U.G.L.Y. Gallery provides a fresh perspective on art downtown
The recently established U.G.L.Y. Gallery is a breath of fresh artistic air in New Bedford, with its emphasis on art using the vocabulary of youthful street culture, skateboarders, graffiti art, and other energetic ethnic and diversified cultural sensibilities. And the gallery is doing it right by presenting these artworks with a professional gallery attitude and intention.
Currently, U.G.L.Y. Gallery is offering an exhibit titled "La Energia: A Delicate Explosion" that features the work of four women from the above-named genres to show the female side of these typically male bastions. But the voices and expressions of women are certainly as valid, if not essential, to make these fully rounded and inclusive expressive activities with their own artistic means, techniques, and subjects.
Two in particular are featured with several examples of their work. Catalina Viejo Lopez de Roda is of Spanish origin, though she was raised in the Canary Islands and then came to the states to receive her education and BFA from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly. She now resides and works in the Boston area in a broad variety of mediums, sizes, and techniques, including painting, collage, drawing, and multi-media combinations.
Four impressive works are nearly life-sized multi-media figures on paper. In her portraits of family and friends, Lopez de Roda combines a familiar Latino palette of bright colors and delicate rendering, with accents of gold, accessorized with "jewelry" of miniature portraits, halos, emanating rays of high coloration, and collaged with fabrics, ribbons, and cut bits of paper. In the first, called "Amber," the depicted figure wears a collage skirt that recalls design elements of the Swiss Symbolist Gustav Klimt. "Mama" is redolent with color in her dress of rainbow colors, but with delineated and carefully shaded hands and face of drawn charcoal.
"Katie" wears a dress of sewn green and white string over her barely visible nude body, and "Barbara" virtually glows, emanating rays of coloration that appears collaged but is in fact hand-applied paint. A selection of six collaged "letters" use her cut-paper bits to replace words with bytes of color. This group is surrounded with her miniature portraits (with one landscape). In addition, a selection of acrylic on panel paintings of family members and friends that are more traditional in presentation, but with that distinctively bold Latino palette.
Native Cape Cod resident Beck Lane has been making art for three decades, and exhibiting prolifically across that area. Now a resident of New Bedford, Lane's recent work explosively combines the energy of street art and graffiti with more traditional approaches to portraiture and figuration. In her more tradition mode, Lane displays an economical use of paint-handling that is descriptively alluring and engaging. More expressive and open are her more abstract examples that pulse with vibrating linear and poured paint energy. A quartet of square panels of drywall are portraits of dolls and child faces that are charming in their commentary on racial and cultural differences and similarities.
Fabric artist Kate Frazer is represented with 10 examples of her brightly colored sewn and stuffed "figures" and objects that are playful, organic, sometimes a bit disturbing, and whimsical. And Genevieve Steel is showing a single object called "Barbie Satyr Amphora," a mixed media vase that is composed of found objects infused with silver, wax, porcelain, and plastic. It is intriguing, but as a singular example of her work, difficult to determine her larger sensibilities and intentions. I look forward to more exhibits at this new addition to New Bedford's artistic community.