“Do more yoga.” “Save more money.” “Call mom more often.” These guidelines may sound all too familiar around this time of year, for New Year’s Resolutions can be a beautiful thing. Whether you believe in starting the New Year with a direction in mind, or that resolutions are silly, January 1st still marks a fresh start and new possibilities. Within this context especially, Microscope Gallery’s “Detours,” where artist Anita Thacher’s exhibits her first show dedicated exclusively to painting, resonates beautifully and gives us a new perspective on what it means to follow a path.
It may sound surprising that tucked away in a little gallery behind Little Skips Coffee Shop houses Thacher’s first painting focused show. Thacher is no stranger to painting, but she is known for working with a wide variety of mediums. Through her use of sculptural installations, paint, film, light, multimedia and video to name a few, Thacher has famously explored spacial relationships and perception, both in the physical world and within her own personal experiences for decades. Take her 10-minute 1975 film “Homage to Magritte” for example. We see the artist humming happily in a home of sorts, arranging flowers and looking out a window. Behind her, a mirror reflects her actions as it would normally, until her silhouette begins to stay put when she isn’t there, or fade away when she is, disrupting our “normal” expectations of space and objects, and speaks to the ways in which our memories of events fade, become over exaggerated, or change completely.
“Detours” takes a simple yet abstract approach to these ideas, while still incorporating the complexity of “direction,” again both physically and personally. The show is comprised of two series of works. The first, “Crossings,” is a number of 12 by 12 inch panels with seemingly similar geometric patterns on them, as if one was viewing a very simple road map of directions that may or may not go anywhere. The paintings are each labeled with a time of day. “Crossings at Noon (#3)” for example, is a solid gray square with neon yellow lines cutting through it, bending to create tight angles, or traveling forever off the canvas. “Crossings at Midnight (#4)” however, shows a different set of light pink lines, bathed in a transparent rosy hue. Each image differs by different textures, hues, and direction of line. The other series, “Red Studio,” involves three 19 inch square paintings, one bright yellow, one bright blue, and one bright aqua. In addition to similar linear qualities as “Crossings,” these paintings also have translucent and opaque shapes that create mysterious floating optical illusions.
In her own words, Thacher told Microscope Gallery “I draw with a variety of mediums – light, string, tape, paper shreds, film and paint as well as pencil… . At the core of my process is a desire for discovery and surprise … building something while being completely open … and allowing mistakes and blind alleys to lead me on.”
Lines are attractive. They can lead you, trick you, guide you, stop you and form anything. But what’s remarkable about Thacher’s show in addition to this attractive symmetry, use of translucency and optical illusion, and play on color and light, is the paintings’ ability to remind us that as we work on our resolutions, as we strive for perfection and to reach goals and be everything for everyone at once, it’s lovely to be lost. It’s delightful to stray from your plan for a moment, and to continue to discover, to make mistakes, and to be surprised. After seeing this show, my new year’s resolution is to find more “blind alleys.”
DETOURS, Paintings by Anita Thacher at Microscope Gallery open through February 24, 2014. Hours: Mon-Thu, 1-6PM.