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May 22, 2013

Art: Louisville’s eleven

Zephyr Gallery presents 11 of our finest local artists

If you are looking to become more familiar with local artists, the group show “RHQRDWBWTHR” at Zephyr Gallery is a great place to start. The title for the show itself is an amalgam of the artists’ initials and features works by 11 artists who currently show with the gallery.

In the lower level, Brenda Wirth’s botanical photographs beam through the front windows with kaleidoscopic energy. Bluebells, peonies and azaleas are bisected and mirrored against each other, creating a Rorschach-like double butterfly wing effect. My favorite of the group of 10 is “Forsythia Knot,” which shows off her attention to detail in modifying the photos — it has a tremendous number of forsythia branches connecting to themselves, creating a dense network of branches and blooms, set against a cerulean sky.

Michael Ratterman’s abstract wood sculptures stand across from Kenneth Hayden’s sepia and color photographs of Florida palm trees, which evoke the feeling of looking at something high up in bright midday sun. These photos pack a lot of ambiance into what could have essentially been a landscape shot. They project a kind of uneasy, strung-out moodiness, transforming them into something more like landscape portraits.

Upstairs, Reba Rye’s drawings of nude models, which are composed of anatomical crevasses at the center of intense blushes of color, are both subtle and suggestive; the contrast between the explicitness of the drawing is balanced by the restraint of the blank page that surrounds it. Orange and red whirlpools of pure color direct the eye to her demure lines and energize the work against the background of white. J.P. Begley’s “CM Series” of photos shares the room with Rye and is a meditation on the act of observation and interpretation.

Using planes of flat pattern and depth, Sharon Weis’ diptych features a seated female figure holding open a multi-patterned robe, staring into the sky and then conversely at the ground. Her use of subject matter and patterns evokes interplay between Western and Eastern forms of illustration and make the diminutive work seem both meditative and allegorical.

In the final room of the show, Letitia Quesenberry makes a tribute to the relationship between musician Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Following in the tradition of her recent works, Quesenberry covers the photographic images — in this case, an iconic photo of Smith taken by Mapplethorpe — with layers of wax, obscuring the details of the picture.

The compositions in wax make you want to peer into them and see if you can make out any secret under the surface. Beside the photo is a small white shelf with the words “wake up arms, delicate feet,” which appear inverted on the wall beneath when the light shines through the hollow letters. It’s an interesting marriage of the work of Smith and Mapplethorpe — her poetry and his signature use of harsh and contrasting lighting make this piece magical.

Recommended for your next First Friday Trolley Hop trolling; “RHQRDWBWTHR” is worth the walk.

Through June 22
(Opening Reception: June 7)
Zephyr Gallery
610 E. Market St. • 585-5646 

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