Warp and weft: The grid at Mixed Greens

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Mixed Greens’ enterprising group exhibition “Common Thread,” on view through August 28, positions a 1973 Bauhaus grid study by Anni Albers and Ellen Lesperance’s 2009 grid-based gouache deconstruction of her pre-Josef Albers sweater pattern as aesthetic and cultural springboards for work by nine contemporary female artists. Restively contemplating traditional gender associations, these artists jettison the “iconic brushstroke” in favor of extrusion and fiber art. While duly recognizing their antecedents, they appear determined to move forward.

[Image at top: Ellen Lesperance; 1921, Anni Fleischmann Demonstrates Simultaneous Contrast Herself with the Help of a Knitted I-Cord Necklace; It Would Be a Year Before Even Meeting Josef Albers; 2009; gouache and graphite on tea stained paper; 22 × 29 inches.]

Anni Albers, Study for DO II, 1973, gouache on blueprint paper, 20 × 17 inches.
Leslie Wayne, Paint Rag 57 (Adinkra), 2015, oil on panel, 22 x 14 x 3.5 inches.

Appropriately, curator Heather Darcy Bhandari accords pride of place to three of Leslie Wayne’s celebrated “rag” paintings, in which she intricately folds thoroughly worked and conventionally rectangular paint skins to create three-dimensional works that resemble dishcloths, at once referencing and escaping the confinement of gender identity. For each painting Wayne draws on extant art – Paul Klee’s Characters in Yellow for one, Adinkra symbols used in Ghanaian textiles for the second, and a Joseph Hoffman drawing for the third – and thus suggests inclusive continuity as well as departure.

 Tamara Gonzales, Twice Born (Dionysian), 2014, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 65 × 57 inches.

Wendy Edwards, BOD, 2005, oil on canvas on board, 26 × 24 inches.

 Angela Teng, Golden Boy, 2015, crocheted acrylic paint on alu panel, 20 x 16 inches.

While Wayne offers the most iconoclastic presentation of the grid – in effect, she crumples it – other artists keep it largely intact and adopt more tempered and eclectic approaches. These include Wendy Edwards, Tamara Gonzales, Michelle Grabner, Sarah Esme Harrison, and Summer Wheat, who manifest collective mastery of an appreciable range of painting materials and techniques. Still others embrace the grid and save their radicalism for the medium. Danielle Mysliwiec and Angela Teng, for instance, make acrylic paint look like thread.

Danielle Mysliwiec, Nocturne IV, 2015, oil on linen covered wood panel, 54 × 9 inches.

Sarah Esme Harrison, Rug 15, 2015, oil on panel, 24 × 18 inches.

 Michelle Grabner, Untitled (todo), 2007, Flashe and gesso on canvas, 80 × 80 inches.

Sasha Pierce, Multicolor Blue, 2009, oil on canvas, 18 × 14 inches.

In perhaps the show’s most inventive twist on medium, Sasha Pierce essentially disguises thinly extruded paint as thread, weaving it into a geometric tapestry so as to simulate textile with an eerie verisimilitude as uncanny as that achieved by Wayne. If, as the gallery’s press release says, works like theirs appear “effortlessly hybrid,” it’s certainly not for lack of trying. They succeed in honoring Albers while transcending the strictures that implicitly bound her.
Common Thread,” with Anni Albers, Wendy Edwards, Tamara Gonzales, Michelle Grabner, Sarah Harrison, Ellen Lesperance, Danielle Mysliwiec, Sasha Pierce, Angela Teng, Leslie Wayne, and Summer Wheat. Mixed Greens, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through August 28, 2015. Note: Not all work depicted is in the exhibition.

UPDATE: We are sorry to learn via their Tumblr that 2015 will be the last year for Mixed Greens:  “After sixteen years of programming, our final show will close on December 22, 2015…”

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These threads are queer

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Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

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