The Eerie Darkness and Angelic Lightness of Spring at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery

It is “just-spring,” as E. E. Cummings once described the early stages of this season, “when the world is puddle-wonderful.” And with spring comes “Spring Fusion” at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery. The exhibition features works by a range of artists, whose themes resonate with this season of transition, renewal, and hope, and whose proceeds, fittingly, benefit The Retreat, a domestic abuse shelter on the East End of Long Island. Among the artists included in a sampling at once moody and introspective, buoyant and ethereal, are the winners of the shelter’s 5th Annual Art Competition, painter Mary Chiaramonte, photographer Kerry Sharkey-Miller, and mixed media artist Sylvia Hommert.

In Chiaramonte’s mid-scale, acrylic-on-panel paintings, nature and culture intersect mysteriously. Her dark palette sets a quiet, otherworldly mood, as if the scenes she depicts unfold at the witching hour. With her back to the viewer, a woman dressed in humble clothing faces three cuckoo clocks mounted on an ornately wallpapered wall in Sunrise, Sunset (2013). Each clock tells a different time, and there are no clues to aid the viewer, or the woman, in knowing which one is correct, hinting, perhaps, at the futility underlying our continual efforts to measure and quantify nature. In The Fables (2014), a young girl stands in front of a wall papered with scenes of animals, both hunters and hunted. One of the hunted, a fox, is wrapped around her shoulders, like a living stole. 

If Chiaramonte’s paintings are earthy and dark, Sharkey-Miller’s color photographs, centered upon hale young beauties, are all lightness and delicacy. In them, the women appear perfectly integrated into their natural surroundings, with butterflies entangled in their flowing hair, or dancing around their bodies as if they were a part of the landscape in which they lay. Adding abstraction to this mix of mostly figurative compositions, Hommert’s mixed-media works-on-panel burst with shimmering springtime colors, including gold, red, and gray. Packing a graphic punch, they feature radiant lines, like the rays of the sun, stretching across richly hued backgrounds, encompassing the brightness of spring, and serving as harbingers of summer.

Spring Fusion” is on view at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery April 26-May 7, 2014.

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