BLUEPRINTS FOR CHANGE
Allison Stewart paints the intersection of land developmentand
By Doug MacCash
Artists are like movie stars; they all seem to have some political cause
or the other. Well-known Crescent City artist Allison Stewart's cause
Symbolically speaking, Stewart, whose exhibit
"Crosscurrents" is on display at Arthur Roger Gallery, undoes
some of the damage mankind has inflicted on the environment. She begins
each of her paintings by wall-papering a large canvas with a layer of
architectural plans or oil field maps -- things that suggest man's encroachment
on the land. Then she paints over the plans and maps with loose, expressive
renderings of weeds, wildflowers and flowing water -- the sorts of things
that she feels are rapidly disappearing from the world around her.
"There has to be an awareness of what we
do when we alter the landscape," Stewart said. "In the past,
no one really cared if the swamp was there or not; now I think the damage
We usually pay attention to a celebrity's comments
on a cause because we also admire their talent. Likewise, the reason we're
talking about Stewart's ecological concerns here is because she can paint.
Boy can she paint. The big, bold canvases in
the gallery front room are stunners. Stewart perfectly balances syrupy
swirls of impasto with patches of runny, water-thin wash. She balances
can't-miss-it calligraphic designs with lots of vague drips, runs and
feathery brush strokes. She balances luminous cobalt blue, ruby red and
grape jelly purple with subtle smoke gray, rust-stain orange and bayou-water
olive. And her compositions have never been better. Look at the daring,
almost-off-balanced design of "Drift" and the tangled, almost-out-of-control
pattern of "Pass #4."
Stewart is gambling more than ever -- and winning every bet. Sincerity
and social involvement are admirable. Really, really good painting is
why you should catch "Crosscurrents" before it closes Saturday
By Allison Stewart
What: Abstract paintings with an ecological theme.
Where: Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999.
When: Mon-Sat, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Nov. 27.
Prices: $2,400 to $12,000.
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