“NADA and Friends” Exhibition Opens at Abattoir Gallery Next Week

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click to enlarge “NADA and Friends” Exhibition Opens at Abattoir Gallery Next Week
Shawn Powell

With its new exhibition, "NADA and Friends," opening next Thursday, Feb. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m., Abattoir Gallery continues to offer thought-provoking work by established artists while also promoting the development of mid-career ones as well.

This exhibition offers an eclectic group of five artists drawing influence from modernism, postmodernism, pop, second-wave surrealism, and American still life. These artists reduce and abstract the reality of everyday objects and confront their history.

This exhibition is a “reprise of their NADA Miami exhibition,” according to Abattoir’s press release. Featured artists Shawn Powell, (Kent, OH) and Caitlin MacBride, (Catskill, NY) will be joined by Thomas Spoerndle (Akron, OH, resides New York), Peter Demos (Kansas City, resides New York), and John Pearson (Oberlin, OH).

“This show is an expansion of the show Shawn Powell and I did for NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) in December in Miami with Abattoir Gallery,” said MacBride. “I’ve known Shawn for years in NYC before he moved to Ohio so it was great to get to show with him. I’m excited to also be showing with Peter and Thomas in this new Cleveland iteration!”

Caitlin MacBride investigates objects whilst using color, composition and texture to elevate them above their mundanity, showcasing their beautiful simplicity, along with highlighting their cultural and spiritual significance. With MacBride’s work there is a modernistic tilt with a breath of surrealism steeped in historical and pious fascination.

“These paintings are from a series I’ve been doing based on furniture, tools, and clothing that was made and used by the Shaker Community,” said MacBride. “The Shakers were a Christian sect that originated in the 18th century and believed in equality, celibacy, and giving spiritual praise through object making. I’m very interested in how belief systems can impact object making and how the shakers influenced modernism in the U.S.”

Shawn Powell also does not take objects for granted, always seeming to implant them into surprising backdrops, giving the images an otherworldly and sometimes cinematic quality with his color choices. In Warholian fashion, Powell spotlights commonplace objects such as sandpaper, deli sausage links or batteries in some works while in others he juxtaposes things like a Ziploc bag and Cheez-its or Crocs footwear and a slice of Swiss cheese, injecting a subtle humor shared between the artists and the viewer.

Powell’s work in this exhibition includes a new beach towel painting from his “Flotsam and Jetsam” series of found beach objects, along with a new series on 30-inch circular tondo stretchers that he created in 2021 depicting reductive beach umbrellas or round life preservers that frame various painted objects on a bed of brown sand.

“The use of a shaped canvas provides each work with an enhanced ‘objectness,’ taking on the size and shape of the subject (a round life preserver/umbrella on the circular canvas, or an elongated beach towel on wide rectangle),” said Powell. “This play between the flatness of a painted image and the literal shape and three-dimensionality of the subject matter is indicative of my work, adopting the corresponding dimensions and scale of the subject.”

John Pearson’s work can offer a magical visual waltz where lines, shapes and color intersect on wavy stretchers, emoting delightfulness while instigating an unoppressive conversation between artist and viewer about how the balance between shape and color can elicit an emotional resonance.

Peter Demos is an abstract painter of the school of Rothko and works in subtle statements of tranquility with his understated movements of color and shape. Whether his work is displayed as a diptych or presented in a series, the pieces seem to communicate with one another and no matter the piece, the viewer’s eye continuously moves throughout connecting parallels and finding patterns.

Spoerndle reduces and abstracts geometric shapes and configurations, setting the stage for an optical dance with the viewer as he utilizes primary colors and organizes them into shapes and patterns which stimulate the brain like interacting with a jigsaw puzzle, telepathically moving the pieces around and rearranging them in one’s mind, deconstructing the perceived configurations until a sort of harmonic beat erupts.

“The more time I spent with staggered shapes in these works I kept coming back to the word syncopation, a word used to describe the use of off-beat rhythms to create a driving sense of movement in music,” said Spoerndle. “Imbuing my compositions with a visceral sense of movement has always been an important part of my work. What attracts me to reductive abstraction is the possibility to create a dynamic visual experience that inhabits the liminal space in which the language we use to define our perception of the world is formed. Occupying this in-between space, this approach to abstraction enables the work to define the term of its own making and become the primary site of our experience."
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