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New York Times Review
ART IN REVIEW - September 20, 2002Missy Stevens: 'A Year of Change' & Prue Venables: 'Objects'
By Ken Johnson
Nancy Margolis Gallery
560 Broadway, at Prince Street
Through Oct. 5
Using needle, thread and beads, Missy Stevens makes tiny, tightly knit tapestries of riveting optical and material richness. With jewellike colors, satiny and nubby textures, intricately patterned borders and glass-bead fringes, her works look as if they were made by an inspired medieval artisan. Her images may seem whimsically simple-minded, but as in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, formal ingenuity and heartfelt moods ranging from ecstasy to grief give the work a complex depth that belies the seemingly naïve surface.
In "Sanctuary," a semitransparent female figure overlays a pastoral landscape. Dogs and birds race around the beige border, fringed by translucent red beads. The cosmic symbolism verges on dopey, but the way Ms. Stevens uses thread like a painter to create shades of blue and green, gradations of light and the see-through great goddess will keep you with your nose close to the glass for some time.
Show Installation at Nancy Margolis Gallery
Ms. Stevens is not above more mundane subjects. "Sampler" represents the recent break-up of her marriage, emotional confusion registered by distressed masks (Ensor comes to mind) tumbling across a luscious, rusty-orange field. A funny-sad diptych memorializes her cat, which looks smugly innocent in a formal portrait opposite the image of a dead chipmunk under a drooping daisy, a victim, presumably, of feline sport.
Also on view are ceramic works by Prue Venables. Bowls, bottles, colanders and other domestic implements in muted, two-tone glazes have a classical serenity that nicely complements Ms. Stevens's busy quirkiness.
© Published: September 20, 2002 - Art in Review
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