April 29, 2004
By David Brickman
John Greene: Sculpture
Helen Suter: Works on Paper
A.D.D. Gallery, through May 16
Spring has sprung, and the valley will soon fill with weekenders and summer people. It’s a good time to beat the crowd and take a drive to Hudson, where a number of art venues await, from the rootsy ’60s-flavored Time & Space Limited to the slickly successful Carrie Haddad Gallery. Perhaps unjustly overlooked among them is little A.D.D. Gallery, surely the region’s only private art space devoted to the minimalist, industrial aesthetic.
Though the name may bring kids on Ritalin to mind, it actually stands for Art Design Digression Ltd.; it is the personal project, since 1998, of interior designer-artist-curator Jeff Snider, a New York City native, weekender since 1980 and full-time resident of Hudson since 1994. Snider is committed to a certain kind of art at a very high level of quality, and the current show of combines by Helen Suter and painted sculptures by John Greene provides an excellent window into that quirky world.
The space itself is always part of the show—formerly a restaurant, it has been stripped of all but the most essential elements and recast as a purely functional display space, small but uncluttered, brightly lit but not glaring, hard-surfaced but somehow warm. The movable wall suspended from steel I-beams, bare light fixtures mounted to conduit and angle iron and expertly poured concrete floor are all calculated to create an atmosphere ideal for showing and enjoying the art—and, like the machinery of industry that inspired the style, it works.
Greene has rather few pieces in this exhibition, but they are nicely showcased. There are several small, square, deep paintings on canvas that emphasize his strict focus on pure paint and reduced color, as well as three elegant wall-hung sculptures consisting of geometric found objects that have been altered. An additional painted wooden sculpture sits on a tabletop; it is gestural but tightly geometric, spare, painted red—like a delicate three-dimensional Malevich.
Greene’s other sculptures (all untitled) have wit and warmth—characteristics that Suter’s work positively effuses. Her pieces, all wall-hung and mostly framed, are lyrical combinations of found objects and simple materials, carefully organized and presented in a lightly ponderous manner. If that sounds self-contradictory, so is the work—in a very successful way.
Augmented by particularly thoughtful and evocative titles—Landscape (think), Canned Future and Don’t Tailgate (flash) are a few good examples—Suter’s witty, understated pieces invite interpretation and reaction. They are not merely reductive like a lot of minimalist art seems to be. A Swiss native now living in Germantown, Suter has carried with her a European tradition of concerned cynicism that is in fact very pleasantly engaging (think, for instance, of her countrymen Jean Arp and Paul Klee).
A number of the framed works on paper are presented as apparent series in varying sizes; they build one upon the other to create a mood. Additionally, there are several pieces hung directly on the walls, often consisting of separate elements that activate the white space between and around them. Two favorites of mine are hung together—both Blitz-pillow (talk) and Music to my Ears make the humblest of materials speak most eloquently. Simply put, Suter is a marvel.