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When Leslie Nolan was asked to curate an exhibition drawn from the Artspace Flatfiles, a diverse collection of works on paper by some of the area’s most talented artists, she found an amazing body of work that uses line less as an addition to the piece than as a central, independent element. This small exhibition, consisting of twenty three specially selected works on paper, displays the range of possibilities in using line as a predominant feature in artistic composition.

This dominance of line is excellently demonstrated in Willard Lustenader’s Line on Yellow #1, a bold yellow ground punctuated by sharp ink lines that evoke a cluster of gabled houses. These gabled shapes bring to mind a sense of refuge found in many of Mr. Lustenader’s works using the sharp forms of cut paper and lines of bent wire to create similar forms.

Nina Jordan, View from Millbrook Mountain Road

Linear elements are reinterpreted in Alyse Rosner’s With Wood Grain XLVIII, where a background composed of rubbed wood grain in graphite plays off of a fluid swirl of red acrylic and black ink. This underlying wood grain is echoed across the room in Nina Jordan’s View from Millbrook Mountain Road, a woodcut where the natural grain of the woodblock outlines the topography of bucolic Catskill hills. The range of possibilities in using line as a compositional element is demonstrated in the contrast between the perfectly horizontal grain traversing the sky and the rolling, knotty grain of the gray-green hills.

Sarah Gustafson, Arch IX

These broad, natural lines are abandoned for precise, miniature marks in three painted works by Elisabeth Livingston, titled I Might be Wrong, The Drop, and Let it Go, where small, meditative landscapes are rendered in tempera and gesso, showing quiet, isolated American landscapes produced from tiny brushstrokes. These serene views of rural life seem to foreshadow a looming danger seen in the dark forms of the pieces and small-scale, unassuming views of rural separation.

Two artists working in mixed media translate line from the drawn and painted stroke into a compositional element shown in creases and cut paper edges. Elizabeth Gourlay uses sharply cut edges to play off of drawn lines in her mixed media pieces, Galium 1 and Galium 10. Black and pastel horizontal lines are interrupted by vertical cuts in the paper layer, creating an interesting composition evoking an interrupted street grid or road map. Alongside these pieces hang Sarah Gustafson’s polychromatic collages entitled Arch IX and Kana II where both creases and cuts in the paper layer delineate a field of geometric shapes and a full spectrum of color. Sarah Gustafson’s linear elements of folds and cuts define the forms found in the two works, presenting an excellent example of the diversity of line as a compositional element.

Come down to see Out of Line: Selections from the Artspace Flatfiles, composed of work by Alyse Rosner, Lucy Sallick, Nomi Silverman, Willard Lustenader, Janet Lage, Nina Jordan, Elizabeth Livingston, Caitlin Foster, Gerald Saladyga, Elizabeth Gourlay, and Sarah Gustafson, through June 30th in Artspace’s Gallery 5.

– Jeremy Wolin, Artspace High School Intern

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