Wetlands 

Art Review

Froelick Gallery
817 SW 2nd Ave., 222-1142
through March 31

Long marshes, lonely people less crossroads, silent wetlands: This is the world that painter Barry Pelzner has committed himself to recreating in his art, and it's a world nearby. Sauvie Island and other wild areas just outside our urban environment have served as subjects for Pelzer's recent work. Remarkably meticulous, Pelzner's paintings of are also a throwback to an earlier style of representation: landscapes, a genre that can achieve transcendent beauty or look as bad as motel art.

In "Wetlands," a continuation of a theme the artist has visited before, Pelzner offers up small landscapes, in oil crayon on museum board, of locations around the Portland area. These 20 paintings, most of which go for $1,000 or more and most of which were already sold by First Thursday, are striking, and show a marvelous consistency.

Pelzer's sense of composition is fine (and in one set of paintings he views the same intersection from two different angles, and somehow you know it). He's got a great sense of color (though perhaps one can thank nature for that). But in the end it is Pelzer's line that is superb. Basically, he knows how to draw, and draw very well, with a great command of that mysterious region between the world and his hand.

These are small paintings, but resist the impulse to stand close to them. This work benefits from a little bit of distance, whereupon they give off the hyperrealism of a photograph. Otherwise, the artist's handy work is too apparent. Pelzer commented on the small canvas he has favored of late. The artist noted that viewers have a tendency to always stand close to small paintings; therefore, small paintings have the dual task of needing to look good both up close and from a distance. These paintings do; however, though up close they look clever, from a distance they are luminous. Also on hand for the rest of the month is a set of new drawings, mostly sketches for sculptures, by Dave Darraugh.

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