Edgewood Gallery offers an impressive show in a small space. A Conscious Allusion displays a full selection of Nicora Gangi’s recent works; a slew of small sculptures co-created by R. Jason Howard and Doug Williams; and 12 necklaces made by Gail Sustare.
More than nine years ago, Gangi began showing not only her trademark pastels, but also oil paintings. The Edgewood exhibit demonstrates her ability to create varied oils. It has paintings like “7 p.m. Forest,” in which light caresses trees, runs along the ground and illuminates a log.
The show presents Gangi’s panoramic view of a hillside near Orvieto, Italy, encompassing a building far above the valley below, a green-tinged range across the valley, and clouds drifting over the nearby town. Clouds appear again in her depiction of Evensong Lake, rolling across the body of water.
In addition to the landscapes, Gangi has painted “Types of Shadows,” a moody, contemplative work. Most of the canvas is occupied by a void of blank space, but in the bottom right corner there is a bird’s nest with an egg, pins, a key and lock. It’s up to viewers to decipher the painting’s metaphors.
The exhibit also displays 19 of the artist’s pastels, emphasizing her talent for introducing visual energy into still-life scenes. Gangi portrays grapes in vivid colors and focuses on a cut lemon in “Vulnerable Divide,” in which light seems to explode from the lemon. “Wise Bite” depicts objects in great detail, including glasses, a book and a chewed apple.
“Graceful Aureole,” the best of her pastels, pushes the medium one step higher. It has objects such as a bird, eggs, an elaborate cup and a glass vessel; all of which are complementary to one another. The bird’s image reflects onto the glass surface, and an image of an egg flashes on the cup. This is a piece that merits extending viewing.
Elsewhere, the exhibit presents a series of “prayer bowls,” which are glassworks combining R. Jason Howard’s creation of exteriors with Doug Williams’ Fillacello glass drawings inside each piece. The works are delightful to look at, decorated with various patterns and colors. To truly appreciate them, look inside the works and look through them.
The “prayer bowls” are just one aspect of Howard’s creative output. He’s been making glassworks for more than a decade and has taken part in exhibits around the United States. The show references his overall career by displaying four of his pieces from another project.
Gail Sustare, meanwhile, has jewelry on display reflecting Art Deco and Art Nouveau influences. Beyond that, she has a knack for incorporating figurative elements into her pieces. In one instance, a female figure rises from the necklace. In another, there’s a group of tiny figures standing side by side.
It’s clear that the show’s principal mission is to showcase Gangi’s works. She has 29 pieces on display, and the exhibition both acknowledges her longtime work with pastels and her willingness to venture into another medium. Her oil paintings on view at Edgewood make a strong case for risk taking.
Moreover, placing the paintings in the same room as the pastels makes a basic but important point. The same artist created the two types of work; there’s a base for all she does.
Finally, A Conscious Allusion doesn’t try to artificially link her pieces to those created by the other artists. It simply presents the works and lets viewers sort it out. That’s one more reason why this is a successful show.