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Brad Overton
The Marshall Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Brad Overton, "Vagabondage," 2014, oil on canvas, 36 x 48"

Continuing through February 21, 2015

Considering Brad Overton’s deceptively traditional choice for a series of still lifes, he renders the subject subversive by virtue of the quirky variations of personality the paintings exude. After all, they are just empty cardboard boxes, without markings but showing signs of wear — ripped packing tape, frayed flaps, puckered corners. In additional to the careful selection and inclusion of these expressively charged details, there is the masterly technique with which this Utah-based artist achieves them. The aesthetic building blocks are all there: form, color, composition, texture, dimension, light and shadow. An eye-pleasing work like “Somniloquy” positions a smaller box with its flaps open in front of a larger box in a way that suggests maternal protectiveness — and why not anthropomorphize boxes? As in the other works, they are against a dark background, softly lit, with their reflections visible on the shiny surface upon which they rest.

The cleverly composed “Estrella Obscura” presents nested boxes with their opening facing the viewer; the “dark star” idea can be seen deep inside the boxes where the interlaced flaps suggest a starburst pattern. “Vagabondage,” with attention drawn to the corrugation and general wear of the boxes, summons up a strange empathy for their journey as utilitarian carriers of books, dishes and bric-a-brac. Overton says in an artist’s statement that whether his choice of subjects is funny, mysterious, symbolic or sublime, “the common thread is that they are meant to serve the viewer.” The eyes have it.

Marshall Gallery

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