"A Girl Named Peaches" by Jill Gallenstein

Linear and organic structures complement each other in this two-person show of sculpture and works on paper (on view through September 11, 2010, at Johansson Projects in Oakland). There is a shared lightness to the works, giving the exhibition an overall ethereal, meditative feel. The exhibition comprises two sculptures by Jana Flynn — one wall mounted and the other a site-specific, floor-to-ceiling work that spans the back of the gallery — and several ink-on-paper works of various sizes by Jill Gallenstein.

Flynn’s creations come out of the craft of string art (think geometry class projects, gone huge, complex, and elaborate). She arranges arrays of strings, each their own color: Each same-length piece of string is fixed at either end; termination points are at equal intervals. Each array of strings, then, effectively creates a plane.  Flynn interweaves these planes, shaping and bending space. The works are at once delicate in their transparency while also being formidable — the taut lines make firm boundaries. (Of note is that these very precise, measured works are created improvisationally; they are not preplanned.)

Juxtaposed next to these are highly detailed and gorgeously colored works by Gallenstein. Rounded objects, starbursts, and other creations from the artist’s imagination group together, string out, and sometimes regroup across or down the paper; the backgrounds often feature subtle washes of color which enhance the atmosphere. The intricacy of these works cannot be overemphasized; they are stunningly rendered, each shape decorated with dots and lines to the tiniest degree. Up close, they are a wonder of obsessive attention; far away, they present beautiful, fluid compositions in bright, dramatic palettes.

Considering these two artists together, Flynn’s sculptures bring out the taut structure in Gallenstein’s work; Gallenstein’s seemingly amorphous works highlight the lyric aspects of the three-dimensional pieces. If these works hold their own individually, seeing them side-by-side mutually enhances their impact — a reminder of how the experience of an artwork is profoundly affected by its surroundings.

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