Friday, February 22, 2008

Bravo Liz Brady!

Fluid inventions - Liz Brady's new exhibition,
"Water,' considers what it is to be wet


February 22, 2008 11:22 AM

'Liz Brady's "Water'

When: through March 6
Where: Studio 3 East, 3 E. De la Guerra, upstairs
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday
Information: 568-1216

Liz Brady's "Swimmer Series"

Water holds a natural fascination for painters, being a substance at once real and elusive. In a way, water is an ideal point of focus for artists of certain impressionistic schools, not to mention those seeking to find new pathways between representation and abstraction.

Rick Stich is one Santa Barbara-based painter who has produced intriguing paintings on the subject, going back many years. Liz Brady is another.

Brady's new show, "Water," at Studio 3 East, confirms an earlier strong impression left by her show last year at Arts Fund Gallery. There, she was the recipient of the Individual Artist's Award. In the new show, it's enticing to see her paintings spread out in this uniquely open-feeling space, aloft over the din of State Street. The gallery feels like an idyllic perch, centrally located while also blissfully detached, in its way.

As with Stich's body of water work, Brady's paintings deal with water on multiple levels. Yes, there is the very stuff of water itself, challenging the artist to capture its look and behavior. But not far behind is the spirit of water, the nature of fluidity, and the further contextual complications when foreign bodies are introduced into the picture.

While the entire set of paintings functions as a composite whole, Brady breaks the group down into three separate series, denoted by the qualifiers "Water," "Swimmer," and "Objects." The paintings, and their subdivisions, work singly and as part of the larger, modular concept.

Tucked neatly in a niche in the gallery, "Water Series No. 3" is a diptych. Swirling arabesques in hues of watery green and blue achieve certain poise, by virtue of the sense of dialogue between the two paintings. Another set of three more disjointed paintings, by contrast, works up its stream through the mixture of continuity and tension.

We relate differently to the work, depending on its subject. The "Swimmer" series invites empathy (especially to the swimmers among us) in terms of the cryptic configurations of watery visual energies and teasing fragments of swimmer's limbs.

More mysterious relationships are at work in the "object" series. Stones, curiously adrift underwater, undulate alongside buoyant bubbles, which also suggest half-concrete objects rather than something gaseous.

Beyond the appeal of the art on its own terms, the series also serves as a fine example of the power of variation-on-theme in terms of series-based work. Once again, we return to an example of water and its fluidity -- always the same, never the same -- which circles back around to the conceptual overview of what Brady is so invitingly up to here.

Reprinted from the February 22nd edition of the Santa Barbara News Press

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