GALLERIES: Subtle provocation
Gleaning the galleries

BY CHRISTOPHER MILLIS

The mayor won't be decrying the fall of civilization by way of setting up a decency committee; citizens will not be taking to the street; curators will not have learned that the work of artists outstrips their own. Still, what the fall brings to Boston's art galleries promises to be subtly provocative. In fact, intimacy and refinement appear to be this season's overriding qualities, irrespective of the venue.

You probably wouldn't think of unfinished plywood as the stuff of either intimacy or refinement, but in the hands of Taylor Davis it's both. An elective Bostonian who teaches at Mass College of Art and won this year's ICA Artist Prize, Davis creates complicated networks of interlocking pieces of unfinished wood; they occupy large areas of floor space, suggesting both collapse and resurrection - as if a wall had just fallen or were about to go up. The Gallery @ Green Street (at the Green Street T stop on the Orange Line), one of our unlikely treasures, hosts its own first solo show of Davis's work from October 12 to November 24. Be there.

If buzz is your standard for deciding which exhibits to seek out, then you'd need an apiary to compete with the buzz surrounding Wlodzimierz Ksiazek's upcoming exhibit at the Alpha Gallery (14 Newbury Street; September 15­October 10). Polish by birth, living and working in Pawtucket by choice, Ksiazek applies thick swaths of oil to canvas to create muted yet kinetic abstractions. He may win this fall's award for the most shows in one season. The Alpha Gallery presentation occurs in conjunction with a major exhibit at the Barrington Center for the Arts at Gordon College in Wenham; from there he goes on to appear at RISD and Brown before the year's out.

Just down the street, there are two major shows at Gallery NAGA (67 Newbury Street) through September 29. " Tattoo Paintings " (Sam Earle) and " Camera Work " (Morgan Cohen, Mary Kocol, David Prifti, and Robert Siegelman) promise unassuming dynamism. Each artist is terrific, but the two who currently most command my attention are Cohen and Prifti. Cohen takes gently colored photographs of the corners of rooms, and they're sexy in the way a whisper can be sexy - each feels like a private beckoning. Prifti seems robust by comparison as he transfers oversized black-and-white family snapshots to found objects, such as scrap metal and fences, thus heightening each image's effect. Each of the four photographers will have a solo show at NAGA in 2002; " Camera Work " is a fitting overture.

From September 14 to October 27, the Robert Klein Gallery (38 Newbury Street), will be displaying photography of a different kind in the shape of Yousuf Karsh's portraits. It's altogether too easy to regard this artist as a proto­Herb Ritts, a celebrity photographer whose greatest attribute lies in ingratiating himself with pretty people. In fact, Karsh zeroes in on the accomplished, not the photogenic, and his studies are rich in personality, not skin. Still on Newbury Street, Kate Sheperd's minimal and abstract painting, at the Barbara Krakow Gallery (10 Newbury Street; September 15­October 17) combines austere geometric shapes with flat expanses of color - imagine Etch-a-Sketch with designer hues - to suggest either architecture or glyph, the beginning of a map or the end of a communication.

Other shows worth noting as the calendar year winds down include the upcoming exhibit of furniture and sculptural wood of Rolf Hoeg and Joel Urruty at the Society of Arts and Crafts (175 Newbury Street; September 8­October 30) and the group show " Fluid Canvas II " at the Chappell Gallery (14 Newbury Street; September 11­October 9). Boston's home for glass artists, the Chappell includes mesmerizing work by three established artists, Dana Zamecnikova, Toshio Iezumi, and Makoto Ito as well as work by two younger artists, Nicole Chesney and Jana Voldrichova. Through October 9, the Pucker Gallery (171 Newbury Street) will have Maria Muller's " Reality Transformed " (hand-colored photographs) and another of its sublime pottery shows, " Works of Art by the People of Southern Africa IV. " Finally, in the Thayer Street gallery neighborhood in the South End, photographer David Hilliard's exhibit of new work at the Bernard Toale Gallery (450 Harrison Avenue; October 3­27) should be exceptional. In addition to a strong sense of color and composition, Hilliard brings to his art two rare qualities, generosity and humor. Not to be missed.

Issue Date: Fall 2001

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