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ART REVIEW : 3 ARTISTS’ WORK SHOWN AT QUINT

The Mark Quint Gallery (664 9th Ave.) is presenting three shows by three artists representing three very different aesthetics.

The most engaging works are the dozen ceramic “casas” making up what Jens Morrison calls a “Zone of Refuge.” Through his works, the artist wishes to convey his respect for Mexican peasant architectural forms, which he perceives as springing from natural, rural needs and feelings--as opposed to artificial, urban demands and intellect.

The small houses, each named for a village, resemble reliquaries filled and surrounded by small objects--hearts, shells, cacti, crescents, trees and roses--all sitting on (apparently) wooden trays. Everything, however, with the exception of nails and thorns, is made of ceramic in a palette of pastel glazes and lusters.

These visual tours de force are seductive and even impressive. But they are strangely unmoving as works of art. Despite the artist’s intent, they are charming rather than mysterious.

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Reesey Shaw’s dozen “Recent Works,” in contrast, offer viewers a full measure of mystery. They are contemporary works of art, yet they seem to allude to prehistoric religious forms and earth forces.

The 12 pieces are composed of rectangular wood supports covered with encaustic, or pigmented wax, in grays, beiges, blues, moss green and black. Four medium-sized works are attached either vertically or horizontally to the wall-like boxes, but also like traditional paintings. The other works, four of which are human in scale, either stand or squat on the floor like sculptures. Indeed, a question raised by Shaw’s works is whether they are painted sculptures or sculptural paintings. But it’s a question that doesn’t require an answer; they are what they are because the artist made them that way.

Encaustic, a difficult and painstaking medium to use, allows a richly textured surface characterized by a deep inner glow. It ambiguously suggests both spiritual and sensual qualities.

To fully appreciate Shaw’s works, it is necessary to move around them, letting the eye travel slowly over their irregular, soft surfaces. Part of their magic is that they will respond to you as you respond to them in a mutually nourishing relationship.

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Christine Lopresti’s paintings, as a group entitled “Furtive Glance,” complete the exhibit. They have a punk quality that is either vulgarly sophisticated or sophisticatedly vulgar. Their stylized, representational forms--uprooted trees, flames, pyramids, horses, lizards, cats and wolves--in high-key colors on black fields radiate energy. They nearly jump off the walls. As in Janet Cooling’s paintings, the images evince human concerns.

Lopresti complements her garish paintings with hideous frames, some painted in trashy metallics, some with glitter.

The work is bracing, very bracing.

The three-part exhibit continues through April 19.

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