By Brian Goslow
Framingham, MA – The first thing you notice about “Multiplicity” is that from the moment you enter the gallery, each of the works is calling for your attention — and that each of them could do so for an extended period of time.
Perhaps the best place to start is with “Armature,” a living-breathing object composed of three steel hoops, chicken wire, tracing paper and 10 gallons of wheat paste where you can crawl inside at its ends or lie on your back and gaze up underneath that hangs serpent-like in the middle of the gallery from three of its historic graffiti-marked pillars, the work of curators Carrie Childs-Antonini and Denise Driscoll with Sara Fine-Wilson. “It was being birthed as the show was going up,” Driscoll said. “We finished the day before the opening.”
The idea for the 19-artist show started at a gallery members’ meeting last spring; the intention was for it serve as exercise that would make them more of an inclusive group — asking “If you could work with other people, what would you do?” beginning with “Synchronic,” a collaborative drawing where the goal was to create a finished work over a short period of time.
“In any joint effort — as in any workplace or business — there are stages of negotiating roles,” said Antonini, who was asked to take a leadership role for the project. “We knew each others names, but we hadn’t worked together,” said Driscoll, who noted the goal wasn’t necessarily to be original, but about doing it together.
Amongst the bigger creations:
“Telephone,” a 10-artist string of images, displayed here on a computer screen, was an exercise where one participant would receive a cell phone image and then have to respond by taking one of their own in response to what they received, then send that to the next person on the list. “Instead of being an artist, it was about whoever you want to be at the moment. You could be artistic if you wanted,” Antonini said. “The shape, the colors, the image taken was a response to the photo you were sent. You could respond any way you wanted,” Antonini said.
Driscoll said some response took three days, others five minutes. The process lasted eight weeks, resulting in 79 images being in place when the show started. “At the opening, there was a crowd standing around watching the images change,” Driscoll said. “The artists wanted to see what they inspired (in each other), “Antonini said. “They didn’t know who had responded to what they sent.”
“Telephone” is still a work-in-progress, with new images being added as they’re submitted. “Everyone decided they wanted to keep it going,” Driscoll said. “It’s a great conversation piece.”
For “24 Hours,” eight artists were asked to take a spontaneous cellphone pictures every hour on the hour on an appointed day. The end results include meals, family members, a look inside studios and outside backyard and gallery windows, works-in-progress, tools of the artist trade and the darkness of sleep.
All the artists contributed to “Serial,” which, along with “Telephone,” attracted the most attention at the show’s opening. Twenty-five 25 8” x 8” panels were passed back and forth with each artist adding their own contribution to what was made before them. It’s great fun identifying and guess who created what. Can you find the contributions of Roy Perkinson, Kellie Weeks, Bob Grignaffani and Pat Paxson?
“Cut Fold Tear,” which frames the Fountain Street gift shop (that currently hosts its original affordable art “Small Work Showcase,” an enjoyable exhibition in its own right that will remain on view through January 11), was a collaborative effort in which Antonini, Driscoll, Cheryl Clinton and Kay Hartung cut, folder and tore paper into a huge installation “of shadow and light” that you really should stop to take the time to explore and consider its creation — imagine one of your own paper and scissor projects and multiply the size in hundreds, if not thousands — and how magnificently shaped the end result is.
Most of the artists included in “Multiplicity” have established names and growing reputations throughout the region and follow like-clockwork creative processes; that changed when they were given the challenge of creating great work with others they may not have even talked shop to in the past.
“As artists, we make thousands of decisions, but don’t recognize it, the intuitive process,” Driscoll said. “But when you work with other people, you have to talk about it. The words got traded back into works.”
One thing I love about attending group shows at Fountain Street is many of the artists have been featured in artscope over its almost-nine year existence and it’s a thrill to see their latest work and progress and this instance was certainly no different thanks to, in part, Cheryl Clinton’s “Mystery Light 1” acrylic painting, which had sold earlier that morning, Jeanne Williamson’s trademark mixed media “Snow on Snow Fences #1 and #2” and Lisa Barthelson’s “In the Red” assemblage piece.
I found it exciting just to be in the presence Nan Hass Feldman’s “Dream Studio by the Sea II” oil painting; I just find it exciting to be in the presence of her work while Brenda Cironi’s “Barn Series: Yellow Edge” mixed media painting just added to my growing admiration for her work as did Marie Craig’s “Remainder: New South Wales” archival print on aluminum, an echoing collection of horizontal and vertical shapes composing a backyard enhanced by the reflection of the yard behind it.
Scout Austin, whose “Bee Buzz” show at Fountain Street was featured in the pages of artscope in September/October 2014, contributes “The Garden: Honeybee Retablo 1” and “Prayer for the Bees” Honeybee Retablo 2” in her ongoing campaign for their preservation through his encaustic artwork.
Amongst my new artist discoveries at “Multiplicity”:
With a touch of pop and a pinch of the surreal, Carrie Childs Antonini’s gouche on panel “Green Bodies Blue Cloud” really called out to me; similarly, Joel Moskowitz’s acrylic on paper “Kayin/Zaay” was minimalistic enough to give your imagination room to breath while standing out in the crowd.
Tracy Spadafora; whose “Collection (Part 1”) encaustic and mixed media construction on 30 3” wooden discs hosts a series of visual pleasures that leave room for much contemplation;
Margie Sisitsky’s acrylic on panel “Thailand Series #2” mostly black and white over tones over tan and grey abstract painting is accented by a sharp swoop of red is the kind of work that could hold your attention endlessly.
Sara Fine-Wilson’s “Milk Bone Spewing,” a compilation of found objects enhanced by clay, plaster and silicon takes a little extra time to appreciate, but by a third time around the room, after louder works have received their do, appreciate it you will.
Mary Spencer’s charcoal on rag paper “Math of a Real World” stands out in a show utilizing so many “new world” creative stylings to remind us not to forget the traditional style of drawing while Stacey Piwinkski’s two works made of hand-woven t-shirts and yarn, “”Bill’s Daughter” and “Bill’s Son” represent the growing development of the fiber arts.
Through the time she’s spent helping to put the show together, Driscoll said she learned how complicated the lives for Fountain Street’s artists are. “It’s a struggle for them to get to their studio work,” Driscoll said. “I feel less lonely in this business.”
One hates to have shows like this have an expiration date; thankfully, “Multiplicity” has been preserved for eternity in catalogue form. “It’s the only way to make something like this last,” Driscoll said. “This gallery is such a unique place with stellar artists. We talked about something that would leave a lasting physical presence. The catalog is a slice of this month.”
You can preview (and purchase) the catalogue at http://issuu.com/.
(“Multiplicity” continues through December 14 at Fountain Street Fine Art, 59 Fountain Street, Framingham, Mass. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call (508) 879-4200.)