On view now at Figureworks Gallery: “Without/Color,” Part 1

"Without/Color," Part 1 at Figureworks Gallery ©All images courtesy of Figureworks

There is a gem of a gallery tucked away on the second floor of a quiet, four-story brownstone on 168 North 6th Street in Williamsburg, just off busy Bedford Avenue: Figureworks. And, inside this gallery right now, there is an exhibition of watercolors, drawings, and sculptures that is entirely “void of color.” The effect is transporting in such a way that the gallery seems like a separate world entirely, removed from the cityscape outside and, thus, a perfect respite for those in pursuit of silence and inspiration. Greenpointers recently caught up with gallery Director Randall Harris to discuss this exhibition, “Without/Color” (Part 1).

Alexander Ney, "Untitled Raven," white terra-cotta, 17” x 22” x 7”

Although Randall Harris was at the exhibition’s opening on Friday, we missed each other in the crowded rooms of the gallery. In the first room, I mostly kept to the walls, where Joanne Scott‘s delicate pencil drawings of female forms hung in trim white frames. A group stood next to one of Alexander Ney‘s terra-cotta ravens in this room, discussing braille as a dying art form (“Fewer than 10% of legally blind Americans read Braille today”), so I headed into the second room to get a closer look at Meridith McNeal‘s series of watercolors, “Liberty Clouded.” McNeal had wanted her work to address “the anguish of false accusation and the gross failure of the American judicial system,” and so had her Statues of Liberty weathering heavy fogs and rains. Nearby, another of Ney’s ravens stood at the ready, unobstructed and riddled with intricate, patterned holes.

Joanne Scott, "Untitled Sleeper," graphite on paper, 22” x 18”

“When all of the people are here for a reception, it’s a very different feel than now when it’s completely empty,” Harris explains via telephone when I call him a few days after the opening. “I hadn’t ever done a show that was completely black and white basically, so that was a real shock when I put up it up. It’s really serene and in a quality that I’ve never experienced before in here, actually. I think you get transfixed by the whole thing. I didn’t expect that either.”

So, Greenpointers had to ask: Why did you pick these three artists for this exhibition?

RH: Joanne does life drawings, and her drawings were perfect because they were all these sleeping figures and quiet forms. And Meridith has done “Liberty Clouded,” so I thought the two of them were very quiet for the exhibition; they just worked. For Alexander Ney, these two white, tranquil, terra-cotta birds in each room rounded the show, and acted kind of like guardians for the show. I thought they just beautiful.

Meridith McNeal, "Liberty Clouded," pencil and watercolor on paper, 22” x 30”

 GPers: What stands out for you about the work of Alexander, Joanne, or Meridith?

They’re all detail- and attention-oriented artists. Alexander’s works are beautiful forms to begin with, and then when you get into it and see the hand-punched designs…It’s so detailed and just another bonus to the work. Joanne, with her drawings…they’re simple, but there’s so much detail in the drawings. And Meredith, although the work seems broad, there’s also so much attention to the detail, where half of the Statue of Liberty is gone, but you see it completely. I like the fact that they’re all pretty powerful images. They might be void of color, but they’re full of thought and emotion. They’re so beautiful together.†

Randall Harris has been Director at Figureworks for fifteen years, and has lived in Williamsburg for twenty. He and his coworkers have a “longstanding dinner arrangement at Mizu every Sunday night.” Part 1 of ‘Without/Color’ will be on view at the gallery until February 8, 2015. The gallery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 6pm, and by appointment.

About Ona A

Ona Abelis is a poet & journalist in Brooklyn.

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