“Conflux Vignettes”

Pub date July 22, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionVisual Art

REVIEW Being unpatriotic, I spent the Fourth of July observing indoor fireworks at the opening of the group show, "Conflux Vignettes," at Mama Buzz Café’s Buzz Gallery. I was lured in by poet-painter Brian Lucas, whose 2006 book, Light House (Meeting Eyes Bindery), is out of print but obtainable secondhand. Like his longer poems, which accumulate as aphoristic remarks, Lucas’ abstractions accrue in obsessively worked increments. Whereas in his earlier work these parts formed discrete centers of interest, his more recent paintings, like the acrylic Correspondence, reveal a more unified sense of composition, their lush brightness influenced by his six-year stay in Thailand, from 2001 to 2007. Lucas’ paintings have the complexity of the finest abstraction, with an illusion of depth hitherto unrealized, and suggest equally the cosmos and the lotus.

Also here are odd assemblages by Daniel Glendening, black mat-board cutouts overlaid with rainbow-colored gouache and acrylic. The edges are shaped alternatively as pistols, cacti, and AK-47s. The most ambitious, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, includes all three — its overall shape suggestive of the southwestern United States and a good metaphor for a country refusing gun control. Paper squares repeating the title are affixed by copper nails driven through the piece and into the wall. (If you buy the work, Glendening offers to come nail it to your wall at home.)

Rounding things out are large paper-on-canvas pieces by Julie Oppermann, executed in watercolor and acrylic, yet defying most viewers’ conceptions of watercolor. The concentric circles, overlaying each other yet slightly askew, create the moiré effect, hovering like a Duchamp rotorelief without the literal motion. Tree-Cells, a smaller series in mostly red shades of oil, resembles something like exploded alligators — in a good way. All in all, a well-curated grouping, indicating why the space has its buzz.

CONFLUX VIGNETTES: BRIAN LUCAS, DANIEL GLENDENING, AND JULIE OPPERMANN Through July 31. Mon.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–9 p.m.; Fri., 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Mama Buzz/Buzz Gallery, 2318 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 465-4073, www.mamabuzzcafe.com