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ART REVIEW: ‘X’ marks the spot at Bernay Fine Art

The exhibit highlights how women are an important factor in today’s art scene. Stylistically diverse, pieces freely bounce from representational to non-representational art.

Great Barrington — A deal too good to pass up: a new gallery in Great Barrington with easy front-door parking and the best art in the 413. Located next to Aegean Breeze on Stockbridge Road, Bernay Fine Art hosts its second show of the season, “The ‘X’ Factor: Works by XIV Women Artists.” “X” refers to the X chromosome, and the exhibit highlights how women are an important factor in today’s art scene.

While several of these artists have exhibited in the Berkshires before, many are newcomers. Paintings, three-dimensional objects and prints share the space, and nearly all work is small to moderately sized. Stylistically diverse, pieces freely bounce from representational to non-representational art.

Nadine Robbins is a phenomenal figure artist, and “#Metoo,” with hands fidgeting in trepidation, offers a glimpse of her talent. The show also includes two of her still-lifes. Set against an acidic green background, “Envious Oyster” is absolutely succulent. The visual textures are stunning: a shimmering oyster, red cocktail sauce, a lemon slice and fragments of ice. A Dutch still-life painter would be green with envy.

Katia Santibañez, ‘An Ideal Place,’ 17” x 14”

Like Sirens, Katia Santibañez’s painstaking abstractions lure wandering visitors. Her linear patterns subtly express natural form and intellectual design. The web-like “Endless Spaces” instantly snares interest, and of special note is the delicate artist book “Harvesting Memories.” Evocative of swirling autumnal leaves, “An Ideal Place” is a standout.

Joan Griswold’s painterly interiors glow with warmth and convey comfort. She sustains a soothing balance between suggestion and depiction. Linda Pochesci has the eye of a photographer and skill of a painter, capturing missed moments in our daily routine. When isolated on canvas, a window, doorway or chair command our appreciation for their solitude and beauty. Jessica Hess depicts urban scenes of wall graffiti. Realistic depictions of flat, pigment-covered surfaces present an intriguing postmodern allegory on the Art of Painting.

Barbara Takenaga, ‘Reprise,’ 12” x 10”

Barbara Takenaga’s acrylic paintings and lithographs are mesmerizing. Visually, they can suggest either expansive galaxies or boxes of marbles. As pure abstractions, they create pulsating patterns, the imagery of which is both geometric and organic. Her lithograph “Lines of Force” particularly fascinates with its seemingly translucent layers—remarkable. Takenaga’s most commanding piece is arguably “Reprise”—simply spellbinding.

Janet Rickus, ‘Honeybells,’ 13” x 15”

With masterful skill, Janet Rickus produces world-class still-lifes. Her straightforward formula has a modernist economy: life-sized objects pushed to the picture plane; vibrant, natural coloration; flat, neutral-grey background; and a rightward light source. While paintings like “Honeybells” are iconographically traditional, they are conceptually modern. In other words, they are postmodern. Frequently, she imbues her objects with personalities and narrative relationships.

Carrie Crane’s whimsical pieces are surrealist dialogues between precision and variability. Of special interest is her hanging “Rural NE,” an abstracted topographical map of the Berkshires on three layers of Lexan. Marjory Reid offers controlled splashes and soft patterns of color, sewn together by compositional accents. These small paintings are big on expressiveness and sensitivity.

Sandy Litchfield’s landscapes dissolve into fluid distortions of their subjects, maintaining just enough integrity to be identified. Likewise with a comic flavor, are Sandy Winters’ depictions of organic machines and processes. Maggie Mailer presents both abstract and representational pieces—particularly charming is her small canvas titled “Looking for Leprechauns.”

Sandra Byers produces precious objects of porcelains, encapsulating the language and beauty of nature. Shells, stone and plant life inform the imagery of her artwork. Soft chiaroscuro nuances wash over the delicate white surfaces as light plays with the forms. Mixed-media artist Sally Curcio creates small, topographical landscapes placed under domes. These jewel-like, bird’s-eye views of miniature locations are quite distinctive and memorable.

It is well worth a jaunt to see this handsome new gallery, and “The ‘X’ Factor” makes the next few weeks an ideal time for a visit. The opening reception is Saturday, May 4, from 4 to 7 p.m. The show runs until Saturday, June 22. Contact the gallery for business hours: Bernay Fine Art, 325 Stockbridge Road, Suite #1, Great Barrington, MA  01230; (413) 645-3421.


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