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Ballston Center Gallery, on the campus of Marymount University, in Arlington, has an interesting two-person show. Adapt/Adorn features the work of Amy Boone-McCreesh and Bonnie Crawford, two Baltimore artists whose circles have intersected before, but who have not previously worked together on an exhibition until now.
Boone-McCreesh uses a variety of media within her work, which then gets scanned and printed on fabric. The pieces are then overlaid, cut and fringed, and mixed with other media—like cheap, plastic flower garlands, and mylar. The end result is a complex arrangement of pattern and texture that exploits tackiness and transforms it into a design of confounding interest, if not outright beauty.
The playful arrangement of shapes is also confronting the rectangular norms of art-on-walls: the concept of the composition as a window into another space. Some of her wall pieces are organic blobs stuck to, and separating from, the wall. Pieces that do use a rectangular frame, like “Window,” are adorned with the fabric, have an edge of the frame reconstructed to disrupt its rectilinearity, and don’t frame anything in particular: just more organic shapes of collaged fabric, stuck to the wall, which disobey the confines of the frame.
Boone-McCreesh’s work pairs well with the work of Bonnie Crawford, both as compliment and contrast.
Crawford presents a series of insomnia drawings: work she makes at 2 or 3 a.m., when she is unable to sleep. All of the pieces are 5″ x 7”, watercolor and ink on paper, in matching frames, hung in small grids. The placement of the grids aren’t particularly orderly: in groups of two, four, and eight, some hang higher on the wall, others lower. It’s a self-conscious playfulness that suggests Crawford’s work can be as playful as Boone-McCreesh’s, and on closer examination, each individual piece is. As organic abstractions, Crawford overlaps washy stains with vibrant brush strokes. Each piece shows the record of its making. Trained painters will recognize which brushes were used to make the work, and take joy from the fastidious mark-making of repetitive stroke lengths, daubs, and dashes within each work. It’s enough variety to keep the eye trained on an individual insomnia drawing, and not feel either bored or overwhelmed.
The concept of the Crawford’s insomnia drawings, scaled up into the site-specific installation, (lying next to a hammer in bed), is where there is added playfulness. Once enlarged and transferred to digital print, Crawford’s work begins to look like Boone-McCreesh’s, unifying the exhibition as one playful display of mark-making and form.
Through March 8 at Ballston Center Gallery at Marymount University, 1000 N. Glebe Road, 2nd Floor, Arlington. Thurs.-Sat. 1 p.m.-6 p.m, and by appointment. Free.