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“H2O”
The McLoughlin Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng


Sarah Ratchye, "astrOnauts Land awn PlAn Kolekt Rawx Plant Flag," 2010, oil on canvas, 72 x 48"

Continuing through April 30, 2016

Environmental issues occurring in contemporary art are becoming more common as the effects of global warming become clearer every day. “H2O" is a three-woman show on the theme of water. While everyone in California is water-conscious these days, Liz Hickok, Bonnie Levinson and Sarah Ratcheye explore the theme without polemics — almost philosophically. The results are beautiful to behold, but never merely that.

Hickok develops crystals, which she photographs with a macro lens, creating turbulent, enigmatic poetic worlds — microcosms or macrocosms — populated by organic shapes that creep across the surfaces in branchlets. Some of them (“Mediation,” “Overspill”) suggest floral forms; others (“Biosphere,” “Interstice”), appear astronomical. On view as well are some of her San Francisco landscapes (“Coit Tower,” “The Mission: Dolores and 16th") rendered in colored jello, a humorous take on our daily seismic lottery.

Levinson makes lyrical dye sublimations on metal of a shadowed, rippling lake surface. Seen singly (“Alaska Pole Series”) or in arrays of four or ten conjoined square-format photos, the works preserve the fluid beauty of the ever-changing. Ratcheye makes opulent oil paintings of collaged imagery featuring astronauts and cosmonauts, along with lunar landers, rocks, jewels, flowers, drapery and angels (“Sputnik 2”). Areas of gold leaf on circular tondos, as in “Mankind 6,” imply that space cowboys are our new gods. This also seems to be the point of a pair of satirically bejeweled paintings, “Footprint," of an astronaut and his footprint in the lunar dust.


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