Two artists react to “Nature” in radically different ways — but with masterful technique — in a pair of concurrent shows by sculptor Don Narcomey and painter Liz Roth at JRB Art at The Elms, 2810 N Walker.
“Symbiotic” is the title of one work by Narcomey, but it might also stand for the at times contradictory, more often complementary, relationship between the Edmond artist, his craftmanship and natural materials.
Dark wooden “teeth” hold together the two parts of a pale, egglike wooden shape, cracked roughly in half, and pierced by copper wires that seem to cradle a wooden, heartlike organ, near its center, in “Symbiotic.”
More lyrical is a Narcomey work in which a wooden wave appears to “Splash” up from its base, and a second in which a gestural root figure seems to strike a “Dance” pose on one leg, in front of rusted metal.
Whitened, branchlike shapes traverse a rusted steel plane, interspersed with roots, and bits of metal, in Narcomey’s “The Day I Found You,” a painting-like work whose title could refer to romance or its found elements.
White shapes seem to sprout, like antlers, from the split, rusted metal and wooden body of Narcomey’s “Voyager,” a sculpture whose overall shape suggests a ship, exploring external or internal mysteries.
More self-contained is “Whole (Forty-Five),” a Narcomey wall work consisting of the cross-section of a weathered log, adorned with multicolored metal inserts, its circumference festooned with rusty spikes.
A wooden “Flower” blossoms atop a pale stalk, growing from a dirt-dark wooden base, and polyurethane foam forms resemble empty ice-cream cones, inside a mattress, in two more works by Narcomey.
Roth, an Oklahoma State University art professor, offers dramatic views “from the rim” of the Grand Canyon, in her “Chasm” series of oil paintings, based on drawings and photos.
The view from “Lippon Point” is bracketed on one side by a large rock formation, which she leaves nearly blank, except for sketchy outlines, in one large, otherwise meticulous drawing, done on the South Rim in 2011.
But the same formation is clothed in brown-black shadows, making it contrast with the bright light and blue-gray shadows of the rest of the canyon, in her large, 30-by-96-inch “Lippon Point Diptych” oil painting.
Massive foreground formations of red sandstone contrast nicely with the more distant, blue-hued ones behind them, in Roth’s 30-by-48-inch oil painting of “Bright Angel Point: North Rim.”
Roth also does a good job of exploiting modestly tilted planes and the interplay of shadows with a patchwork of varied but never overstated colors in her oils of “Monument Creek” and “Powell Point.”
Roth said in a statement that in her work she tries to contrast “the quality of direct visual experience” with that mediated through a camera lens.
“I wanted to slow down the pace of seeing, and encourage people to re-experience the pleasures of sustained looking,” she said of the show, which contains oil paintings, watercolor studies, drawings and a relief print.
The Narcomey and Roth exhibits are highly recommended during their run through July 31.
— John Brandenburg,
for The Oklahoman
‘Nature’ — works by Don Narcomey and Liz Roth