Friends & Mentors The Williamsburg Art and Historical Centerby Tomassio Longhi
October 9- December 2, 2001
In any curatorial effort with regard to a specific theme, it is essential that the works of art chosen appear cohesive as a group. For some time now, the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center has repeatedly mounted indiscriminately curated group exhibits. This show appears to be a more promising effort. It was, of course, delightful to see the sculpture of Isamu Noguchi and the paintings of Esteban Vicente, but in the context of Friends and Mentors, even the greatness of their works neither illuminates nor so much as relates to the works of the other artists in the show. Clearly the show would have been stronger and less curiously anachronistic if it had included artists whose work shares greater affinities with that of both Noguchi and Vicente.
As much as I acknowledge the potential of the theme, no dialogue, either formal or historical, is established among the works. First of all, the work of Toshiko Uchima and Ansei Uchima (I assume they are related) is itself entirely different. Toshiko creates austere and haunting constructed boxes, assemblages and collages in the tradition of Josef Cornell and Arthur B. Dove. Ansei, on the other hand, conceives paintings which waver between conflicting styles: the Klee-like color scheme in irregular and all-over square or rectangular divisions, and the more abstracted landscapes of Slaloming’s forms, which seem unchallenging in their repetitive motifs.
The lithographs of Jerry Rudquist relish a certain sculptural configuration in the light of John Chamberlain and Mark di Suevro. I wonder if these were made for sculpture, if Rudquist has ever made sculpture at all. Jack Lenor Lawson’s silk piece with minimal patterns and the large painted ceramic sculptures of Toshiko Takaezu only intensify the show’s lack of harmony in terms of visual reading for the viewers.
Again, one leaves the show feeling perplexed and unsatisfied. As an institution that has existed for many years, the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center needs to keep up with the current and intense activity of the Brooklyn galleries. It is time for WAH Center to bring in outside curators and to collaborate with other respectable galleries whose insights and professionalism could only benefit and broaden its vision.