shadows of Ireland all intersect, meld together and find a place in my artwork.”
Her art reflects this amazement and wonder by utilizing techniques that layer color, form, and line. Nuance and charm are layered in as well. The viewer begins to wonder how she fashioned them. Lightness is layered with intent, and composition utilizes a strong design element. The petite ones that hang in rows are particularly enticing. It is difficult to choose just one. The larger framed works hold more density but are equally satisfying. Through lovely suggestions of structures, she effectively blends intersecting worlds in beautifully rendered prints.