04.27.07 Plain Dealer
Plain Dealer reviews "come closer"


Gallery owner returns with show that focuses on taking Closer' look

Friday, April 27, 2007
Dan Tranberg
Special to The Plain Dealer

It was a blow to the morale of the local art scene when Elizabeth Davis closed the E. Gordon Gallery in December 2006. Although the gallery was open for only two years, it quickly filled a niche in Cleveland, regularly presenting works by a new generation of regional artists in an appealing, professional setting.

Now, Davis is back, as director of the new Wooltex Gallery at 1900 Superior Ave., Cleveland, in the smartly renovated Tower Press Building.

The gallery's first exhibition, "Come Closer," opened last weekend and will remain on view through Friday, June 1. Featuring works by more than 20 artists, the show plays off the idea that small works beckon viewers.

It's an interesting strategy, especially because the space itself is cavernous; one whole wall is filled with gigantic windows facing Superior Avenue.

All of the works in the show (most of which are paintings) are 12-by-12 inches or smaller. Many succeed at drawing in viewers; others fail to deliver, appearing like cropped portions of larger works.

A work on paper by Paul Sydorenko, for instance, has a commanding presence even from a distance. Up close, its details gradually come into focus, like a thickening plot.

By contrast, a painting by Artemis Herber doesn't present enough information for viewers to know what the artist is trying to accomplish. Its few warm-toned shapes aren't decisive enough to function in the traditions of Minimalism, nor are they suggestive enough to trigger thoughts of a bigger picture.

From another angle, the show as a whole functions well as an introduction to a wide range of artists and to the reality that buying original art isn't necessarily expensive. Most of the pieces on view are priced under $300.

For Davis, the exhibition is an exciting beginning and a return to her role in the local art scene. Many, but not all, of the artists she will feature are those she represented at E. Gordon.

Upcoming shows at Wooltex include a juried group show opening Friday, June 8; a solo show by Krisztina Lazar opening Friday, July 20; and a two-person show featuring Amathin and Misha Kligman opening Friday, Sept. 7.

With an eye to ensuring the success of Wooltex as a business, the gallery will serve as a rental space for special events, offering in-house catering and other amenities.

The downside is that Davis will not have an inventory of art, as she did at E. Gordon; the works in each show will be available only during the run of the exhibition.

Still, Davis is taking a do-what-you-have-to-do attitude, knowing that, most important of all, she's back in the business of showcasing Northeast Ohio artists.

Go to www.thewooltexgallery.com.

Tranberg is an artist and writer living in Cleveland. Art Matters is a column that runs weekly in Friday covering the area art scene. To be considered for publication, items about shows or openings must be received three weeks in advance. Mail to Plain Dealer Art Critic, 1801 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114, or fax to 216-999-6269.

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