<< Back to Essays and Reviews

Old Friends, New Faces at Triangle Gallery

The Examiner
By Frank Cebulski
February 2, 2010

Triangle Gallery in San Francisco is featuring a nice selection of works by artists who have been previously represented by the gallery and introducing works by four artists new to the gallery. The selected works on view by “old friends” of the gallery include aerial photographs by well-known Bay Area artist and photographer Robert Hartman; a colorful abstract painting and three engaging charcoal seascape drawings by Patrick O’Kiersey; and eleven intriguing sculptures by Patricia Lyons Stroud. Works by the new artists include five small paintings with biologic and plant reference by Bridget May, five vibrant polychrome op-art paintings by Bernadette Jiyong Frank, and four colorful, geometric monotype prints by Sachiko Green.

Hartman’s red, white and organic-green lifochrome aerial photograph of an airport terminal, its docking ports and runways, appropriately titled The Ordered World, presents a well-organized, geometrically structured view of our contemporary landscape ordered by our air transportation system. The bright-red “hot” beauty of this static view of one of our most important means of global transportation acts as a sardonic counterfoil to the internal turmoil and daily frenetic hassle that we all experience personally as air travelers. Patrick O’Kiersey’s dramatic abstract expressionist oil painting, Red Forest, also invokes infrared aerial views of Earth’s forested regions, with organic living matter in hot red. The sweeping, thick brush strokes of this painting add energy and a kind of excited urgency to the colors and composition, creating a hurried effect and the feeling of a hard, last look.

Patricia Stroud employs a variety of different media to create her fascinating and intimate sculptures—natural and painted wood, iron, and paper. Strange Game, a polychrome wood wall sculpture and The Way In, also of painted wood, are two of the most impressive pieces on view. The Way In is a large serpentine horn- or tusk-like form that is mounted on the wall in such a manner that it appears to enter into and exit from the wall where it hangs. It is painted white with a series of evenly spaced markings circling the shape, executed in a way that makes the object a primitive tool or horn, like a large Alpine horn. It also resembles a snake disappearing into and emerging from the wall, part of a formidable creature without visible head or tail. This piece has true mythic power, like a sacred tribal object.

Bridget May’s colorful small paintings, cross sections of plants enlarged and magnified are very much like botanical and biological drawings for textbooks and technical illustration. This is the first exhibition of her paintings at this gallery. These are carefully and precisely executed paintings, with intricate detailed color renderings of the cutaway sections of different plants by category. On view is Monocot Root No. 4, Dicot Stem No. 2, and three paintings of cross sections of Coleus plants. These titles of course designate the classes of the plants, Monocotyledoneae, called Monocots, Dicotledoneae, called Dicots, and Coleus. Monocots have flower parts in threes or multiples of threes, and include such plants as the Amaryllis, Iris, Agave and Yucca. Dicot flower parts are in fours or fives and include such plants as roses, buttercups, clover, oaks, maples, and willow. The stems of Coleus plants have four vascular bundles that produce a square-based cross section, with the vascular bundles in the corners. These variations in the shapes of the cross sections naturally determine the outer boundaries of the Images in May’s paintings, although she does not name the specific plants whose cross sections these represent. These images could in fact be of imaginary or fictitious plants that therefore stand for all plants in their class, adding an attractive anonymity in the plant world, whose identities are determined by their “inner” characteristics.

Four monotype prints by Sachiko Green from her series Between the Lines are composed in linear wavy horizontal or vertical patterns that repeat a complex of color and multiplicity. She is obviously interested in the vibrant rhythms of color and the play of repeated patterns in a color field and the effect of these repeated patterns upon our eye.

Bernadette Jiyong Frank’s paintings are also serious explorations of optical art effects, expertly created by bands of repeated overlapping color variations and geometric shapes, often based on a basic color theme, as in the four paintings from her Polychrome Series, each painted with a different dominating color—purple, turquoise, yellow, and green violet. Polychrome Series Yellow, for example, combines repeated horizontal bands of yellow, red, orange, purple and gray that weave in and out like undulating ribbons while at the same time presenting a yellow circle like a halo that literally glows in the center of the painting. The visual effect produces a vibrant interaction of stripes of shallow depth moving inward and outward from the picture plane, while the circular toroid of the halo rounds with volume and depth of field. The fifth painting on view, R-5 from her Pulse Series, magically employs similar painterly optical techniques to produce a visual pulsating movement between two ovoid shapes, like a pair of vibrant Möebius strips. These paintings are exciting experiments in seeing by reproducing the dynamic optical changes that occur in the eye as a result of repetitions of color combinations in repeated shapes. These are impressive, skillfully executed paintings with an enduring depth and range of interest.