In her show, Perennial Shift, at the William Busta Gallery, Julie Friedman exhibits a print maker’s love of process. Initially, the pieces (a useful generic term) reminded me of the silhouettes you can have made at Coney Island or Cedar Point. Like those silhouettes, these are cut-outs; most are black on white. On closer inspection, they are the product of a labor-intensive, and ingenious process–just the kind of thing print makers love.
Most of the works share the theme of imminent disaster. “Broken Wire” with its looming tornadoes ripping through suburban homes and high wires is typical. Everything is swept into a maelstrom of loops, swirls, and flowing lines. The cut-out shapes cast shadows on the background and thus become part of the design. The shadows taken together with the flow of lines create fanciful arabesques. In the photograph of “Broken Wire,” the shadows are clearly visible beneath the houses. The effect is charming rather then threatening.
The real subject here is the art-making process. Most pieces are labelled ‘1 of 2,’ implying they are part of an edition, which, indeed, they are. Ms Friedman stacks two pieces of Tyvek together then cuts out her design with an exacto knife, creating two versions simultaneously. An ingenious system! One assumes both versions are identical or similar enough to warrant being called an ‘edition.’ I can speak to her system with authority thanks to an email exchange I had with her in which she described her method.
The flop of the show is its centerpiece, the oversize “Eutopia.” “Eutopia” is a sprawling contraption that covers one wall and flows onto the gallery floor, as shown in the accompanying photograph. Its subject is inscrutable and its organic-looking mass of shapes is uninviting and lacking the intimate charm of the other pieces.
It baffles me why some galleries insist on burdening its exhibitions with flap-doodle-astic monstrosities called ‘The Statement.’ As a marketing exercise, I wonder who it’s designed to reach.
There is much to like here. Most pieces are interesting and reward study. The sour notes are from an overabundance of energy and zeal (and love of process).[Note: Photos are mine but works are copyright Friedman et al.]