artUS, Issue #31, 2011
Katy Crowe/Recent Paintings Los Angeles Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery | Wilmington, CA Katy Crowe’s “Rebidishu Two” (though November 13, 2010) was exhibited at Los Angeles Harbor College Gallery, whose modest presence in the college’s fine arts building belies the significance of artist Ron Linden’s curatorial program, which over the last ten years has featured such established artists as Ted Twine, Coy Howard, Merwin Belin and Dave Smith. In the case of Crowe, her long professional career is marked by a strong emphasis on process, resulting in intricate, studied abstractions. Each drawing or painting responds to prior work, just as each brushstroke is the logical answer to the one before. Crowe lets the painting carry her wherever it needs to go, but she always holds the reins, ensuring that no movement will be lost or hidden. Her light, transparent brushstrokes enable the viewer to make out every step of the process, even though it’s a bit like working your way backwards through a labyrinth. Employing muted or pastel colors, Crowe’s new paintings propel us into kinetic worlds where abstract patterns just as easily lose their way as rise gently to the surface. Obscure, mosaic structures give way to objective wonderment, while still standing by and out in their sophistication. What also defines the work the artist does is her undeniable charm or bonhomie. She clearly enjoys the view from her platform far above these abstract landscapes, over which she seems to preside with almost welcoming pride. Even so, there’s nothing casual about them. It is fitting that her titles, like “Castor and Pollux”, “Circe” or “Calypso” (all 2010), come mostly from the “Odyssey”, which in time has come to stand for every epic adventure. One is tempted, of course, to conjure Homeric figures from her geometrical shapes. But Crowe’s work is not representational, and even “Rebidishu Two” is a complete invention, so becomes itself a manifesto or declaration of principles. It’s no accident that Ron Linden’s concurrent paintings show at Gallery 478 in San Pedro, titled “TRANSREASON/ BEYONSENSE”, appears formally related to Crowe’s “Rebidishu Two”, neither artist simply traces random brushstrokes or allows the immediate to take control of their canvas. Reminiscent of Theodor Adorno’s notion of the “false immediacy of enjoyment”, the unconscious gesture is granted respite from the processes of secondary revision that otherwise cannot but dominate a seasoned practice of abstraction.