Saturday, October 20th — Saturday, November 24th
Oxford Gallery's upcoming exhibit, Transformations, features work by three area artists: Anthony Dungan, Phyllis Bryce Ely, and Barbara Page. The exhibit begins Saturday, October 20 and continues through Saturday, November 24.
A reception for the artists is planned for Saturday, October 27th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. It is open to the public.
Phyllis Bryce Ely, Keuka Bluff
Those of us from the north country will probably recognize in the landscapes and cityscapes of Phyllis Bryce Ely a certain kinship to the style of Canada's Group of Seven. Although rooted in specific tines and places, they communicate more by ideogram than by actual representation. Small conical forms are trees, while large rounded forms are hills. Swirling bands of white are clouds, with the source of light indicated by the blockish "shadows," and garish skyscrapers crowd us in almost human fashion.
Even the perspectives are often contorted in a way best described by Northrup Frye in reference to the Group of Seven painters: "One notices in these paintings how the perspective is so frequently a twisting and scanning perspective, a canoeman's eye peering around the corner to see what comes next." The image has been stripped of all non-essentials, allowing us to confront the elemental force of nature or the monumentality of the cityscape. The result is an image of almost mystical power.
Barbara Page came to national prominence with "Rock of Ages, Sands of Time," an installation consisting of 544 square panels, each panel representing one million years of the history of the earth. The installation formed the centerpiece of the Museum of the Earth, which opened in 2003 outside Ithaca, NY. With uncanny consistency, each panel reads as both a representation of a fossilized remains and as a painterly abstraction, and our fascination resides in its assuming a dual role as object of scientific interest and object of beauty. This project was followed by a similar installation of 268 porcelain tiles lining a pedestrian bridge at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Many of Barbara's more recent works combine her love of painting with her love of flying. (She is an accomplished pilot.) Upon initial viewing, we recognize each painting as an aerial view of a landscape topology. As we view it, however, it transforms into a pattern of vibrant colors and abstract forms. And this is the intention behind most of Barbara's work. It exists as both the representation of a physical object and an object of pure beauty in its own right. And our fascination lies in our watching the transformation from representation to abstraction.
Although Tony Dungan sometimes works in a purely abstract manner, most of his paintings have a physical referent in the human figure. It may, however, take the viewer a few moments to realize this. Forms are fractured and partial, and we view them through shifting planes and changing perspectives. The images are imperfect and fleeting, and we glimpse them only momentarily, as if they were in motion. They seem to change before our eyes the longer we view them. As the artist explains, "I want you to discover something new every time you view the piece, and to have the painting grow and expand as you view it time and time again." This ever-changing quality of Dungan's images results, in part, from the painted facture he creates using masking, troweling, and pouring, as well as brushing. The artist states that his intention is "for the viewer not to know how the image was put onto the canvas." Our own uncertainty regarding the "what" and the "how" of the image endows the work with an overriding sense of enigma.