There is a stark contrast between the abstract acrylic paintings of Beth Hammack and the bizarre yet painstaking and thought-provoking mosaics of Brooks Tower in a show at JRB Art at the Elms.
A lively mix of graphite lines with blobs and strokes of paint, and loosely worked, nearly empty background spaces, is found in a large Hammack acrylic which evokes rather than describes the “Florida Keys.”
A dark, oil derrick-like shape, accented by parallel blue lines, with the scratched outlines of some kind of structure at its base, anchors an equally large, vertical rather than horizontal work called “Anadarko.”
Providing a nice change of pace is a large, much more figurative canvas in which a giant, armless, tan-white woman wears a pointy hat, perched precariously atop her crown-like headgear.
Names, slogans, biblical references and graffiti cover the body of this heroic-sized woman, called “American Injustice,” which brings to mind an amalgamation of the Venus de Milo and the Statue of Liberty.
Rough red shapes seem to be expanding beyond the confines of a single rectangle, like states changing their borders, in two smaller, square acrylics, called “Rothko Visited I,” and “Rothko Visited II.”
On display in JRB's Ship Gallery, Tower's mosaics have a quirky, serendipitous appeal and a detailed attention to craft considerations, which transcend easy artistic categorization. A weird, potato-like person in a robe or cape, wearing a tiny red bow tie, throws his skinny arms up to celebrate “The Freedom of Irrelevance,” in one granite, travertine, onyx, marble and ceramic Tower mosaic, for example.
Equally offbeat and irresistible is a mosaic of a plump figure, with a tossed salad-like hairdo, who seems to be riding a red bicycle up the whirling arabesques of a brown cloud into the blue sky itself.
The exhibit by the two Oklahoma City artists is highly recommended during its run.
— John Brandenburg