Monday, February 21, 2011

Sarah Williams Returns to McMurtrey Gallery

Sarah Williams, La Plata ATM, oil on board, 2011

I first saw Sarah Williams paintings last year at her first McMurtrey Gallery show, and I wrote about them. I emphasized their spookiness. In some ways, this show is even spookier than the previous show. There are no daytime scenes this time. Instead, we have images of depopulated, late-night midwestern buildings. The effect of the show is not really so much spooky--that was probably the wrong way to describe it. Instead, it feels lonesome, but not in a bad way. There is a kind of peace driving around late at night after everything is closed. The familiar becomes strange, and that's kind of wonderful.

Sarah Williams, MoDOT, oil on board, 2010

Sarah Williams, Green City, oil on board, 2010

Sarah Williams, Centralia, oil on board, 2010

Of course one reason they look so strange at night is how they are lit. I'm fairly sure that all of these images are are of locations in Missouri, and they make one wonder if Missouri especially likes green lights. The green lights are quite otherworldly. But even when the lights are more ordinary colors, there is a strangeness.

Sarah Williams, Jericho, oil on board, 2010

Sarah Williams, Centralia Carwash, oil on board, 2010

But in addition to these paintings, which are very similar to what she showed last year, she has a series of small paintings--one foot square--where she does something different. They are all about showing stars in the sky--sometimes in a  naturalistic way, as in this gorgeous crepuscular painting:

Sarah Williams, Lexington House, oil on board, 2010
But most of the stars are depicted in ways that call attention to them. For example, as constellations.

Sarah Williams, St. Joseph Water Treatment, oil on board, 2011

 Or as time-lapse images.

Sarah Williams, Constellations 4, oil on board, 2011

I found the constellations and time-lapse effects to be distracting. For me, the main thing are the lonely nighttime scenes. But I was clearly in a minority. When I went to the show on opening night, all but one of the 12" x 12" "star" paintings had sold.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I need to get over there and see these paintings. I like the stillness and light in these landscapes. They remind me a bit of LIllian Warren's work. The 'regular-ness' of the places depicted get you.