In David Perry Smith's "Fresh Horses," one of this year's most flawlessly integrated three-person shows, Holly Fisher wields steel like sticks of charcoal and forges strips of metal so fluid, digital images of her work look like contour drawings. We feel muscles rippling throughout the torso of a horse labeled Louie. We see into the cartilage and bones of a skeletal structure that is delicate but strong enough to lock the animal's slender legs in place as he throws back his head whipping up his mane and tail.
An award-winning equestrian as well as accomplished encaustic painter, Mary Cour Burrows, floats near the top of her Chagall-like self-portrait The Horse Whisperer. Mouth to nostril, Burrows breathes life into a creature whose prominent snout, gentle eyes, and thick fur look like a not quite solidified version of the red mare at the bottom of the painting. In Dancing with the Red Horses, Burrows and four sorrels circle faster and faster until their fully extended bodies move in an unbroken circle — hand to tail to hoof to mane — that brings to mind the primal joy of the nude figures in Matisse's masterwork La Danse.
In Mary Reed's haunting collage painting Pause Prance, a woman both rides on and merges with a translucent steed created out of layers of handmade paper and white-gold glazes. The sleek woman is as golden-red as the atmosphere through which she rides. Like many of Reed's heroines, she looks away from the viewer. Lost in her own dreams, this Guinevere turned gallant knight, this Woman of La Mancha sets out on a vision quest that mixes the legendary and surreal with the deeply personal.
Through June 30th
Included in Pinkney Herbert's David Lusk exhibition "Broken Time — Progressions" is Fanfare 1, a pulsing pastel on paper. The work's lime-green and deep-blue asymmetrical rectangles — framed in red and surrounded by jagged strokes of black — powerfully parallel the show's title, which is the jazz term for irregular, improvised syncopation. The overlapping ovals at the heart of drawing looks like the lips of the trumpeter opening and closing around the mouthpiece of his/her instrument reaching for the high notes and crescendos.
In a decided departure from Herbert's driving sometimes explosive style, Tower 3 is a tall but fragile structure in which lines climb, change direction, intersect, and go back up and out as Herbert reaches for that open-ended framework that facilitates fresh vision and the creation of highly original pieces of music as well as works of art.
Through June 30th
Everything glows with life in WKNO 1091 Gallery's "Artist Spotlight Exhibit: NJ Woods and Marie Babb." In Woods' high-key acrylic painting When You're on a Hill, You're Closer 2 da Moon, the lightning bugs are huge and children climb a hill as steep as a mountain. An enormous moon shimmers in the sky. Small shacks take on a life of their own as wooden slats turn gold in the moonlight and steep red roofs blow in the wind like the sheets on the clothesline at the bottom of the hill. The painting's ebullient child-like joy doesn't register as kitsch, as Grandma Moses-quaint, or even as exaggerated. Instead, Woods reminds us, this is the way children experience the world, the way they remember the magic.
Through June 30th
Some of the most sensual and iconic works of Niles Wallace's career are currently on view in his Gallery Fifty Six exhibition "Sticks and Stones." Dozens of deliberately misshapen stark-white ceramic bowls fill the top shelves of Wallace's 8-foot-tall Collection Cabinet. Fired with a single glaze, Wallace's colors are sometimes as crisp as the white and black halves of a yin-yang symbol, sometimes as nuanced as tea stains against hairline cracks in a porcelain cup, sometimes as sleek as the petal of a rose.
On the bottom shelves, Wallace places one plastic container inside another and warps both bowls with a heat gun. These surprisingly beautiful bowls writhe, reach out, and fold back upon themselves — sometimes tortuously, sometimes with delicate grace. These asymmetrical, shape-shifting works of art speak to every aspect of the creative process — ideas gestating, art and life evolving, and imagination as malleable as molten plastic.
Through June 25th