Overflow at Laconia Gallery

Three Boston Artists Celebrate Sensuality

By: - Oct 13, 2008

animals and insects in love large triptych panel free-standing form mushroom fauna Meiosis II

Overflow: A visual feast of sensuality and beauty
Resa Blatman, Sara Hairston-Medice, Mary O'Malley
Laconia Gallery
433 Harrison Ave., Boston
Oct. 3—Nov. 22, 2008

The over-the-top title is a perfect fit for this show that revels in sensual excess. Blatman, Hairston-Medice and O'Malley, each in their own media, are unabashedly concerned with beauty. They're in favor of it; and of biology, and flora and fauna that reproduce themselves, and in biomorphic shapes that look like flora and fauna copulating.

It's right there in the title of Blatman's "Coitus," a luxuriant painting that is almost a Dutch still-life of fronds and tendrils, until you notice that the birds, beetles, dragonflies and other insects dotting the leaves are all coupled. It's a painting full of many beasts with two backs, no less beautiful for its subtly naughty message. The pink flowers of the central bush are matched by deeper reds and dark purples in a plethora of imaginative flowers that could be found in a spring glade or found under a coral reef.

"Ravishing the Night" packs a similar surprise, as similar floral shapes in pink and gold glow in a dark cavern of black. The ravishers, it seems, are the fruit bats gorging themselves on dripping red berries hanging from the imagined cave walls like Spanish moss. Blatman mixes flat graphic design elements (her stylized plants in silhouettes of various shades could be from antiquarian fabric or wallpaper patterns) with realistically rendered animals, tying them all together not so much visually as thematically. In her fantasy set pieces, the carefully observed animals are decorative props as well.

Sara Hairston-Medice's sculptures share a preference for the curved organicism of reticulated membranes, but her crocheted pieces use yarn to simulate more fanciful forms of life. Colors and textures abound in profusion, so that one piece might be hairy, wooly, smooth, stringy and supple in different sections, tied into a whole that seems to have grown on the spot. "Hydra" features tangles of crocheted ruffles, an evolving surface texture like some sort of alien mushroom or high altitude lichen. Her free-flowing patterns swirl into bundles of coiled energy, so that motion and life is easy to imbue to her headless, limbless (but not orifice-less) creations.

Mary O'Malley is the most restrained of the three artists, limiting herself to a palette of a few colors in ink on paper. But the meticulous detail of her intricate drawings is as obsessively busy as the other two, and she too makes creatures that might be mutant plants or mobile sea anemones. "Pink Temple" envisions shapes like the onion domes of Eastern churches, in a delicate greenish gold on some alien planet where the skies are pink.