Gambit Magazine

Review: Temples of Glass

New work by Marlene Rose and mixed media artists at Angela King Gallery

D. Eric Bookhardt Oct 5, 2015 - 2:27 pm

Time flies. Days can slip by, almost surreptitiously, until decades have passed. Angela King noticed that recently when she realized that her gallery is 30 years old. She has been its director for decades, starting when it was called Hanson Gallery and featured work that was to contemporary art what "easy listening" is to FM radio. After buying the gallery from its California-based owner 10 years ago, King included art that, while still accessible, has more psychological or spiritual depth. The current Marlene Rose expo of cast glass sculptures is decorous while resonating the timeless aura associated with African masks, Buddha heads, totems and ancient artifacts. Local art buffs will note some parallels with the cast glass concoctions of local maestro Mitchell Gaudet, whose surreal works often feature martyred saints whose suffering on behalf of others reflects traditional Roman Catholic notions of empathy. Both studied glass sculpture at Tulane University, but Rose's serene Buddha heads, such as Purple Lotus (pictured), evoke a meditative sort of empathy meant to transcend suffering itself. Royal Street's competitive distractions can be daunting, but King's humanistic focus makes her offerings personable.

Belgian artist Eddy Stevens' dreamlike portraits, painted in a magic realist style reminiscent of Jan van Eyck, Lucian Freud and our late local barfly genius Noel Rockmore, evoke characters from fantastical fiction while looking oddly at home in the French Quarter. Local artist Aaron Reichert's manically dynamic and sinewy gestural paintings of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein also hark to Rockmore — especially the eerie depth and otherworldly funk that characterized his jazz portraits. But Woodrow Nash's large "African Nouveau" clay sculptures are unlike anything else. With hints of Nubian statuary and traditional West African wood figures, some are rendered in ceramics so vividly hued that they seem almost psychedelic. Despite their prismatic charisma, his figures seem pensive, even reflective, like timeless witnesses to their own history who have been left in stunned silence by what they have seen.