Barry Whistler Gallery has paired two very different artists to good effect. Ann Stautberg’s moonlit photographs ping nicely against the hard edges of Richard Serra’s etchings.
Her handling of chiaroscuro is intriguing because it intimates mystery and portent. Barely discernible trees and buildings are dreamily outlined by the moon or mysterious orbs — and if you’ve ever experienced the magic of car taillights on curved roads, this is an exhibition for you. Like the depicted telephone wires in her photographs — hand-painted with oils — distance is spanned. 9-23-11, PM makes you traverse space and do a bit of work to fill in gaps. You’re likely to find yourself wondering about destinations or narratives invoked by her images. In her capable hands, even asphalt is transfigured — no small feat.
Meanwhile, Richard Serra has seven etchings on view that show us a different kind of (internal) landscape. They’re forceful and large — and decidedly unnerving since they’re a mashup of NASCAR tracks and Zen head-boilers. Path and Edges #13, created in 2007, has a decidedly Japanese ambience. The edges are mottled and vaguely leafy, but the interior arc invokes all the fragility of a steel-belted radial tire. It’s a collision of delicacy and a power play for your consciousness.
Serra’s etchings magically convey the same heft as his huge sculptures done in metal. They’re smudged and beautiful and moving, in that they create genuine velocity. However, unlike Stautberg’s art, Serra’s roars with musculature and feels like a series of strolls in a brightly lighted space — even if it’s the interior of your own noggin.