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It’s the planet of the bulbs: Victoria Palermo’s Starship.

Rubber Soul
By Pam Barrett-Fender

Victoria Palermo: Flo-mation
Williams College Museum of Art, through Sept. 26

Imagine a world with luminous, globular towers in shiny candy hues (towers with names like Blue Haze, Starship and Barcelona Dream). The sky and the horizon bleed together into a sheet of kaleidoscopic patterns of aqua, salmon, hot pink and tangerine. Imagine the spires standing in glassy, cloud-shaped pools that mimic their radial foundations, reflecting their slick billowy forms and the psychedelic flourish of their environment. In this world, everything is organic in form, brilliant in color, and fantastical in essence. Dreamlike as it is, this world exists in real space. In a tiny room at Williams College Museum of Art, Victoria Palermo has created a sphere of fantasy and wonderment she calls Flo-mation.

The title of the installation is a reference to the suspended state of flux that her work inhabits. The towers seem to be melting into their mirrored bases, or growing from them. They ooze, or they gel. They drip, or they rise. The direction of their transformation is unclear, but their state of becoming is as lucent as their smooth bright surfaces. Palermo achieves this fluidity through the glistening drips and puddles that result from pouring molten rubber over hollow armatures, a technique she began to develop about four years ago, in response to a studio accident.

Before the leaky mold (which lead to a viscous puddle on her studio floor), Palermo had been casting rubber, creating solid bio-morphic structures that bridged nature with a modern, manufactured sensibility. She was drawn to the seductive forms created by the rubber as it poured out, and began to incorporate them into her work, finding new ways to explore the ever-blurring line between the natural and the artificial. In this vein, the pieces in Flo-mation are built in accord with the inherent properties of the material, but are sometimes arranged to defy gravity, trickling upward or reaching outward from their vertical stems.

The tower structures are not representational in any specific way, leaving room for viewers to connect with the organic/artificial dichotomy in their own ways. In both their colors and their forms, they contain all at once references to jewels, flowers, candy, toys, music, counter-culture, architecture, art history and the internal human body.

The colors largely flow together in seamless gradations; from cerulean blue to teal, from lemon yellow to mango, cotton candy to raspberry to garnet, deep purple to burgundy to chocolate. In some places, the stream is interrupted by clear demarcations or color; like slender yellow tubes with pink bulbous caps, or a sky-blue umbrella shape dripping profusely around a mango-colored column. This gives the sculptures a more grounded sense of structure, a punctuation of sorts for the more fluid passages.

The pieces range in size from one foot to ceiling height, but seem to lend themselves readily to imaginary scale in relation to the viewer. You can approach the room as a giant to a candy counter, with every imaginable flavor to choose from. Or you can step into a dreamy, futuristic city full of whimsical skyscrapers, and take a little elevator all the way to the top of a pink onion dome. Bring your imagination.

This installation reflects a sensibility informed by a whole host of images and concepts, but maintains its own distinct identity, which is centered in its surreal organic quality, and sense of magic. The enchantment of Flo-mation not only seeps from the sculptural forms, but exists in the spaces between them, reflects from the mirrored bases and wraps the room in it with its vivid wall covering.


The Recent Art of Robert Moylan
Albany Center Galleries through Aug.21

In The Recent Art of Robert Moylan at Albany Center Galleries, this soft-spoken, Cohoes-born painter of landscapes sings beautifully in vivid color and seductive light. Painting after painting demonstrates his passion and dedication to the building blocks of artistic expression; the chronicle of nearby locations is just a side result.

Moylan revels in glowing skies, snowed-under cornfields, summer haze-soaked ski mountains and purple shadows. His technique of layering opaque water-based gouache creates a surprising amount of depth and complexity, while looking different from a variety of distances. Far away, the broad areas of rich blue, green or orange beckon; up close, a delicate interweaving of brushstrokes captivates.

Itís pretty decorative stuff, but in my book thatís no crime so long as itís got soul; Moylanís blue-collar Irish heart shines right through these gorgeous, meticulously crafted paintings.

óDavid Brickman

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