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Down and Dirty at Duck Creek

Mon, 04/26/2021 - 16:39
Jeanne Silverthorne's "Poppy Juice" is made from platinum silicone rubber and phosphorescent pigment.

“Down and Dirty,” a two-person exhibition of sculpture by Bonnie Rychlak and Jeanne Silverthorne, and “High Noon,” a solo show of paintings by Elizabeth Hazan, will open Saturday at the Arts Center at Duck Creek in Springs and continue through June 6.

Both Ms. Rychlak and Ms. Silverthorne transform familiar and sometimes discarded objects by using mutable materials such as beeswax, paraffin, and rubber. “I play with the notion of something that may not seem an object of beauty, but I try to make it beautiful and seductive,” Ms. Rychlak told Terrie Sultan, the former director of the Parrish Art Museum, in an interview.

In a catalog essay for “Down and Dirty,” which was originally organized by the Dodd Galleries at the University of Georgia, Ms. Sultan linked the two artists to those who have recontextualized or resurrected commonplace objects, citing among others Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, one of which, “Fountain,” was actually a urinal.

Floor drains and grates figure prominently in Ms. Rychlak’s work. The use of cast wax to represent objects usually made of steel undermines the solidity and stability usually associated with them. The artist has linked the drains to darkness, mystery, and fear. “Whatever goes down the drain is dark, it’s repressed. It’s about culverts that penetrate the surface, and you may never know what is at the other end or below.”

Ms. Silverthorne models the detritus of her own studio in clay, making molds, then casting each object in rubber. The exhibition includes castings of a moth and lightbulb, fire extinguishers, a bubble-wrapped chair, even a section of her studio floor, partially rolled up and serving as a platform for weeds and caterpillars. The resemblance of those objects to their real-life subjects “is rendered absurd by their rubber form,” according to the arts center.

“Humor is puncturing and leveling,” Ms. Silverthorne told Ms. Sultan. “Everything that is inflated, that is standing up, humor is going to knock it down and make it down and dirty.”

Organized by Eric Brown, a former gallery owner who now represents and advises artists and collectors, “Elizabeth Hazan: High Noon” includes three new large paintings and a group of smaller works being shown for the first time.

The recent paintings combine memories of the open fields of the East End, where the artist spent summers as a child, with an abstract pictorial language. “I want the paintings both to capture memory I have of that time and place and to explore imaginative possibilities that spring from it,” she has written.

In a review of a 2019 exhibition of Ms. Hazan’s work, Rebecca Allan wrote, “Her semi-abstract paintings are filled with loosely bounded shapes that sit still against or jump in front of one another . . . Hazy shapes suggest areas of a map that we cannot see, or street grids that incrementally download as we await directions from our smartphones.”

Ms. Rychlak and Ms. Silverthorne will take part in an outdoor conversation with Ms. Sultan at Duck Creek on May 22 at 3 p.m.; May 23 in case of rain. Gallery hours are 2 to 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

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