Four Artists
Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 224-0521
Through Dec 23

Four artists contribute to the current exhibit at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. Philosophy of Desire is a display of Drake Deknatel's large, German Expressionistic canvases. Robert Hanson's Mythology is a collection of graphite and charcoal figurative drawings. Pilgrims by Forrest Williams is a display of figurative oil paintings. My Natural History is a selection of mixed-media works by Kristan Kennedy.

After sifting through this range of work, one theme in particular surfaces as most significant and compelling. The power of the personal rises up and entreats the viewer to make a connection with the artist. This happens most frequently with the work of Kristan Kennedy and Forrest Williams.

Kennedy's work begins with a thoughtful treatment of the surface, characterized by layers of various mediums and careful mark-making. Formally, the results are an engaging mix of the intimacy of Kennedy's hand and a palette of sweet pastels.

As objects, the panels offer a sort of preciousness, which accentuates the narratives that Kennedy ultimately implies. In Things to catch and keep, Kennedy refers to the childhood ritual of dandelion wishes. She depicts a pair of dandelions with pores dispersing into the air in a cloud of paint, wax, and medium. Metaphorically, Kennedy unearths youthful days gone by; time once filled with daydreams and wishes.

Forrest Williams' work in Pilgrims is also steeped in the personal, though he approaches the theme with a darker, perhaps more cynical tone than Kennedy. His paintings place life-size, urban figures in non-descript places. In one piece (each painting is entitled Pilgrim), Williams depicts two males standing close to a wall. One gazes confrontationally at the viewer, while the other is shown in profile. The subjects are rendered realistically, though Williams' palette and mark making make the figures seem to sag dramatically.

A sense of sadness and isolation is funneled through the eyes of Williams' figures. Immediately they beg empathy from the viewer, and to the artist's credit, they receive it.